Heat and Heartbreak for Iowa Hawkeyes
The University of Iowa staff at Kinnick Stadium might possibly have been more prepared for Saturday’s game than the Coach Kirk Ferentz Iowa Hawkeyes squad. Iowa expected temperatures to be in the upper nineties for the home opener with an expected heat index exceeding 100 degrees. The staff positioned designated cooling areas throughout the stadium. The areas were equipped with misting fans and cold towels to combat the heat. Fans were also allowed to bring extra water into the stadium provided that it was in a sealed bottle, Iowa was designated the top party school this year so officials were obligated to ensure that fans where hydrating themselves with proper beverages. Also, the always astronomical prices at concessions stands were lowered to two dollars for a bottle of water. All of this diligence to combat the heat did little to stop a hot Northern Illinois team that entered the season red hot after BCS appearance last year.
This matchup marked the ninth time the two teams would meet on the gridiron with the Hawkeyes having won the previous eight meetings. The Hawkeyes were well aware of what they would be up against as the Huskies have been a formidable team for some time now and were coming off of an amazing season last year. The Hawkeyes may have known more about their opponent than they did themselves. Throughout the game we saw what has been accustomed to a Feretnz coached team. The Hawkeyes ran their typical pro style offense with a large offensive line and a pounding running game.
Hawkeye fans saw another thing they have seen time and time again, a team that cannot seem to create separation on the scoreboard and maintain it. This was a typical close game till the very end. The Hawkeyes had inconsistent play throughout the game with the offense dropping passes and special teams slip-ups. The Hawkeyes are not an explosive big-play team so they need to establish some consistency and do the little things right throughout the game.
The Hawkeyes had a chance to win the game at the end needing only a field goal to walk away with a season opening Win. With time winding down in the fourth quarter the Hawkeyes came up with a big stop that would give the offense the ball with good field position, time to wind down the clock, and kick a field goal. Quarterback Jake Rudock dropped back found an open man but it ended up in the hands of the Huskies defender. The Hawkeyes fans, coaches and players were deflated as Northern Illinois kicked a field goal with four seconds left to win the game. Bright notes for the Hawkeyes were the fact that they battled all game, Rudock played well for the most part, and the running game was effective.