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Harty: Hawks are as good as advertised

[ 8 ] September 11, 2010 |

The next time Iowa State football coach Paul Rhoads thinks about sending Kirk Ferentz a text message asking for spending money, Rhoads shouldn’t stop there.

He also should ask Ferentz to throw in some of the Iowa players, preferably two or three starters, but even a few reserves might help.

What was billed as The Big Game throughout the week quickly turned into The Big Mismatch on Saturday as ninth-ranked Iowa scored on its first three possessions and then went on to crush Iowa State 35-7 at Kinnick Stadium.

Iowa has won six of the last eight games in the series and also outscored Iowa State 70-10 in the last two games.

So it’s probably safe to say that Ferentz no longer has the Iowa State cloud hovering over him.

And if we’re to believe Rhoads, Ferentz also has a team that is as good as advertised.

In fact, Rhoads said Iowa was the best team he has faced as the Iowa State head coach, which now covers 15 games.

“Top to bottom, there are no weaknesses,” Rhoads said of the Hawkeyes. “They have the ability to run it. They have the ability to throw it. People are not going to score a lot of points against them. They have a heck of a punter.”

Iowa’s depth and experience are two more things that Rhoads raved about.

“I made a comment from the sideline at one point in the game that they kicked off and 11 defensive guys came off the sideline,” Rhoads said. “They don’t play their starters on special teams because they don’t need to because they have great depth.

“So yeah, I think without a doubt, it’s the best team I’ve faced since I’ve been here.”

The more you watched Saturday’s game, the more it felt like a trip back to the mid-1980s when Iowa had its way with the Cyclones on a regular basis.

It got to the point where by the third quarter the only drama was whether Iowa State would end its touchdown drought against Iowa, and whether Iowa State quarterback Austen Arnaud would match the four interceptions that he threw against the Hawkeyes last season.

The Cyclones finally found the end zone after 17 quarters, with receiver Darius Darks scoring on an 8-yard pass from Arnaud with 1 minute, 51 seconds left to play.

Arnaud also avoided throwing four interceptions again, but just barely as he threw three.

Other than that, there wasn’t much that went right for the Cyclones.

“I didn’t see it coming,” Ferentz said of the lopsided score. “I thought it was going to be an even game. I felt that way going to bed last night and waking up this morning.”

His feelings probably started to change when Iowa expanded its lead to 21-0 with 10:02 left in the second quarter.

You got a sense at that point that the game was over because Iowa State showed no sign that it could stop any phase of the Iowa offense.

Running backs Adam Robinson and Jewel Hampton rushed for 156 and 84 yards, respectively, and quarterback Ricky Stanzi complemented them with 204 passing yards.

It was vintage Iowa football under Ferentz where the pass and run feed off each other.

“We made it an emphasis to come out and be a spark for the team as an offense,” Robinson said.

The Iowa defense, on the other hand, made it an emphasis to stop the run after allowing the Cyclones to gain 190 rushing yards last season.

Mission accomplished, considering Iowa State was held to just 78 rushing yards on 25 attempts Saturday.

Reading that stat line had to make Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker feel better as he recovered from his latest setback caused by the effects of diabetes. Parker didn’t attend Saturday’s game, but he still left his stamp on it.

“We were fired up knowing he wasn’t there,” Iowa strong safety Tyler Sash said. “He had put the whole game plan in throughout the week.

“So we knew the game plan. It was all about going out and executing.”

The Iowa players also seem to understand that the level of competition will improve dramatically with next Saturday’s game at Arizona.

They’ll enjoy having bragging in-state rights for another year, but they won’t dwell on it because this Iowa team has much bigger fish to fry.

This was just one step in a journey that has Iowa fans thinking the sky is the limit for this team.

It also was proof that Rhoads needs more than just more money to match Ferentz.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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