A trip down memory lane
Illinois at Iowa
September 13, 1975
Year one (1974) of the Bob Commings' era was a success.
You read correctly, a success.
If you think going 3-8 isn't successful, consider that the previous three seasons Iowa won a total of four football games.
Some thought Iowa's fortunes were on the rise in 1975 as they returned forty lettermen and fifteen starters. The schedule would be marginally easier as Michigan rotated off, but the Hawkeyes still had Ohio State, Penn State, and USC on the docket.
After opening the season with the Buckeyes twice and the Wolverines twice over the four previous years, Iowa fans were eager to welcome Coach Bob Blackman and his Fighting Illini of Illinois.
The optimism of the fans was well founded as Iowa had taken two close victories from Illinois in previous years.
In 1972 Royce Mix got the Hawks started with an early 92-yard touchdown run, but it was the late game heroics of quarterback Butch Caldwell that saved Iowa. Caldwell drove the Hawkeyes for a touchdown with four minutes left in the game and then ran in the extra point to give Iowa the 15-14 lead it would take to the end.
In 1974 Iowa again trailed, this time 12-7, in the waning minutes. Facing fourth and goal from the eight-yard line Rob Fick hit Eddie Donovan on a screen pass which Donovan broke open for the go-ahead score with seventeen seconds to play.
A large crowd was expected for the Hawkeye home opener in 1975. In fact, 57,200 faithful fans showed up giving Iowa the largest gate in seven years.
Illinois drew first blood behind Dan Beaver's 23-yard field goal.
Iowa drove the length of the field and took the lead when Bob Holmes plunged over on a line buck from the one-yard line. Nick Quartaro missed the extra point and Iowa's lead was 6-3.
Both teams struggled moving the ball until late in the 3rd quarter. Facing 3rd and three deep in Iowa territory Commings misread the down and distance markers and thinking it was 3rd and six, he called for a short pass that Scott Studwell picked off and carried 29 yards to pay dirt. The PAT made it 10-6 Illinois. Beaver would add one more field goal and the Illini went to the locker room up 13-6.
In the second half, Iowa came out breathing fire and took the opening kickoff and methodically drove downfield behind the churning legs of Jim Jensen and Rod Wellington. Eight plays later Wellington bust free for an 18-yard jaunt to the end zone. But for the second time the usually reliable Nick Quartaro misses the Pat and Illinois still held a slim lead 13-12.
That was it for the Iowa offense though as the running game ground to a halt and Tom McLaughlin struggled in his first start at quarterback.
Illinois scored on a quarterback sneak by Jim Kopatz and a short run by Kurt Steger and Illinois went home a 27-12 winner.
Tom McLaughlin's first start was memorable only for how bad it was. He was 1-12 with an interception. But in the poor guy's defense he was sacked 7 times for -49 yards. Hard to be accurate from your backside.
Jim Jensen with nine carries for 71 yards and Rod Wellington with nine totes for 67 yards led a balanced Iowa rushing attack.
Iowa's two deeps:
TE - Brandt Yocum 6-2, 230 Tom Grine 6-1, 218
LT - Rod Walters 6-4, 256 Aaron Leonard 6-3, 270
LG - Joe Devlin 6-5, 277 Scott Boettner 6-2, 232
C - Jim Hilgenberg 6-2, 218 Mike Mayer 6-1, 220
RG - Dave Butler 6-3, 251 Bruce Davis 6-2, 240
RT - Gary Ladick 6-2, 240 Mike Klimczak 6-4, 250
SE - Bill Schultz 5-11, 175, Steve Paulson 6-1, 192
QB - Tom McLaughlin 6-1, 203 Butch Caldwell 6-0, 201
LH - Jim Jensen 6-5, 233 Dave Schick 6-0, 195
RH - Ed Donovan 6-1, 188 Rod Wellington 6-1, 218
FB - Mark fetter 6-0, 207 Bobby Holmes 6-1, 236
LE - Mark Phillips 6-5, 232 Dean Moore 6-2, 197
LT - Rick Marsh 6-6, 256 Tyrone Dye 6-5, 246
NG - Dave Bryant 6-0, 230 Lenny Trocano 6-0, 223
RT - Warren Peiffer 6-6, 260 Doug Benschoter 6-2, 244
RE - Dave Wagner 6-2, 209 Nate Washington 6-6, 230
LLB - Andre Jackson 6-1, 240 Kerry Feuerbach 6-0, 230
RLB - John Campbell 5-10, 199 Dennis Armington 6-2, 217
LC - Bobby Elliott 5-10, 175, Jim Caldwell 5-11, 182
LS - Shanty Burks 6-0, 200 Chuck Sodergren 6-1, 190
RS - Rick Penney 6-0, 188 Bobby Elliott
RC - Roger Stech 6-0, 184, Walt Walker 6-1, 189
This week's photos: