In spite of losing multiple stars to injury and controversy swirling around one of its coordinators, Iowa is headed to the Big Ten Championship Game. The Hawkeyes secured their second Big Ten West title in the past three years with a 15-13 win against Illinois Saturday night. They’re set to play either Michigan or Ohio State, as the Buckeyes and Wolverines will face off in the regular season finale with the Big Ten East on the line.
Iowa’s defense was as strong as ever against the Illini. The Hawkeyes opened the scoring by forcing a safety on Illinois’ first offensive drive of the game and forced a turnover on downs on Illinois’ potential game-winning drive with just under four minutes left to play in the fourth quarter.
But Iowa’s embattled offense deserves some credit. Illinois took a 10-9 lead with 6:53 left in the second quarter and expanded on it later with a field goal. That lead held for almost 30 minutes, but evaporated in just six seconds in the fourth quarter when Iowa running back Kaleb Johnson ripped off a 30-yard rushing touchdown.
Iowa had its extra point blocked, which meant Illinois could have won the game with a field goal. The Hawkeyes held and were able to bleed the clock and finally kneel the game out after forcing a turnover on downs. Johnson had a key 12-yard run on third-and-8 to ice the game.
The Hawkeyes have faced as much adversity as any team this season. Starting quarterback Cade McNamara suffered a season-ending knee injury against Michigan State, just five games into the year. Tight end Erick All, who is still Iowa’s leading receiver, tore his ACL in mid-October.
Then, in the week leading up to the Illinois game, it was revealed that star defensive back/punt return specialist Cooper DeJean — a potential first-round prospect in the NFL Draft — suffered a season-ending injury in practice. Those injuries alone would be too much for most teams to overcome, but the Hawkeyes have also seen multiple running backs and wide receivers miss time through the course of the year.
On top of the injury bug, Iowa is playing with one major assistant that won’t be back after this year. The Hawkeyes announced Oct. 30 that offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, coach Kirk Ferentz’s son, will not return to Iowa’s staff in 2024. He will finish the 2023 season in his current role. It was his offense, with a first-year starting quarterback and a beleaguered group of playmakers, that willed Iowa to victory late in the fourth quarter against Illinois.
AMES — Keshon Gilbert tried to find the words to describe several of his mammoth moments during Thursday’s Cy-Hawk men’s basketball game against Iowa, but couldn’t.
The first-year Iowa State guard’s mind whirred with happy thoughts after his career-high-tying 25 point-effort fueled his team’s most lopsided win over the Hawkeyes in series history — a 90-65 rout that played out before a sold-out and amped-up Hilton Coliseum crowd.
But forming a narrative to fully explain his ebullient emotional state? That eluded him.
“I’ve never been a part of a crowd like that,” said Gilbert, who scored 11 consecutive points during one stirring second-half stretch. “I can’t really explain how I felt. It was just a good feeling for me.”
Enough said. Gilbert and his ISU teammates let their dominant play do most of the talking.
The Cyclones (7-2) led all but 35 seconds against the Hawkeyes (5-4) and forced 19 turnovers — the most by Iowa in a game this season. ISU forwards Robert Jones and Tre King combined to go 14 of 17 from the field while teaming up for 35 points, and the senior duo helped the Cyclones craft a robust 46-18 advantage in points in the paint.
“It started right from the jump,” said Hawkeyes head coach Fran McCaffrey, whose team trounced ISU, 75-56, last season in Iowa City. “They went inside and they had a couple of and-ones early. We kind of fell in love with the 3-ball at that point because we got a little bit behind. We have to do a better job collectively to limit that kind of discrepancy.”
Iowa found few answers on either end of the floor Thursday as the Cyclones led by as many as 32 points. ISU point guard Tamin Lipsey — who notched his first career triple-double last Friday at DePaul — totaled 11 points, a team-best seven rebounds and matched Gilbert with a game-high six assists. The Cyclones shot 53.3 percent from the field while limiting the Hawkeyes to 38.6 percent shooting. They also outscored Iowa 23-9 in points off of turnovers while recording their first win this season against a KenPom-rated top-40 team.
“There (are) always going to be things from our end that we feel like we can keep improving on, but if you look at the full 40 minutes — the focus, the effort, the intent, the execution of the game plan — our guys did the job and they stayed locked in,” Cyclones head coach T.J. Otzelberger said.
The Cy-Hawk series is currently locked into blowout mode, as either ISU or Iowa has won by double-digits in seven of the past eight meetings. The Cyclones have emerged victorious in Iowa City once since 2014 and the Hawkeyes have done the same in Ames one time during the same span. So home court matters deeply in this rivalry in which neither team has won more than three consecutive games since Iowa triumphed in five straight meetings from 1978-83.
“Ain’t no words to describe,” King said of the loud Hilton crowd. “It’s the stuff you dream of as a kid and being a kid who’s not from here, I’ve seen how Hilton’s gotten over the years, and to be a part of that — and be a part of a rivalry win is indescribable.”
At least King found the words for a while. Gilbert eventually did, too, but the 6-10 Jones summed up the night from ISU’s perspective the best.
“It’s delightful,” said the senior who was one of the first players to transfer into the Cyclones’ program after Otzelberger took it over in 2021. “It doesn’t get better than beating your rival to end your career.”
