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Error-prone Hawkeyes stage a great escape

Ricky Stanzi ran into big trouble against Indiana, throwing five interceptions, but he helped rally Iowa with a 28-point fourth quarter. Ricky Stanzi ran into big trouble against Indiana, throwing five interceptions, but he helped rally Iowa with a 28-point fourth quarter. (Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)
Associated Press / November 1, 2009

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Of all the holes Iowa has dug itself, this was the deepest.

Indiana was leading by 14 in the third quarter and was just 2 yards from the Hawkeyes’ end zone. Given how poorly quarterback Ricky Stanzi was playing, one more touchdown might have brought their charmed season crashing down.

Tyler Sash instead returned an interception 86 yards for a touchdown, and Stanzi bounced back from a career-high five interceptions to rally the No. 7 Hawkeyes to a 42-24 victory at Iowa City, yet another improbable finish in a season full of them.

Brandon Wegher had a career-high 118 yards rushing and three TDs for the Hawkeyes (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten), who scored 28 points in the fourth quarter to stun the shellshocked Hoosiers.

Iowa is off to the best start in school history, thanks to four wins by 3 points or fewer. And after needing two blocked field goals to beat FCS member Northern Iowa in its opener, the Hawkeyes control their own destiny in the Big Ten - with a chance to play for the BCS title.

“Our guys don’t buckle,’’ coach Kirk Ferentz said. “If they were ever going to buckle, I think today would have been the day.’’

Stanzi threw four interceptions in the third quarter alone on a windy day, and Indiana (4-5, 1-4) took a 24-14 lead into the fourth.

Stanzi responded by hitting Marvin McNutt for a 92-yard TD pass and, moments later, connecting with Derrell Johnson-Koulianos for 66 yards to put Iowa ahead, 28-24, with 11:38 left.

Florida 41, Georgia 17 - The top-ranked Gators (8-0, 6-0) beat their bitter rivals for the 17th time in the last 20 meetings and in the process clinched the SEC East title. Tim Tebow accounted for four TDs and A.J. Jones had two interceptions. The Bulldogs (4-4, 3-3) lost for the third time in four games.

Texas 41, Oklahoma St. 14 - Curtis Brown and Earl Thomas each returned interceptions for scores and Cody Johnson had two short TD runs as the third-ranked Longhorns (8-0, 5-0) routed the No. 13 Cowboys (6-2, 3-1) in Stillwater, Okla., to establish themselves as the front-runner in the Big 12 South.

Cincinnati 28, Syracuse 7 - Zach Collaros threw four TD passes as the No. 5 Bearcats rolled at the Carrier Dome for their 14th straight regular-season victory. Cincinnati (8-0, 4-0 Big East) is one win off the best start in school history, set in 1951.

Boise St. 45, San Jose St. 7 - The sixth-ranked Broncos moved to 8-0 (3-0 WAC) by blowing out the Spartans at home. Kellen Moore threw for 278 yards and three TDs and ran for another score.

TCU 41, UNLV 0 - At Fort Worth, the No. 8 Horned Frogs (8-0, 4-0 Mountain West) got three TD passes from Andy Dalton and held the Rebels to 160 total yards in their 10th victory in a row.

LSU 42, Tulane 0 - The No. 9 Tigers (7-1) had an easy time at home as Brandon LaFell caught two TD passes and Charles Scott rushed for a pair of scores.

Penn St. 34, Northwestern 13 - Evan Royster ran for 118 yards, including a 69-yard TD during Penn State’s fourth-quarter surge, and the 12th-ranked Nittany Lions (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten) blanked the Wildcats (5-4, 2-3) during the second half in Evanston, Ill.

Houston 50, Southern Miss 43 - Case Keenum threw for a career-high 559 yards and five TDs, the last coming with 21 seconds remaining to allow the No. 15 Cougars (7-1, 3-1 Conference USA) to escape at home and win their fourth straight.

Ohio St. 45, New Mexico St. 0 - Taking a break from their Big Ten schedule, the No. 17 Buckeyes (7-2) pounded the visiting Aggies behind a TD pass and scoring run from Terrelle Pryor.

Utah 22, Wyoming 10 - Eddie Wide ran for 135 yards and a 5-yard touchdown with 1:41 remaining that helped the No. 19 Utes (7-1, 4-0 Mountain West) survive an off night in Salt Lake City.

Tennessee 31, South Carolina 13 - Jonathan Crompton fired two scoring passes for the host Volunteers (4-4, 2-3 SEC), who turned three fumbles by the No. 21 Gamecocks (6-3, 3-3) into TDs.

Oklahoma 42, Kansas St. 30 - Landry Jones passed for four TDs and DeMarco Murray scored three times to pace the No. 22 Sooners (5-3, 3-1 Big 12) at home.

Auburn 33, Mississippi 20 - The host Tigers (6-3, 3-3 SEC) scored 23 points in the third quarter and Ben Tate rushed for 144 yards in a win over the No. 24 Rebels (5-3, 2-3).

Notre Dame 40, Washington St. 14 - The No. 25 Fighting Irish (6-2) got their first easy win in almost two months, thrashing the Cougars (1-7) in an offsite home game in San Antonio. Golden Tate ran for a TD and caught a 50-yard desperation pass in the end zone at the end of the first half.