Quickly the story morphed into
something from the library of the Brothers Grimm for the Tigers, and the result
was a 30-25 loss to Iowa for Nick Saban in his final gameday
appearance before leaving for the National Football League.
“I feel like the disappointing
thing here is the last 14 seconds, 20 seconds of this game tarnishes what a lot
of good football players – the seniors on this team – have been able to
accomplish in their career here in terms of the number of games that they’ve
won, the number of great bowl games that they’ve been to, the two SEC
Championships that they’ve won, and the National Championship that they’ve won,”
Saban said, “and I can only say I’m very proud of our players, our program, for
what we’ve been able to accomplish.”
Down 24-19 with 5:06 left in the
game, Russell engineered his second touchdown drive of the night. He did so by helming a 12-play, 69-yard
possession that drained 4:20 off of the clock and seemingly sealed Iowa’s (10-2)
Taking control of the ball after
the Hawkeyes were limited to a six-play, 12-yard drive, Russell led LSU (9-3) on
a march starting at the Tigers’ 31 yard line. He would complete seven passes on the
series, doing so to Skyler Green, Joseph Addai, Early Doucet, and Dwayne Bowe.
Alley Broussard kept the drive
alive on a fourth and one to make it first and 10 at the Iowa 32 yard line, and on
the next play Russell escaped having the ball ripped from his hand to complete
an 18-yard strike to a sliding Bowe.
Five plays later, Russell found
Green in the back of the end zone for a three-yard score with 46 seconds left
for the Tigers’ first lead of the day.
But as quickly as the fairy tale’s
author penned LSU as the Capital One Bowl Champions, one final twist was
“I don’t know if you could write a
better script,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Nobody would believe it if you
With 46 seconds remaining in the
game, Tate called for the first of three final possession snaps from the
Iowa 29 yard
line. A completion of 11 yards to
Ed Hinkel was the result, and getting up to the line quickly Tate then fired a
pass to Warren Holloway for a nine-yard gain.
Despite having two timeouts
remaining, the Hawkeyes elected not to use them, and after being called for a
false start that knocked them back to their 46 yard line Tate again rushed his
team to the line for one final play.
Again Tate would hit Holloway, but
this time he was uncovered because of a missed assignment on Ronnie Prude’s
part. Holloway broke an attempted
arm tackle by Travis Daniels, and with no time remaining crossed the goal line
for a 56-yard completion and victory.
“We just called four verticals and
Solomon was supposed to run a skinny post,” Tate said. “They had a safety on him. That was probably the most time I had to
throw all day right there. I was
going to go back to (Scott) Chandler but the
safety playing that side of the field jumped Chandler and then Warren’s guy ran over to the flat. I just threw it up to Warren and I think
caught it he wasn’t going down.”
Prude’s miscue was not the result
of ill-preparation according to Marcus Spears.
“I think we were prepared for it,”
Spears said. “We just made a mental
error. Sometimes you can be
prepared and these things just happen.
They made a great play, they took advantage of it and they scored the
Tate, the Capital One Bowl MVP,
ended up completing 20-of-32 passes for Iowa for 287 yards. His totals included two first quarter
interceptions, but touchdown passes of 57 and 56 yards as well because of Tiger
Marcus Randall started the game at
quarterback for LSU only to be relieved by Matt Flynn late in the first half due
to an injury. Randall would return
for the Tigers’ opening drive of the second half, but following an interception
was lifted permanently for Flynn, who was ultimately replaced with
“We had a lot of extra time to
practice almost like a spring practice for this particular game and Matt Flynn
had really done extremely well in practice and we wanted to give him an
opportunity because he actually practiced better than JaMarcus had,” Saban
In his final appearance, Randall
completed 10-of-15 passes for 89 yards and rushed 9 times for -13 yards
including four sacks. Flynn hit on
1-of-4 attempts for 11 yards, but Russell led all three by completing 12-of-15
passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns.
Broussard led the Tigers in rushing
with 13 carries for 109 yards, including a 74-yard run for a touchdown to edge
LSU closer to the Hawkeyes in the closing moment of the first half.
Marques Simmons led all Iowa rushers with 35
yards on 13 carries, as the Tigers’ defense limited the Hawkeyes to 47 yards on
the ground total. Forty-eight yards
of Iowa’s rushing attack came in the second half as the Hawkeyes were held to
minus one yards rushing on 12 attempts over the course of the first 30
While Bowe paced LSU’s receiving
corps with eight receptions for 122 yards, Hinkel led Iowa with 10 catches for
93 yards. That Holloway caught the
game-winner wais what really added to the Hollywood aspect of the Hawkeye’s win.
Aside from being a senior playing
in his final game, Holloway’s 56-yard streak for a touchdown will go down in the
history books as the only scoring catch of his collegiate career.
“It’s my first touchdown ever, I
couldn’t top it,” Holloway said.
“(It’s) The best day of my life.
