Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, December 14, 2011
BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart spent the season covering Big Ten football, and now it?s time for his team-by-team season recaps. Every day, Dienhart will post a recap for each Big Ten school, in alphabetical order.
Up next: Iowa. The Hawkeyes finished 7-5 overall and are headed to another bowl. Watch our video from the Hawkeyes' victory over Michigan now and read Dienhart?s season recap in this post, then tell us what you think in the comments section. Did you miss the earlier recaps for Illinois and Indiana? Those recaps are over here.
Record: 7-5 overall; 4-4 Big Ten
Bowl: Insight vs. Oklahoma.
Season recap: There was some talk about Iowa perhaps having a shot to win the Legends Division. Led by RB Marcus Coker, QB James Vandenberg and WR Marvin McNutt, the offense was good enough. But the Hawkeyes were hurt by a defense that ranked just eighth in the Big Ten (387.6 ypg) and was just seventh vs. the run (159.5 ypg).
High point: Iowa pulled off the biggest comeback in school annals by rallying from a 17-point deficit with over 12 minutes left vs. Pitt to take a 31-27 win. But the best win was a 24-16 triumph over Michigan. The Hawkeyes? spotty defense limited the Wolverines to 323 yards and forced two turnovers to beat the No. 13 team in the nation and keep Iowa?s division title hopes alive. It was the Hawkeyes? third win in a row over Michigan, an unprecedented feat for Iowa.
Low point: With two wins in a row, the Hawkeyes looked to have some momentum for the stretch drive. That?s when Iowa waded into Minnesota and lost, 22-21, on October 29. That made an early-season 44-41 loss at Iowa State pale, as Iowa wasted a 252-yard rushing effort by Coker. The loss cost the Hawkeyes a chance to move into a four-way tie for first in the Legends.
Offensive MVP: RB Marcus Coker. Yes, QB James Vandenberg and WR Marvin McNutt were good, but Coker is the one who made this offense go. Coker finished second in the Big Ten in rushing with 1,384 yards. He also was a workhorse, pacing the league with 281 carries. Coker is a tough runner who moves the chains and opened space for the passing game.
Defensive MVP: CB Micah Hyde. A future pro, Hyde tied for first in the Big Ten in passes defended. He also was the anchor of a Hawkeye secondary that was the most consistent unit on the defense. Hyde was equally as adept in coverage and he was in defending the run.
Tom Dienhart is a senior writer for BTN.com. Find all of his work at www.btn.com/tomdienhart, follow Dienhart on Twitter at @BTNTomDienhart, send a question to his weekly mailbag here, and click here to subscribe to his RSS feed.