12 things to know about the 12-0 Iowa Hawkeyes

Rick Brown

INDIANAPOLIS — Twelve is a magic number in the Hawkeye State, isn’t it?

Iowa’s undefeated football team has won a record 12 games, and plays Michigan State for the program’s 12th Big Ten Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday. Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, who has coached 12 teams to a bowl game, was named Big Ten Coach of the Year for his hand in this portrait of perfection.

The seed to this history-making journey was planted 12 months ago, when the team walked into the weight room in January with a singular purpose: to drive this program back into college football’s fast lane.

This is a season that will be talked about and treasured for generations to come. Twelve games, 12 victories.

“You can’t do any better than that,” Ferentz said.

Here are 12 fast facts about the 12-0 Hawkeyes.

Thrill of victory, agony of defeat

C.J. Beathard is 13-0 as Iowa’s starting quarterback. The only other players at a Power 5 Conference school to start 13-0 are a pair of Heisman Trophy winners: Cam Newton of Auburn and Jameis Winston of Florida State.

The Beathard family did suffer one tough loss last month. C.J.’s dad, Casey, a noted songwriter, was nominated for a CMA Award. His song “Like A Wrecking Ball,” performed and co-written by Eric Church, didn’t win.

“Obviously I wanted him to win,” C.J. said. “But it was cool.”

Time is on their side

Iowa has played 720 minutes of football this season. The Hawkeyes have trailed for just 55 minutes 15 seconds, and never by more than a touchdown. The last time Iowa was behind in a game was in the second quarter at Indiana on Nov. 7.

When Beathard went airborne to compete a 7-yard touchdown run just 17 seconds before halftime, even though he was playing with an injured hip and groin, it gave Iowa the lead. The Hawkeyes haven’t trailed since.

“A Kodak moment,” Ferentz said.

When pigs fly

Floyd of Rosedale, that bronze pig of a traveling trophy that goes to the winner of the Iowa-Minnesota game, now sits inside the public entrance to the Hansen Football Performance Center in Iowa City.

He’s got company. There’s also the Heartland Trophy, which goes to the winner of the Iowa-Wisconsin game. And the Heroes Game Trophy, taken home by the Iowa-Nebraska winner. And the Cy-Hawk Trophy, the prize for the Iowa-Iowa State winner.

This is the first time the Hawkeyes have had possession of all four trophies at the same time. That’s why there’s a fifth trophy in the building — for being Big Ten West Division champions.

Hometown heroes

Henry Krieger Coble is from Mount Pleasant. Located, of course, in Henry County. How fitting.

Krieger Coble, a tight end, is one of eight native Iowans starting for the Hawkeyes. The others are offensive tackles Boone Myers (Webster City) and Cole Croston (Sergeant Bluff), center Austin Blythe (Williamsburg), placekicker Marshall Koehn (Solon), defensive end Nate Meier (Tabor), defensive end Parker Hesse (Waukon) and linebacker Josey Jewell (Decorah).

All eight communities represented in Iowa’s starting lineup have populations of less than 9,000.

Krieger family tree

Henry Krieger Coble and George Kittle are cousins. Henry’s mom, Amy, and George’s mom, Jan, are sisters. Amy played softball at Iowa. Jan played basketball at Drake.

Another cousin is Jess Settles, an all-Big Ten basketball player at Iowa (1994-1999) and the school’s No. 9 career scorer. And there’s also cousin Brad Carlson, who played baseball at Iowa (1999-2002) and is the career home-run hitter. George’s sister, Emma, played volleyball at Iowa (2009).

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Legacy (Rose Bowl) Hawks

Cole Croston’s father, Dave, was an outstanding offensive lineman for Iowa, and played in the 1986 Rose Bowl. Dave, a co-captain in 1986, was a third-round pick in the 1987 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. George Kittle’s father, Bruce, was also an offensive lineman for the Hawkeyes and a senior co-captain on the 1981 Rose Bowl team.

Their offensive line coach at Iowa? Kirk Ferentz.

Let’s take a poll

With the Iowa caucuses right around the corner, polls are en vogue. The same goes for the Hawkeyes. Iowa is currently ranked fourth in the Associated Press poll, third in the Amway/USA Today Coaches poll.

After being unranked from Nov. 21, 2010, to Oct. 4, 2015, Iowa has been in the Top 25 for nine consecutive weeks, and have resided in the Top 10 for six weeks in a row. That’s a stretch of popularity any politician would love.

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Speaking of polls…

Iowa is one of five teams with multiple road victories over ranked opponents this season. The Hawkeyes won at No. 18 Wisconsin, 10-6, and No. 20 Northwestern, 40-10. Michigan State also had a pair of victories over ranked teams (No. 12 Michigan, No. 2 Ohio State). Alabama has three road Top 25 victories and Mississippi and UCLA had two apiece.

Do you know me?

Marshall Koehn set a Kinnick Stadium record when he kicked a 57-yard field goal to defeat Pittsburgh on Sept. 19. The holder was Dillon Kidd, who gets plenty of attention as Iowa’s punter. But there’s another player who had a hand in the stadium record.

His name is Tyler Kluver, a walk-on from Marshalltown. He is Iowa’s long snapper on punts, field goals and point-after touchdown kicks. He wears No. 97.

Taste of perfection

This is the fifth time Iowa has had an undefeated regular-season record, and the first time since 1922 (7-0).

That 1922 team, coached by Howard Jones, allowed a total of 33 points all season. That undefeated season was part of a school-record 20-game winning streak that started in 1920 and ended in 1923. Jones left Iowa after the 1923 season and went to Southern California, where his teams won seven conference titles, five Rose Bowls and three mythical national titles.

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Moore good news

Iowa and Michigan State are among the six finalists up for the Joe Moore Award, which goes to the nation’s top offensive line.

Moore was Ferentz’s  high school coach at Upper St. Clair High School in Pittsburgh. They would later coach together in 1980 at the University of Pittsburgh. Moore was the offensive line coach, Ferentz his graduate assistant. Ferentz was hired by Hayden Fry at Iowa the following season.

Perfection, good and bad

There are 127 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools. Just two of them, Clemson and Iowa, remain undefeated. Iowa’s success this season is a far cry from 1973. That team, coached by Frank Lauterbur, went 0-11.

Iowa won a total of 10 games in a four-season stretch starting in 1971. So relish 12-0, Hawkeye fans.