As long as the Hawkeyes win I can’t write a better script.”
Two blocked punts by Iowa in the first half
helped a struggling Hawkeyes’ offense overcome their deficiencies. Those deficiencies aided LSU in holding
Iowa to just
77 yards total through the first half.
“When you make mental mistakes in
the game, and both punts that got blocked were really mental errors on things
that we had practiced,” said Saban, “so you talk about focus and concentration
and you talk about being able to go to the game and being able to do what you
need to do to execute what you need to do…Mental errors are a terrible way to
loose, ‘cause that means the other guys didn’t really physically beat you. You really kind of beat
Statistically the Tigers edged
Iowa in most
categories. LSU gained 19 first
downs to the Hawkeyes’ 16, outgained their opponent 346-334 in total yardage,
and held the ball for 34:12 compared to 25:48.
Defensively Daniels, Lionel Turner
and LaRon Landry led the Tigers in tackles with 5.5 each, but right behind them
was Kenneth Hollis with five solo tackles, including two sacks.
Iowa had a change to extend their lead to a
two-score game early in the second half after Randall was intercepted to put the
Hawkeyes at their own 38 yard line.
By virtue of completions of 19, 18,
and 14 yards, Iowa moved all the way down to LSU’s 16 yard
line, and on a keeper that netted seven yards Tate earned a first down at the
Tigers’ two yard line. Three
incomplete passes followed though, and Iowa’s Kyle Schlicher came on to put a 19-yard
field goal through the uprights to push the Hawkeyes’ lead up to
Skyler Green returned the ensuing
kickoff 58 yards, and a 15-yard facemask placed LSU in prime position at the
Iowa 26 yard
line. Flynn came on in relief of
Randall, but after a four-yard run from Joseph Addai and two incomplete passes
the drive came to an end with Flynn coming up one yard short on a fake field
Flynn would helm one final
possession for the Tigers, one that was effectively ended after LSU had driven
from their own 23 yard line to their own 49 in three plays. On the first and 10 that followed, Flynn
scrambled around in the backfield before being dropped for a 14-yard loss to
push the line of scrimmage back to the Tigers’ 35 yard line.
All total LSU quarterbacks were
sacked five times.
Iowa’s first possession of the day
proved fruitful as the Hawkeyes covered 69 yards and made good on two third down
conversions, the second of which provided Iowa with the lead.
Facing a third and eight from his
own 43 yard line, Tate hit Solomon on a slant. With a safety blitz on, no one was
behind Solomon after he slipped away from a Tiger and 57 yards later at the
12:42 mark the Hawkeyes held a 7-0 advantage.
It appeared LSU would be further in
the hole after Chris Jackson had a punt blocked to give Iowa the ball at the
Tigers’ 27 yard line. The Hawkeyes
generously returned possession to LSU on the only play of the drive when Tate
was intercepted by Melvin Oliver.
Oliver deftly returned the pick 27
yards to the Iowa 42, but after a three and out the Tigers
were forced to punt.
Taking over at their own 20 yard
line after a touchback, the Hawkeyes found it difficult to move the ball. For a second consecutive time, they
would have a series end in an interception. This time instead of a defensive
lineman, however, it was Landry pulling down a Tate pass.
Landry dove on a throw that came on
a third and 12, and his interception put the Tigers in prime field position at
the Hawkeyes’ 31 yard line. LSU
would make good on the opportunity to score their first points of the
Jackson ended a six-play, 20-yard drive with a
29-yard boot with 14:51 still left before halftime to cut the deficit to
Thanks to sacks by Hollis and
Claude Wroten, Iowa found themselves having to punt from
their own 15 yard line on the ensuing possession.
LSU would only manage to cut into
the Hawkeyes’ lead instead of taking the lead, ending a seven-play, 15-yard
drive with a 47-yard field goal from Jackson with 9:26 left before the
Without any ability to drive the
ball down the field for the remainder of the second quarter, the Tigers found
themselves backed-up to their own 28 when special teams struck again for
Iowa with a
second blocked punt.
This time the Hawkeyes weren’t so
generous. Following Miguel Merrick’s block, Sean Considine scooped up the loose ball and scored with 52
seconds in the second quarter.
Flynn entered the game on what
appeared was going to be LSU simply running out the final minute prior to
halftime, but Broussard changed all that.
Taking a handoff from Flynn,
Broussard scooted right, weaved through a bit of oncoming traffic, and then took
a straight route to the end zone to finish off a one-play, 74-yard drive, that
lasted all of 26 seconds.
Attempting to pull even with
remained on the field for a two-point conversion. He connected with Bowe in the end zone,
but an offensive pass interference call against the Tigers’ wide receiver
negated the score.
Jackson came on to add a single
point from the 25 yard line, but a motion penalty against Marcus Spears pushed
the ball back five more yards and Jackson would end up hooking his kick to the
left to leave the score at 14-12 in Iowa’s favor.