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2008 Iowa Hawkeyes football team

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Conference  Big Ten Conference
AP  No. 20
Coaches  No. 20
2008 record  9–4 (5–3 Big Ten)
2008 Iowa Hawkeyes football team
Head coach  Kirk Ferentz (10th year)
Offensive coordinator  Ken O'Keefe (10th year)

The 2008 Iowa Hawkeyes football team represented the University of Iowa and the Iowa Hawkeyes football program in the 2008 NCAA Division I FBS football season. Coached by Kirk Ferentz, the Hawkeyes played their seven home games in Kinnick Stadium.


Previous season

Iowa opened the 2007 season on September 1, 2007, against Northern Illinois in a game played at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. Hawkeye running backs Albert Young and Damian Sims ran for 144 and 110 yards rushing respectively, while Iowa's defense held the Huskies to just 21 yards rushing. The Hawkeyes won, 16–3, and ended the four-game losing streak that comprised the final four games of Iowa's 2006 season. The next week, Iowa defeated Syracuse in the Hawkeyes' home opener, 35–0. Jake Christensen threw for 278 yards and four touchdowns as the Hawkeye defense held the Orange to just five first downs and 103 yards of total offense in Syracuse's worst defeat since a 51–14 loss to Georgia Tech in the 2004 Champs Sports Bowl. Iowa took a quick 28–0 lead with 9:55 left in the second quarter, and the Hawkeye defense sacked Syracuse six times while holding the Orange to 24 rushing yards. Following the first two games – which saw the Iowa defense give up only three points – the Hawkeyes traveled to Ames, Iowa, to play 0–2 Iowa State on September 15. The Cyclones began the season with losses to Kent State and Northern Iowa, but had won six out of the last nine games against the Hawkeyes, including three of the last four played at Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa fell behind by 12 at half-time, and lost, 15–13, starting yet another four-game losing streak. Placekicker Bret Culbertson scored all of Iowa State's points on five field goals, the last coming with one second remaining.

Following a 20-point loss at Penn State on October 6, which was preceded by losses to Wisconsin and Indiana, the Hawkeyes returned to Kinnick Stadium for a game against Illinois, who was coming into the game after home victories over Penn State and Wisconsin. Christensen threw for 182 yards and the game's only touchdown – a 20-yard pass to Brandon Myers in the third quarter which gave the Hawkeyes a 10–6 lead. However, it appeared that Illinois had taken a 12–10 lead on an 83-yard Eddie McGee touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter, but it was called back due to a penalty. The Illini were forced to punt, but got the ball back with 2:28 remaining. McGee threw passes of 28 and 24 yards to Arrelious Benn, putting the Illini at the Iowa 12-yard line. However, Brett Greenwood intercepted a McGee pass at the goal-line, sealing the win and snapping an eight-game Big Ten losing streak for Iowa heading into a road game at Purdue. But Iowa lost to the Boilermakers a week later, 31–6, to put the Hawkeyes' record at 3–5 with only four games remaining. Curtis Painter threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns for Purdue, who had lost to the Hawkeyes, 47–17, only a year earlier. In Iowa's next game against Michigan State, the Hawkeyes entered half-time down by 14 points only to take a 20–17 lead with 10:05 remaining in regulation. The game was destined for overtime when Michigan State's Brett Swenson hit a field goal with four seconds remaining, and the Spartans quickly garnered a seven-point lead following a Jehuu Caulcrick touchdown in the first overtime. Down by a touchdown, Christensen found wide receiver Paul Chaney for a 23-yard touchdown pass and following the extra point, the game headed to double overtime. Iowa had the ball first and scored on a Jevon Pugh one-yard run, giving the Hawkeyes their own seven-point lead. However, the Spartans were unable to score and Iowa won, 34–27. The win was Iowa's first overtime victory in Kinnick Stadium history.

On November 3, Iowa defeated Northwestern, 28–17, after trailing, 14–0, in the first quarter. The Wildcats took a 17–14 on a third-quarter field goal after the Hawkeyes tied the game at 14, but Sims ran for two fourth-quarter touchdowns to seal the Iowa victory. Christensen threw for 299 yards for Iowa, who came back from a 14-point deficit in the second straight game. Later, on November 10, Iowa defeated Minnesota, 21–16, to reclaim the Floyd of Rosedale trophy. With one home game remaining against Western Michigan, Iowa held a three-game winning streak and a 6–5 overall record. But the Hawkeyes lost to the Broncos, 28–19, and gave up 489 yards in the process. Western Michigan took a 19–0 second quarter lead before Iowa scored 13 straight points to make it a six-point game. But the Hawks would get no closer and eventually lost by nine. Soon thereafter, Iowa was not selected for a bowl game, ending a six-year streak in which the Hawkeyes played in a bowl and rumors about the firing of Kirk Ferentz were rampant.

Coaching rumors

Following Michigan's loss to Appalachian State, rumors about the possibility of Ferentz becoming Michigan's head coach began to circulate. LSU coach Les Miles was widely believed to be Michigan's top choice for the job, but any chance of that happening likely ended when LSU extended Miles' contract through 2012. Ferentz's relationship with Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman may have contributed to the rumor, as Coleman was the president at Iowa when Ferentz was hired. However, indications that the rumor was false were revealed when Iowa's sports information director, Phil Haddy, reported that Michigan had not asked for permission to talk with Ferentz. It was a point reiterated by Gary Barta, Iowa's athletic director. Ferentz's contract has a clause requiring him to contact Barta when talking to other schools, which indicates that he was not a candidate to become Michigan's next head coach. On December 16, West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez was hired as Carr's successor at Michigan.

