IOWA CITY, Iowa - Saturday will mark the sixth time that an Iowa football team has played in a game matching two Top Five teams in the Associated Press poll.
Three of those previous five meetings took place at Kinnick Stadium. The most recent was No. 1 Iowa’s 12-10 victory over No. 2 Michigan on Oct. 19, 1985.
The Hawkeyes have played in 21 Top 10 duels overall, according to the AP poll. Iowa has a 10-11 record in those games, but it is 1-7 since that 1985 victory over Bo Schembechler’s Wolverines.
On a more positive note, the Hawkeyes have won five straight games against rated teams, and 11 consecutive games overall. Only Alabama has a longer winning streak against rated foes, with nine straight.
Saturday will mark the first time since 1962 that there will be a Top Five contest between Big Ten teams that didn’t include Ohio State and Michigan. This is also the third time in the past four seasons that Iowa and Penn State are both rated.
While the Iowa-Michigan game of 1985 is probably the most talked-about victory since Hayden Fry became the Hawkeye coach in 1979, nothing can compare to the 1960 season in program history.
It was Forest Evashevski’s final season as Iowa’s head coach. In eight of the nine games that season, both teams were ranked. The only one that wasn’t was in Evashevski’s final game as coach, a 28-0 victory at Notre Dame.
Between October 1 and Nov. 12 that season, the Hawkeyes played four games where Top 10 teams were squared off. That included back-to back games where both teams were in the Top Five: No. 3 Minnesota, 27, No. 1 Iowa 10 on November 5 in Minneapolis and No. 5 Iowa 35, No. 3 Ohio State 12 on November 12 in Iowa City.
Iowa opened the 1960 season ranked 19th, and beat No, 10 Oregon by a 19-10 margin in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes jumped to No. 8 after that victory, and traveled to No. 6 Northwestern on Oct. 1.
The Wildcats had opened the season with a 19-3 victory at Oklahoma. Coach Ara Parseghian’s team was favored to beat Iowa even though starting quarterback Dick Thornton was injured and couldn’t play.
The big-play Hawkeyes crushed Northwestern, 42-0, its widest margin of victory against a Big Ten opponent since Coach Howard Jones and his undefeated 1922 team beat Purdue, 56-0. Four of Iowa’s six touchdowns covered at least 38 yards. Jerry Mauren scored on runs of 45 and 38 yards in the first quarter. Larry Ferguson returned an interception 70 yards and Sammie Harris scored on a 53-yard sprint.
“Dick Thornton’s loss was a severe blow to us,” Parseghian told reporters. “But I don’t think anyone could have made a difference in the final outcome of the game. Iowa was a good football team. We couldn’t start to stop them or contain them.”
Iowa was ranked third a week later when it won at No. 13 Michigan State, 27-15. The Hawkeyes moved to No. 2, and beat No. 12 Wisconsin at home, 28-21.
Iowa moved up again, and was No. 1 when it beat No. 10 Purdue in Iowa City, 21-14. The Hawkeyes had a 21-0 lead in the third quarter, but the Boilermakers’ Bernie Allen rallied his team and took the game to the wire. Iowa remained No. 1 and stayed home to take care of No. 19 Kansas, 21-7.
That set up the biggest game in program history at the time, from a ranking standpoint. Minnesota hosted the top-ranked Hawkeyes and gave them their only loss of the season, 27-10. Iowa took a 10-3 lead in the third quarter, but Minnesota stormed back with three unanswered touchdowns.
The Gophers moved to No. 1 the next week. Minnesota would go on to lose two of its last three games, but finished No. 1 in the AP poll. That final poll came out before the second of those two losses, by a 17-7 margin to Washington in the Rose Bowl.
Iowa dropped to No. 5, and had to try and rebound against No. 3 Ohio State in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes stormed to a 28-6 halftime lead and handed Woody Hayes his worst defeat as Ohio State’s coach, 35-12. Iowa’s first touchdown came on a 48-yard run by Joe Williams in the first quarter. The last came on a 91-yard run by Larry Ferguson in the fourth quarter. Iowa players carried Evashevski off the field on their shoulders. Four of Evy’s final five teams finished 9-1, 7-1-1, 8-1-1 and 8-1. His legacy grew even larger when Jerry Burns, Ray Nagel, Frank Lauterbur and Bob Commings failed to win.
But Fry and Kirk Ferentz have since joined Evashevski in Iowa lore. Fry’s legacy includes that epic tug-of-war with Michigan, a game that Parseghian called as an analyst on ABC-TV.Ferentz, Iowa’s offensive line coach for that 1985 game with Michigan, will be coaching his second game between Top 5 teams. The other was No. 3 Iowa’s 38-17 loss to No. 5 USC in the Orange Bowl after the 2002 season.
Iowa in games between Top 10 teams
No. 9 Iowa 25, No. 8 Purdue 14, Iowa City, Nov. 6.
No. 7 Iowa 6, No. 6 Ohio State 0, Iowa City, Nov. 17.
No. 6 Ohio State 17, No. 5 Iowa 13, Columbus, Nov. 16.
No. 8 Iowa 21, No. 9 Notre Dame 13, South Bend, Nov. 23.
No. 7 Iowa 26, No. 8 Northwestern 20, Iowa City, Oct. 25.
No. 2 Northwestern 14, No. 5 Iowa 10, Iowa City, Oct. 3.
No. 8 Iowa 42, No. 6 Northwestern 0, Evanston, Oct. 1.
No. 1 Iowa 21, No. 10 Purdue 14, Iowa City, Oct. 22.
No. 3 Minnesota 27, No. 1 Iowa 10, Minneapolis, Nov. 5.
No. 5 Iowa 35, No. 3 Ohio State 12, Iowa City, Nov. 12.
No. 5 Ohio State 29, No. 9 Iowa 13, Columbus, Nov. 2.
No. 7 Iowa 20, No. 3 Ohio State 14, Iowa City, Sept. 24.
No. 1 Iowa 12, No. 2 Michigan 10, Iowa City, Oct. 19.
No. 8 Ohio State 22, No. 1 Iowa 13, Columbus, Nov. 2.
No. 4 Michigan 20, No. 8 Iowa 17, Ann Arbor, Oct. 18.
No. 3 Michigan 43, No. 9 Iowa 24, Iowa City, Oct. 5.
No. 5 USC 38, No. 3 Iowa 17, Orange Bowl, Jan. 2 (2003)
No. 8 Ohio State 19, No. 9 Iowa 10, Columbus, Oct. 18.
No. 10 Iowa 24, No. 9 Georgia Tech 14, Orange Bowl, Jan. 5 (2010)
No. 6 Michigan State 16, No. 3 Iowa 13, Indianapolis, Ind., Dec. 5. No. 5 Stanford 45, No. 6 Iowa 16, Rose Bowl, Jan. 1 (2016)