IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Iowa has welcomed the nation's top-ranked
team into Kinnick Stadium before. But the hype surrounding those
games was never this big.
The undivided attention of a national TV audience -- and possibly
the best chance the Hawkeyes have ever had to knock off No. 1 -- has
created an unusual frenzy in Iowa.
Top-ranked Ohio State (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) visits the No. 13
Hawkeyes (4-0, 1-0) Saturday night in one of the most anticipated
events in the 78-year history of Kinnick Stadium. The game has been
sold out since well before the season started, and tickets on eBay
were going for as much as $500 a pop as of Wednesday morning.
"It's a huge game for us, this state, for everything involved
with this program," senior quarterback Drew Tate said. "It's a
huge game for them. They're No. 1 and they're trying to stay No.
The buzz in Iowa over a potential matchup against the nation's
top-ranked team has been brewing for months. The Buckeyes'
impressive win over Notre Dame in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, along with
the return of QB Troy Smith and flanker Ted Ginn Jr., helped cement
Ohio State's position as the preseason No. 1.
The Buckeyes haven't disappointed so far, posting wins over
Texas and Penn State and holding opponents to an average of eight
points a game.
The Hawkeyes also have kept up their end. Iowa is off to a 4-0
start, just its second under eighth-year coach Kirk Ferentz. After
a string of lackluster Septembers, the Hawkeyes are positioned for
a run at a BCS berth, and maybe more, if they can upset the
"How many times do you get to play in a game like this?"
Ferentz said. "Players only get one chance to play in a game like
this, just like coaches do."
History has not been kind to Iowa in games against top-ranked
teams. The Hawkeyes are 0-7-1 all-time in such matchups, including
0-3 at Kinnick. But no Iowa team that has hosted a No. 1 went on to
post winning records or reach a bowl -- both near-certainties for
this year's squad.
Three weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Hawkeyes lost
to top-ranked Minnesota, 34-13, en route to a 3-5 season. In 1964,
Iowa fell to the Buckeyes 21-19 in what was the third loss of a
Miami came to Kinnick early in the 1992 season for the first
true night game in the stadium's history. Coming off a 10-1-1
season, the Hawkeyes lost 24-7 and wound up 5-7, their worst record
in 12 years.
Ferentz has had one crack at No. 1, at Nebraska in 2000. But the
team he brought to Lincoln had lost 11 straight, and the
Cornhuskers made it 12 in a 42-13 blowout win.
In 1985, Iowa was No. 1 for the Ohio State game -- and it didn't
matter. Two weeks after the Hawkeyes beat No. 2 Michigan 12-10 in
what many consider the biggest game ever at Kinnick, the Buckeyes
ruined Iowa's perfect season with a rain-soaked 22-13 win.
There hasn't been a more highly anticipated Buckeyes-Hawkeyes
matchup since. But even the 1985 game, which current Ohio State
coach Jim Tressel watched from the sidelines as a Buckeyes
assistant, didn't come close to matching this week's hoopla.
"There wasn't quite the hype that there is today. I think (two
reporters) were at practice and that was because we invited them,"
No such luck this time. This matchup will attract plenty of
attention, especially considering that only one other game
Saturday, No. 11 Virginia Tech against No. 24 Georgia Tech, will
feature two Top 25 teams.
"You can't beat the feeling you have coming out of Kinnick on a
Saturday night. It's just going to be fantastic," Ferentz said.
"But it's still our job to do a good job during the football game.
That's where our focus is."
Top 25 Overview
Iowa is 0-9-1 when facing the No. 1 team in the country, and the last three games have been routs -- including a home loss to No. 1 Miami in 1992 (24-7) in the only true night game in the history of Kinnick Stadium.