20 for 20: The Best Plays of the Kirk Ferentz Era, Part Three

By Mike Jones on May 10, 2018 at 12:21 pm

© Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports


NOTE: The final five plays of this series will be ranked, but the others are not ranked. AGAIN, THESE ARE NOT RANKED. They're all great plays.


Part 1
Part 2

2010 Michigan State: Sash to Hyde for Pick Six

A week after The Game That Broke Iowa Football, the Hawkeyes had yet another test with a top 10 opponent in the Michigan State Spartans. Dantonio’s group of outlaws were undefeated, beating a ranked Wisconsin and Michigan on their way to an 8-0 start and a No. 5 ranking in the nation. One of the main storylines heading into this game was the reinstatement of Chris L. Rucker, the talented Michigan State cornerback who had just completed a jail sentence for a probation violation and was eligible to play against the Hawkeyes.  Even without Rucker, this Spartan team was uber-talented, with guys like Kirk Cousins, Greg Jones, Jerel Worthy and Keshawn Martin topping the depth chart.

So it came as a surprise when Iowa pounced on Sparty right out of the gate, taking a 10-0 lead. Then, on the second Michigan State drive of the game, this crazy thing happened:

A few things. First off, YOU LIKE THAT KIRK COUSINS? What an awful throw. Second off, lol WTF was Tyler Sash thinking? He had the entire open field ahead of him and was just as much of a playmaker as Micah Hyde? Why did he decide to make a dangerous pitch backward? It worked out…but still. With that Sash/Hyde INT the rout was on and Iowa would ultimately walk away with a 37-6 victory over the Spartans. It was so bad that Dantonio put Chris L. Rucker in the game and Iowa still continued to score. Sadly, this would be the high water mark for the Hawkeyes in 2010.

For the regular season, anyway.

2002 Minnesota: Bob Sanders Misses Tackle, Forces Fumble Anyway

The 2002 Battle for the Floyd of Rosedale has gone down in history as the “Goalpost Game.” Y’know, that time when Iowa walked into the Metrodome, punched Minnesota right in the face and took their lunch money? The time that Fred Russell and Jermelle Lewis rushed for over 300 combined yards, two touchdowns and were clowning the Golden Gophers so bad that Mark Davis exclaimed: “Jermelle Lewis is working Minnesota like a part-time job!”? The time after the 45-21 win that Iowa fans stormed the field and ripped down the goalposts AT THE METRODOME? Yes, those were good times.

There were a lot of great performances that day but the play by Bob Sanders late in the game was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen. Up 38-21 with 9:33 remaining in the game, Iowa punted the ball to Minnesota’s Antoine Burns, who was immediately descended upon by Bob Sanders. Burns made a quick juke to miss the diving safety and started to make his way up the field. Apparently, the Hitman wasn’t done yet:

Iowa has had a mass of playmaking defensive backs over the years but I’m not sure if there was anyone better at forcing a fumble than Demond Sanders. Iowa walked away with an easy win and well, you know what happened after that.

2017 Iowa State: Wadley Forces Overtime in Ames

As an upperclassman, Akrum Wadley seemed like one giant highlight reel. Be it shaking Jabrill Peppers, running all over Northwestern (multiple times) or making the Blackshirts of Nebraska look foolish, Wadley was electric to watch if the Iowa offense was using him appropriately. His performance against Iowa State was no exception. In retrospect, this was probably one of the best Iowa State teams that Kirk Ferentz had ever faced. They defeated two Top 5 teams (Top 5 Big 12 teams but still), Memphis in the Liberty Bowl and finished the season 8-5. The 2017 Cy-Hawk match-up was one of the most exciting games I had seen in years, with the Hawkeyes and Cyclones trading blows and Iowa State holding onto a 38-31 lead with three minutes remaining. Starting at their own 11-yard line, the Hawkeyes went to work.

Iowa drove to the Iowa State 46-yard line and was racing the clock as they had no timeouts remaining. On 1st and 10, Stanley dropped back and dumped it off across the field to Wadley, who did the rest:

Now, if you look closely, you can pinpoint the exact moment that Joel Lanning’s heart rips in half, seen here:

Wadley LOL Lanning
© Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Wadley scored, tied the game up and forced it into to overtime. The Hawkeyes held ISU to a field goal, scored a touchdown on their possession and walked out of Ames with a 44-41 win, primarily thanks to Wadley forcing OT. He finished the game with over 200+ total yards and two touchdowns.

2016 Michigan: Duncan Pulls a Houghtlin

There were countless storylines heading to Michigan week. Like: How bad was Michigan going to beat Iowa? The Hawkeyes were in the middle of a three-game home losing streak, had just been demolished by Penn State in Happy Valley and the Wolverines were #2 in the nation. Michigan had beaten Wisconsin, Michigan State and absolutely crushed Maryland 59-3 the week prior. The Wolverines were something like 20+ point favorites against the Hawkeyes. But Iowa did have one advantage. It was Kinnick Stadium. At night. In November.

The Hawkeye defense was stingy all game. As was Michigan’s. In the end, Iowa got the ball back with 1:23 on the clock, down two points at the Michigan 36-yard line. Beathard and Wadley went to work, moving the ball down the field to the Michigan 15. And then the stars aligned:

Keith Duncan, a true freshman kicker, did the same exact thing Rob Houghtlin did in 1985: he beat the #2 Michigan Wolverines with a field goal. Jim Harbaugh still hasn’t won at Kinnick Stadium.

2009 Indiana: Tyler MF'ing Sash Pinball Pick Six

If you don’t remember the Indiana game, you should know that the Hoosiers were leading 21-7 at halftime and Rick Stanzi was having the worst game of his career. This was primarily because Kinnick Stadium was a wind tunnel and Stanzi didn’t really have the arm to make strong passes. That’s why he threw FIVE (count 'em) interceptions that day. Midway through the third quarter, the Hawkeyes were down 21-7 when Stanzi threw yet another interception deep in Iowa’s own territory. This gave the Hoosiers the ball at Iowa’s 4-yard line and it looked like if Indiana scored again, it was game over.

Then, by some sort of strange devil magic, this happened:

Ben Chappell had his arm hit by A.J. Edds, the ball deflected off of Christian Ballard’s arm, hit an Indiana offensive lineman, (I believe) hit Lebron Daniel who tapped it in the air and fell into the arms of Tyler Sash, who ran it back for a touchdown. This sparked a furious rally by the Hawkeyes, who outscored the Hoosiers 35-3 in the second half, leading to a 42-24 victory. This was the ultimate Tyler Sash play, and the Hawkeyes wouldn’t have won without him.

As always: Rest in peace, Tyler Motherfucking Sash.

UP NEXT: You probably already know like half of them.

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