This is the final part of a three part series of 1979.
The Hawkeyes, under new head coach Hayden Fry, started the 1979 season 3-3. They lost their first three games to Indiana 30-26, Oklahoma 21-6 and Nebraska 24-21.
Then Iowa won three straight beating Iowa State, 30-14, Illinois, 13-7, and Northwestern, 58-6.
That was the first time in 15 years that the Hawkeyes had won three straight games in a season.
The last time Iowa had won three games in a row was 1964, I was 10 years old, the coach Jerry Burns and the quarterback was former City High quarterback Gary Snook.
Iowa won its first three games in 1964 beating Idaho, Washington and Indiana… then they lost their last six games and finished 3-6.
Jump up to 1979, the Hawkeyes hosted Minnesota for a sold-out homecoming in the seventh game. At the time, 60,500 people could fill up Kinnick.
The Gophers snapped Iowa’s three game winning streak with a couple of long touchdown passes in the third quarter. The final score was 24-7.
Dennis Mosley scored Iowa’s only touchdown which tied Iowa’s single season record with 11.
Mosley moved into second place for the most rushing yards in a career as a Hawkeye.
Levi Mitchell was in first with 1,743 yards at the time.
To put that into perspective in 2008 Shonn Greene ran for 1,850 yards… in one season.
Iowa traveled to Wisconsin the next week and trailed 10-0 before coming back for a 24-13 victory.
Phil Sues threw three touchdown passes, Reggie Roby kicked a field goal and Iowa’s record was 4-4.
Mosley had 79 yards and scored on a 75-yard touchdown pass. He broke two single-season school records that day; most yards gained rushing (956) and most touchdowns scored which was 12.
Purdue came to town the following week and the Hawks faced an 18-game losing streak against the Boilermakers… make that 19 in a 20-14 loss.
It was so close.
The Hawkeyes were inside the Purdue 20 with fourth down and less than two minutes to play.
A Phil Sues pass to Brad Reid was deflected in the end zone and Iowa couldn’t get it done.
Dennis Mosley became the first player in Hawkeye history to rush for over 1,000 yards. He had 88 yards in 21 carries and totaled 1,044 for the season.
Can you believe that since then the 1,000 yard mark has been passed 16 times by Hawkeye running backs?
Sedrick Shaw did it three times, Fred Russell and Ladell Betts did it twice.
The crowd gave Mosley a standing ovation and he also caught six passes that afternoon.
Iowa traveled to Ohio State the next week to face the third-ranked Buckeyes.
State was 10-0 and Earl Bruce was in his first year as head coach.
Five fumbles and five interceptions didn’t help and Iowa lost 34-7.
“Welcome to the Salvation Army,” said Hayden Fry. “I’ve never been associated with an offense so nice about giving the ball away.”
The Hawks dropped to 4-6 and a winning season was gone.
Iowa finished the season with a 33-23 home victory over Michigan State.
Dennis Mosley was the star of the day, scoring three touchdowns and rushing for 136 yards.
Dennis led the Big Ten in rushing that season. The last Hawkeye to lead the league in rushing was Bob Jeter 20 years ago.
What a season for Dennis.
He not only broke the season rushing record with 1,262 yards but became the career rushing leader (2,133). Dennis also set records for most rushing attempts in a game (39), in a season (279) and career (458).
Mosley also tied the record for most touchdowns in a game (4), most touchdowns scored in a season (16), most points scored in a game (24) and most points scored in a season (96).
Sedrick Shaw now holds the single-season record for most rushing attempts (316) in a season, most rushing attempts in career (837) and is the career rushing leader with 4,156 yards.
Shonn Greene holds the record for most touchdowns scored in a season with 20.
The 1979 team had 3,799 yards in total offense. That was the third best ever for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa had three players make first team All-Big Ten– running back Dennis Mosley, center Jay Hilgenberg and linebacker Leven Weiss.
That was the first time Iowa had three first team All-Big Ten team players since the Forest Evashevski era.
Mosley was also named first team All-American by United Press International.
Iowa was still playing in the old Fieldhouse and the 1979-1980 wrestling team was winning its seventh straight Big Ten championship and third straight NCAA championship.
Dan Gable was the head man and the Hawks finished 17-1 for the regular season. The only loss was to Cal-Poly 27-12.
Iowa had eight All-Americans that year, led by national champs Randy Lewis (134) and Ed Banach (177).
Dan Glenn (118) finished second, King Mueller (150) third, Dean Phinney (Hwt.), Lenny Zelesky (142) fourth, Mark Stevenson (158) seventh and Doug Anderson (167) eighth.
1979-1980 was also the year Iowa went to the Final Four in basketball under Lute Olsen.
What if Ronnie Lester could have stayed healthy?
Ronnie missed 16 of Iowa’s 31 games and the Hawks finished 23-8, 10-8 in the Big Ten. He led the team with a 14.8 scoring average.
The starting five when Ronnie was out included former West High Trojan Steve Waite, who averaged 8.0 ppg., Steve Krafcisin (12.3), Kevin Boyle (11.8), Kenny Arnold (13.5) and Vince Brookins (11.0).
How about the bench with Bobby Hansen and former Regina star Mark Gannon.
Both were freshman and both averaged 5.6 points per game.
Overall it was a really good year for Hawkeye sports and once again I couldn’t have done it without Al Grady’s book,“25 Years With the Fighting Hawkeyes.”
In 1951 Al was named sports editor for the Iowa City Press-Citizen and held that position until 1978. Al passed away in 2003 but he was at most of the football press conferences up until that time.
Al was 8 years old when he saw his first Hawkeye football game in 1935. He covered Iowa football for over 50 years.