That is the number of wins the Iowa football program (8-4, 5-3 Big Ten) finished their surprising 2013 season with after a convincing 38-17 road victory over Big Ten Legends foe Nebraska (8-4, 5-3) on Nov. 29.
Coming into this season many thought (including myself) that the Hawkeyes were doomed for a five or six win season at best. On paper, Iowa didn’t resemble a team that would finish in the upper-echelon of the Big Ten.
Iowa and its steadfast coach Kirk Ferentz stayed resilient all season, and it didn’t matter that at times their offense couldn’t produce points or that their defense couldn’t stop anybody, because when it mattered most they found a way to win.
Against the Cornhuskers, playing in Lincoln, the Hawkeyes had fewer first downs — Iowa had 14, while the Nebraska finished the afternoon with 20 — and fewer total yards.
The Hawkeyes however, didn’t commit a turnover and are 6-0 this season win they win the turnover battle — Nebraska’s three turnovers ultimately cost them the game.
This year Ferentz faced arguably the toughest test of his tenure as Iowa’s head coach — even though he wouldn’t admit it — because of the question marks his team had heading into the season.
For instance, who would step up at the quarterback position.
Jake Rudock was fairly unknown and had trouble finding a rhythm throughout the first few games. As the season wore on, he gradually matured and showed the potential he has as a Big Ten quarterback.
Rudock suffered an undisclosed injury during the Nebraska game but should be ready to play in Iowa’s final game of the season. The Weston, Fla. native finished the season with 18 touchdowns and 5 rushing scores while completing 60% of his passes.
Eight wins was more than any die-hard Iowa fan could’ve imagined for this team. It’s difficult to rebound from a 4-win season, especially in the Big Ten with such a young team.
Coming into this season Iowa’s future was in question — to a certain extent, so was Ferentz’s — but after a hard-fought campaign and a respectable Big Ten record the Hawkeyes are prepared to show their doubters that they can still be great.
After a year of uncertainty, the Hawkeyes and Ferentz are now back in a familiar spot. Awaiting until Saturday, Dec. 8th when the bowl games are announced to put the exclamation point on another exceptional season.
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