The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa football’s Marshall Meeder hits game-winning field goal against Nebraska in Hawkeye debut

The Central Michigan transfer’s 38-yard field goal as time expired sent the Hawkeyes home with their 10th win.
Cody Blissett
Iowa’s Marshall Meeder kicks a 33-yard game-winning field goal during a football game between Iowa and Nebraska at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln Nebraska on Friday, Nov. 23, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cornhuskers, 13-10.

LINCOLN, Neb. — Marshall Meeder thought his football career was over.

After finishing his third season at Central Michigan, the placekicker was ready to “move on in his life” and focus on his engineering career.

But on Friday, his name was called to kick a game-winning 38-yard field goal against one of Iowa’s biggest rivals to send the Hawkeyes home with a 10-win regular season.

And he delivered.

“I feel like that’s every kid’s dream,” Meeder said after the 13-10 win over Nebraska. “Like, I’ve always dreamt of that moment since I started as a freshman [in high school]. I’m just happy to be there for my team and get that 10th win.”

Hailing from Eaton Rapids, Michigan, Meeder started playing soccer when he was a young boy. One of his family friends was a high school football coach and convinced him to get into the sport. He started going to camps and progressed each day.

When he got to college, it was hard for Meeder to find a healthy balance between athletics and academics.

After three years with the Chippewas, he entered the transfer portal before spring camp but didn’t think he would receive another opportunity to play. He was “mentally done” and didn’t even bother to pick up a football for most of the summer.

That was until Hawkeye special teams coach LeVar Woods gave him a call two weeks before school started and asked if he wanted to be a Hawkeye.

Meeder played in 29 games at Central Michigan, converting 30 of 45 field goal attempts with a long of 53 yards. Current Iowa graduate assistant Adam Cox was an assistant at Central Michigan and recruited Meeder to the Chippewas.

So, Cox put in a good word about Meeder when Iowa started to look for another kicker after former Hawkeye Aaron Blom was issued criminal charges as part of the state’s sports gambling investigation.

Meeder said he started training 3-4 times a week after Woods called him. The kicker then arrived in Iowa City, a place he had never visited, just three days before school started.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so why would you not come here?” Meeder said about committing to Iowa. “It’s a very family-oriented atmosphere. I think that really makes me feel like I’m at home. I’ve never been to Iowa, and it’s been great ever since I’ve been here.”

The transfer had not played a snap for the Hawkeyes this season before his go-ahead kick on Friday. In fact, he hadn’t attempted a field goal in a game since he made a 24-yarder against Western Michigan on Nov. 16, 2022.

But Iowa’s starting kicker Drew Stevens was struggling against the Huskers. He had two field goal attempts blocked and two kickoffs sail out-of-bounds, something head coach Kirk Ferentz called “uncharacteristic” of the second-year, who nailed a 53-yard game-winner against Northwestern earlier this month.

The coaching staff told Meeder at halftime that he would be the go-to kicker in the final 30 minutes.

“It just felt like maybe it was best to let him sit a little bit,” Ferentz said of Stevens. “And then the other component there was Marshall, he’s just a really good young guy. He’s had a great attitude since he joined us, and then he’s performed really consistently.”

Meeder wasn’t sure when or if his opportunity would come on Friday, especially after Hawkeye quarterback Deacon Hill threw a pick with 31 seconds left, but he made sure to stay warm and get plenty of reps in the net on the sidelines.

With the game knotted at 10 with 15 seconds remaining, Hawkeye defensive lineman Ethan Hurkett intercepted a pass from Nebraska QB Chubba Purdy to give the Iowa offense one last chance in regulation.

Hawkeye running back Leshon Williams then executed one of the biggest plays of the game when he burst up the middle for a 22-yard gain to put Iowa in field-goal range.

The coaching staff, however, wanted to make the possible game-winning kick a bit more comfortable for Meeder. So, when Hill caught the next snap, he backed up five yards, shifted toward the center of the field, kneeled, and immediately called a timeout.

This gave Meeder a straight path toward the uprights. Meeder’s teammates were hyping him up on the sideline before he trotted out to the field, but the kicker tried to stay to himself so his nerves wouldn’t spike.

“Really try not to think about anything. It’s the same kick I’ve made, just a little more pressure,” he said. “I’ve done it a million times, no reason to mess it up now.”

With over 86,000 fans cheering against him, Meeder took a deep breath and nailed the kick, watching the ball sail through the goalposts until the refs signaled it was good.

“I always like to wait and see because kickers celebrate before and miss, so I just like to make sure it’s in,” Meeder said of him watching his kick.

After the kick went through, it was pure chaos. Meeder threw his hands in the air and was swarmed by his Hawkeye teammates, who lifted the kicker up in celebration at midfield.

Hill, a fellow transfer, gave Meeder a big hug after the win.

“I was like, ‘You’re the man. You saved my butt,'” Hill said of his interaction with Meeder on the field.

The love from his teammates didn’t stop there. When Meeder arrived in the locker room, he was lifted up again and drenched in water.

“I gave him a kiss on the forehead in the locker room, too. I was extremely stoked for him,” Hill added.

Ferentz said Meeder earned this respect from his teammates because of his work ethic and consistency he shows in practice.

“I got faith in every one of my teammates. It could have been the ball boy [kicking the game-winning FG]. At the end of the day, they’re a Hawkeye,” Williams said.

While happy with the outcome, Meeder didn’t want to take too much of the spotlight.

“We both love each other. He’s my brother. Like, I wish this were him, honestly, kicking the game-winner,” Meeder said of Stevens. “I don’t want to take glory from him or anything. He’s a great kid and a great kicker.”

Besides celebrating with his team, Meeder is excited to talk about the game with his family. His uncle drove from Michigan to watch the game in person, while the rest of his family saw his Hawkeye debut on TV.

Meeder isn’t sure what his future on the field holds, but Friday’s game-winner will always have a special place in his heart.

“That’s my number one [football memory], for sure,” he said with a smile.

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About the Contributors
Kenna Roering, Sports Editor
Kenna Roering is The Daily Iowan's sports editor. She is a junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism with a minor in sports and recreation management. Kenna previously worked as a sports reporter for men's wrestling and volleyball and was the summer sports editor in 2023. This is her second year with the DI.
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
Cody Blissett is a visual editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a third year student at the University of Iowa studying cinema and screenwriting. This is his first year working for The Daily Iowan.