Soon thereafter, Ferentz was once again rumored for a coaching job, this time for the Baltimore Ravens. Ferentz was an assistant head coach at Baltimore for six years, and became a "respected assistant" in his time there. However, when asked about the Baltimore job, Ferentz said, "I've got a great job here, and with that being said, I'm sure Baltimore will get a top-notch coach." Ferentz also cited wanting to see his son James – who is slated to be a freshman at Iowa in 2008 – play every weekend. The Ravens eventually hired Philadelphia Eagles secondary coach John Harbaugh on January 18, 2008.

Recruiting class

The Hawkeyes had 24 verbal commitments for the 2008 recruiting class. One of the players, Nate Guillory, is a junior college recruit. The other 23 players are all high school seniors. James Ferentz, Kirk's son, is among the players committed to play for Iowa in 2008.


The Hawkeyes opened the 2008 season with three home games against Maine, Florida International, and Iowa State, followed by a road game versus Pittsburgh. The game marked the first of four meetings between Pittsburgh and Iowa. The teams will met in Iowa City in 2011 and 2015, and in Pittsburgh in 2016. Pitt closed the 2007 season with an upset victory over second-ranked West Virginia. Had the Mountaineers won, they would have likely played in the national championship game.

Following the conclusion of the non-conference portion of their schedule, the Hawkeyes will begin Big Ten play with a home game against Northwestern, and will open October with road games against Michigan State and Indiana. Iowa was 1–1 against the Spartans and Hoosiers in 2007, winning, 34–27, over MSU while losing, 38–20, to IU. Following the two road games, Iowa will play at home against Wisconsin. Iowa lost, 17–13, to the Badgers in 2007. Following a bye week, the Hawkeyes will play at Illinois, in what will be Iowa's third road game in five weeks. However, Iowa follows this with two home games, against Penn State and Purdue. Iowa lost to both teams in 2007 by 20 points or more. A week following the Hawkeyes' final home game against Purdue, Iowa will play Minnesota in the Gophers' home finale. Minnesota will look to take back the Floyd of Rosedale trophy a year after Iowa won it for the sixth time in seven years. The game will likely also be Minnesota's last at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

Two of Iowa's games – vs. Northwestern and at Michigan State – have been scheduled for 11:00 AM starts. The season finale against Minnesota has been set for a 6:00 p.m. start time.


Kirk Ferentz will be in his tenth season as head coach at Iowa in 2008, and he has a 61–49 record entering the season. Ferentz came to Iowa in 1999, following an assistant coaching job for the Baltimore Ravens and a heading coaching job at Maine. Earlier in his career, Ferentz was an assistant coach under Hayden Fry at Iowa. From 1981–1989, Ferentz was Iowa's offensive line coach. From there, Ferentz took the heading coaching position at Maine, and followed that by taking an assistant position in Baltimore. He was named Iowa's 25th head football coach on December 2, 1998.

Norm Parker, Iowa's defensive coordinator, will also be in his tenth year at Iowa. The same can also be said for Ken O'Keefe, Iowa's offensive coordinator. Under Parker, Iowa's rushing defense has nationally ranked in the top 10 in three seasons. Parker has also coached several linebackers now playing in the NFL, including Chad Greenway, Abdul Hodge, and LeVar Woods. Before coming to Iowa, Parker coached 12 seasons at Michigan State, five at Minnesota, and three at Illinois. Under O'Keefe, Iowa has had the top scoring offense in the Big Ten twice, in 2001 and 2002, and 14 offensive players coached by O'Keefe have been drafted into the NFL. Before coaching at Iowa, O'Keefe was the head coach at Allegheny College, where he won a Division III national title in 1990. He was also head coach at Fordham University for one year before coming to Iowa.


Returning for the Hawkeyes in 2008 are nine starters on offense, and as many as 18 total starters could be back for Iowa. Senior running back Young is gone, along with fellow running back Damian Sims and fullback Tom Busch. The rest of the offense, including the offensive line and wide receiver positions, are intact going into 2008. On the defense, up to seven starters may return, but the Hawkeyes lose linebackers Mike Klinkenborg and Mike Humpal along with defensive ends Kenny Iwebema and Bryan Mattison. Cornerbacks Adam Shada and Charles Godfrey are also done with their playing days at Iowa. Godfrey, who completed 2007 with five interceptions, was regarded as a possible third- to sixth-round draft pick in the 2008 NFL Draft before being picked in the third-round. Another Iowa player, Devan Moylan, is seeking for another year after missing most of 2007 with an injury.

Returnees on offense include Jake Christensen, who succeeded Drew Tate at the quarterback position. Christensen threw for 2,269 yards and 17 touchdowns in his sophomore season, while throwing only six interceptions. Also returning are 11 true freshmen and 20 redshirt freshmen who saw playing time in 2007. With 31 total freshmen receiving playing time, the Hawkeyes ranked third in the country in that category, behind North Carolina and Florida, who played 38 and 33 freshmen respectively.

Postseason Awards

  • Shonn Greene - Winner of the Doak Walker Award, presented to the nation's top running back. Also received consensus first-team All-American honors and was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.
  • Mitch King - Named Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year
  • References

    2008 Iowa Hawkeyes football team Wikipedia

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