No it doesn’t. Just ask Gilbert, who Otzelberger recruited to UNLV before taking the ISU job. He giggled as Jones spoke.
“He said, ‘Delightful,’” Gilbert joked.
Jones kept smiling.
“Having the crowd respond like that is magical,” he said. “As you guys know.”
The University of Iowa College of Law is delighted to announce that Barbara Rodriguez (22JD) is a recipient of the 2024 Skadden Fellowship, marking the first time an Iowa Law graduate has received this honor. Skadden Fellowships, recognized as the most prestigious and competitive awards for public interest lawyers, provide recipients two years of funding to dedicate themselves to full-time public interest law pursuits.
Rodriguez will join a distinguished group of 28 graduating law students and judicial clerks from across the United States, focusing on critical issues such as disability rights, education equity, housing, immigrants’ rights, loan borrowers’ rights, LGBTQ+ healthcare rights, and environmental law.
Gretchen Wolf (02JD), a partner at Skadden and an Iowa Law alum, expresses her excitement: “I am so excited that Barbara Rodriguez was selected as the first Skadden Fellow from Iowa Law. As a member of the Fellowship advisory committee, I had the privilege of interviewing Barbara and reading about her proposed project. She was an incredible candidate and will make a huge impact on the lives of immigrants in Iowa facing the threat of deportation.”
As a Skadden Fellow, Rodriguez will provide legal representation, community outreach, and know-your-rights trainings for noncitizens at high risk of deportation. Her work will be hosted by the Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice (Iowa MMJ) in Des Moines. It will be in collaboration with the Prairielands Freedom Fund, co-founded by Iowa Law alum Julia Zalenski (13JD).
Expressing her enthusiasm for the opportunity, Rodriguez says, “I am thrilled to be able to help meet the legal needs of immigrant communities across Iowa and excited for the Skadden Foundation to lend visibility and resources to the problem of underrepresentation in immigration proceedings.”
Rodriguez’s dedication to immigration rights and past successes make her a deserving receipt of the fellowship. Earlier this year, she was awarded the 2023 “Law360 Distinguished Legal Writing Award” by the Burton Awards for her note published in the Iowa Law Review titled, “In the Interest of Justice: Presuming Prejudice When the Right to Counsel in Removal Proceedings Is Denied.”
While at Iowa Law, Rodriguez was an active member of Iowa Law’s Immigration Advocacy Clinic led by Professor Bram Elias and the Community Empowerment Law Project led by Daria Fisher Page. The immigration clinic provides students with a unique opportunity to represent juveniles and adults in deportation/removal proceedings while advocating for legal and policy issues affecting the civil rights of immigrants and their communities. The community empowerment law project represents individuals, nonprofits, and organizations working to strengthen their communities, create economic opportunity, and advance social justice. Rodriguez says her time in the law clinic instilled a practice of reflection and collaboration that she looks forward to bringing to her work as a Skadden Fellow with Iowa MMJ.
“Clinic taught me to counsel and navigate clients through the uncertainty of the immigration legal system,” says Rodriguez. “It shaped my understanding of the complex needs faced by immigrant communities across Iowa and the roles that I can play–as a lawyer and community member–to help move the needle, if only a little. Moreover, the clinic’s ‘law firm’ model allowed me to learn and benefit not only from Bram’s and Daria’s supervision and mentorship, but from all clinical faculty, students, and clients.”
In tandem with her clinic involvement, Rodriguez actively engaged in various volunteer and internship experiences. During her 1L year, she volunteered through the Citizen Lawyers Program, coordinating the New Iowans Legal Advice Clinic. In her 2L year, she interned with the Iowa Public Defender’s Office in Iowa City and the Harvard Immigrant and Refugee Clinic. In her 3L year, she volunteered with Catholic Charities and Iowa MMJ, in collaboration with other pro bono providers across the state, to address the immigration legal needs of Afghan citizens resettling in Iowa. Reflecting on these experiences, Rodriguez expresses their pivotal role in preparing her upcoming work.
“My clinic, volunteer, and internship experiences while at Iowa Law were so important in providing insight into the varied legal needs of immigrant communities, the unique challenges to accessing representation in Iowa, and the small-but-mighty community of immigration lawyers and activists across the state.”
As the first Skadden fellow from Iowa Law, Rodriguez extends her gratitude to the supportive faculty and staff who played a crucial role in her journey.
“I feel incredibly lucky and grateful to the many faculty and staff at Iowa Law who prepared, positioned, and supported me to do the exact work I want to do — Dawn Anderson, Tami Diebel, Bram Elias, Stella Elias, AJ Finch, Daria Fisher Page, Emily Hughes, Peter Persaud, Anya Prince, June Tai. I could go on.”
For a comprehensive list of the 2024 Skadden Fellows and the organizations they will be working with, please visit SkaddenFellowships.org.
The Canadian National Railroad announced it has reached an agreement to acquire the Waterloo-based Iowa Northern Railway.
Iowa Northern has some 275 miles of track that runs from Manly to Cedar Rapids, with branch lines from Waterloo to Oelwein, and Forest City to Belmond. The Iowa Northern website says it has 110 employees and serves 20 grain elevators, two ethanol plants, and two mineral processing facilities.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed, and it must be approved by federal regulators, which is expected in 2024.