Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz will always remember where he was during the end of the Michigan/Michigan State game.
“We were actually on the bus coming home from Chicago,” Ferentz said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show, referring to his Hawkeyes who had just blown out Northwestern, 40-10. “First of all, it was an excellent football game – two really tough teams that are competing really hard. It’s a good illustration of why you just keep playing. It didn’t look good for Michigan State at that time, but you got to keep playing. You don’t think about circumstances. Go as hard as you can and let the results come out as they may.”
In a sequence that will be replayed countless times, Michigan State’s Jalen Watts-Jackson recovered a muffed punt in midair and rushed 38 yards to the house for the game-winning score as time expired. Michigan State won, 27-23.
“(You) just (feel) a lot of empathy for (Michigan’s punter) because he had played a great game and he’s the last guy in the world that wanted that to happen,” Ferentz said. “ So it’s a gut-wrenching thing for anybody to go through. I’m sure his teammates and everybody at Michigan has done a great job for supporting him, but what a tough thing and what a moment of just joy for everybody involved on the winning side.”
Ferentz knows all about it. His No. 12 Hawkeyes are 7-0 and coming off a 30-point thrashing of then-No. 20 Northwestern. Iowa rushed for 294 yards and five touchdowns and held Northwestern scoreless after halftime.
Ferentz knew his team was good, but did he know it was that good?
“I don’t think any of us saw it coming,” Ferentz said. “First of all, Northwestern has got an excellent football team. They’re really playing well this year and had a couple really quality wins already this year. On the other side, we’ve got a few challenges health-wise, so we were just hoping to come out of there ahead somehow someway. I can’t say enough about the job our guys did. They really just dug down deep and did a great job.”
Iowa should be favored in its final five games of the regular season. The Hawkeyes host Maryland, play at Indiana, host Minnesota and Purdue, and play at Nebraska.
Ferentz, however, doesn’t care about favorites and point spreads.
“People who talk that way don’t have to compete,” he said, laughing. “They’re the ones not playing or coaching in those games. It’s easy to talk about and try to prognosticate, but that’s why football is such a great game. You just never know what’s going to happen. I guess it’s true in other sports as well, but I do know this: In college football, you just never know what’s going to happen. If you’re not ready every week, you may be in for a real rude surprise.”