He was equally heady against the Buckeyes. Noticing on the first series that Ohio State was double-covering Moritz and Harmon, Long went 23 yards down the middle to his wide-open tight end, Mike Hufford, who hadn't caught a pass in Iowa's first two victories. That gain led to a 25-yard Tom Nichol field goal and a 3-0 lead seven minutes into the game. Then, with Iowa trailing 7-3 early in the third period, Long used his head again. First, he found Hufford unattended and completed a 16-yarder to him that gave the Hawkeyes a first down at the Buckeye 18. On second down from the 16, he caught Ohio State in an alignment that seemed to indicate the Buckeyes would again ignore Hufford. At the line Long called for a "Y Middle," a simple route that sent Hufford straight down the field. "As soon as I looked up and saw what coverage they were in, I knew it was a touchdown if Chuck got the ball to me," said Hufford. He did, it was, and Iowa led 10-7.
Long didn't get much out of his running backs (89 yards), primarily because Iowa's leading rusher going into the game, Owen Gill, was bothered by a sore shoulder and finished with only 22 yards on 11 carries. Though Ohio State deserves much of the credit for shutting down Iowa's ground game, Gill wasn't healthy enough to live up to the nickname, Baby Bull, that his teammates had given him in recognition of his hard running. However, Gill's absence did point to a depth uncharacteristic of the Hawkeyes. They still have Eddie Phillips at tailback, who's merely the leading career rusher (1,697 yards on 355 carries) among current Big Ten backs, and Norm Granger, whose key 16-yard run preceded Long's scoring pass to Hufford. Granger gives the Hawkeyes' tailback speed at fullback. At wide receiver, Iowa has both Moritz and the speedy Harmon, who turned an apparent incompletion into a 27-yard gain with a remarkable one-handed recovery of a Long pass that had bounced out of his hands.
On defense, it's the same story—better athletes who are making plays that Iowa didn't used to make. One series in the fourth quarter illustrated that well. On first down Tomczak found Flanker Cedric Anderson in the clear, but Hawkeye Cornerback Nate Creer jarred the ball loose to force an incompletion. Creer is part of the pipeline from Tilden High School in Brooklyn that also brought Gill and Mitchell to Iowa City.
On second down Tomczak found his big tight end, John Frank, who may be the best in the country, open, but Linebacker Larry Station rammed Frank and the ball fell incomplete. Station, who had a school-record 19 tackles against Penn State, is a rare Omaha blue-chipper who didn't go to Nebraska; he didn't want to be redshirted. As a freshman last year he led the Hawkeyes in tackles despite starting only five games. He also chose Iowa because he liked its computer-science department. He worked on an Apple system in high school, and he uses his own apple on the field, calling the defensive signals despite being only a sophomore.
On third down Tomczak was flushed out of the pocket and appeared headed for a first-down scramble before he was hauled down from behind by Tackle Paul Hufford, Mike's brother. Three years ago Hufford had torn virtually all the ligaments and cartilage in his right knee during a high school wrestling match, an injury that took 18 months to rehabilitate. "I cannot express the amazement I feel over the fact that Paul Hufford is even playing," says Fry. Ohio State had to punt, and on the next series Long threw his decisive bomb to Moritz. Three downs, three exceptional defensive plays by three players who not many years ago probably wouldn't have seriously considered going to Iowa.
Fry has attracted so many high-quality athletes that now, year in and year out, the Hawkeyes may have the depth to make the Big Ten a Big Three instead of the Big Two (Ohio State and Michigan) it was throughout the '70s. Certainly Fry has made good on the promise he made upon arriving in Iowa City, which was to "plow up a few snakes and kill them." One of those snakes was the image of the Hawkeyes as losers. After all, only two season's back someone asked then Iowa Quarterback Gordy Bohannon why he had left home in California to come to Iowa. Bohannon answered, "In life, we all have to make sacrifices." This year, playing for Iowa is liable to be more a celebration than a sacrifice.