Iowas weekly Houdini acts bearing resemblance to 2002 Buckeye champs

The 2002 National Champion Ohio State Buckeyes are often remembered for finding a way to win through adversity. Sound familiar?The No. 4 Iowa Hawkeyes have found themselves in the same situation this year as the Buckeyes were in 2002.Iowa has been the underdog in many of their games this season, even as a Top 25 nationally-ranked team.Penn State was a 10-point favorite over Iowa on Sept. 26, Michigan was an eight-point favorite on Oct. 6, and Michigan State was favored by one point on Oct. 24.Iowa beat Penn State by 11 and Michigan and Michigan State each by two.The 2002 Buckeyes had the same problem with the odds makers, going unfavored in games against ranked teams No. 7 Washington State, No. 10 Penn State, No. 11 Michigan and No. 1 Miami.Both teams have been considered underdogs because of their inability to blow out bad teams with bad records.Iowa has four fourth quarter come-from-behind victories, two of which they were heavily favored in against Northern Iowa and Indiana. The other two came against Penn State, ranked No. 5 nationally at the time, and Michigan State.Iowa seems to be reading the blueprint of the 2002 Ohio State team that had five fourth quarter comeback victories. OSU had to go into overtime to beat both Illinois (4-7) and No. 1 University of Miami in 2002.Both teams had to rely on their defenses for fourth quarter victories.OSU had six regular-season games decided by seven points or less in 2002 while Iowa has racked up four of their own this year. In 2002, the Buckeyes had two important games decided by their defense, against No. 10 Penn State and No. 1 University of Miami in the National Championship game.OSU was forced to silence an explosive Penn State offense, which averaged 36.4 points per game, to preserve its 13-7 win.In the National Championship game, OSU held the Hurricanes out of the end zone from its one-yard line four times to win the championship. Iowa has already proven that its defense can perform similar feats. In the first game of the season, the Hawkeye defense blocked two Northern Iowa kicks in the final seven seconds of the fourth quarter that would have won the game. They also clinched the Michigan game with an interception with a minute-and-a-half remaining in the fourth quarter to seal Iowa’s victory. The overall defensive statistics for both the 2002 OSU team and the 2009 Hawkeyes are impressive. Iowa has averaged 13.5 points per game with 18 sacks, 18 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries through nine games.In 2002, OSU allowed 13.1 points per game with 32 sacks, 18 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries in 14 games. The offensive play-calling for the teams does differ. The Hawkeyes focus on the pass, while the Buckeyes were oriented on the run. Mostly on the legs of Maurice Clarett, the Buckeyes ran over every opponent, with 2,678 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns on the ground. The Hawkeyes have relied on the arm of quarterback Ricky Stanzi, who has passed for 2,052 yards. That is only 58 yards short of OSU’s starting quarterback, Craig Krenzel, in 2002. Stanzi has also thrown 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, surpassing Krenzel by two touchdowns but also throwing six more picks.The Iowa rushing game only racked up 1,127 yards and accounted for 11 touchdowns, much less than OSU did in both categories. The Buckeye offense was more potent, scoring 45 offensive touchdowns in 2002. The Hawkeyes are on track to score only 33 offensive touchdowns this season.Adversity within the roster is something both teams have been acclimated to as well. The 2002 Buckeyes were without explosive freshman running back Maurice Clarett at 100 percent for 3 games after he injured his shoulder against Penn State with four regular season games remaining. The Hawkeyes are without freshman starting running back Adam Robinson for the rest of the season, who injured his ankle in their win against Michigan State.Both of the teams have had similar results to this point in the season, but Iowa has three games remaining in the season, including one against OSU in Columbus on Nov. 14. The other two remaining games are at home against Northwestern and Minnesota.Iowa’s championship destiny does not lie in its hands as it did for OSU in 2002. No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Texas and No. 3 Alabama are all ahead of the Hawkeyes by considerable margins in the BCS. Two of these three teams will have to lose for Iowa to make the National Championship game and match the dream season OSU achieved in 2002.

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