1956 Iowa Hawkeyes football
Big Ten champion
Rose Bowl champion
Rose Bowl, W 35–19 vs. Oregon State
ConferenceBig Ten Conference
CoachesNo. 3
APNo. 3
Record9–1 (5–1 Big Ten)
Head coach
MVPKen Ploen
Home stadiumIowa Stadium
← 1955
1957 →
1956 Big Ten Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 3 Iowa $ 5 1 0 9 1 0
No. 7 Michigan 5 2 0 7 2 0
No. 12 Minnesota 4 1 2 6 1 2
No. 9 Michigan State 4 2 0 7 2 0
No. 15 Ohio State 4 2 0 6 3 0
Northwestern 3 3 1 4 4 1
Purdue 1 4 2 3 4 2
Illinois 1 4 2 2 5 2
Wisconsin 0 4 3 1 5 3
Indiana 1 5 0 3 6 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll

The 1956 Iowa Hawkeyes football team was an American football team that represented the University of Iowa in the 1956 Big Ten Conference football season. The Hawkeyes were champions of the Big Ten Conference and beat the Oregon State Beavers in the 1957 Rose Bowl, a rematch of a regular season game.

The team's statistical leaders included quarterback Ken Ploen with 386 passing yards, Ploen with 487 rushing yards, Ploen with 873 total yards, and Jim Gibbons with 255 receiving yards.[1] Tackle Alex Karras was selected as a first-team All-American.


September 29at IndianaW 27–025,000
October 6Oregon State*No. 20W 14–1341,027
October 13Wisconsin
  • Iowa Stadium
  • Iowa City, Iowa
W 13–753,273
October 20Hawaii*No. 12
  • Iowa Stadium
  • Iowa City, Iowa
W 34–040,000
October 27at PurdueNo. 12W 21–2041,415
November 3No. 17 MichiganNo. 7
  • Iowa Stadium
  • Iowa City, Iowa
L 14–1755,896
November 10at No. 6 MinnesotaNo. 15W 7–064,235
November 17No. 6 Ohio StateNo. 7
  • Iowa Stadium
  • Iowa City, Iowa
W 6–057,732
November 24Notre Dame*No. 3
  • Iowa Stadium
  • Iowa City, Iowa
W 48–856,632
January 1vs. No. 10 Oregon State*No. 3NBCW 35–19100,000
  • *Non-conference game
  • Rankings from AP Poll released prior to the game


1956 Iowa Hawkeyes football team roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Class
TE 78 Don Ahlgren Sr
OL 64 Frank Bloomquist Jr
G 63 Don Bowen Jr
C 52 Russell Breedlove So
OT 72 John Burroughs So
OL/DL 50 Bob Commings Jr
QB 23 Roy Coppotelli Jr
OT 73 Dick Deasy Sr
RB 20 Don Dobrino Sr
G 66 Hugh Drake So
QB 25 Randy Duncan So
HB 47 Kevin Furlong So
E 88 Jim Gibbons Jr
E 37 Frank Gilliam Sr
HB 14 Bill Gravel So
G 60 Gary Grouwinkel So
HB 44 Collins Hagler Jr
RB 40 William Happel Jr
RB 35 Fred Harris Jr
E 89 Toni Hatch Sr
E 84 Rob Haussman Sr
FB 32 Jon Janda Jr
E 81 Jerry Jenkinson Jr
OT 77 Alex Karras Jr
G 92 Paul Karras So
OT 70 Dick Klein So
HB 15 Delmar Kloewer Jr
HB 41 Melvin Knotts So
OT 76 George Kress Sr
E 85 Jeff Langston So
C 74 Charles Lewis So
HB 33 John Nocera So
HB 43 Orlando Pellegrino Sr
C 54 Charles Pierce Jr
QB 11 Ken Ploen Sr
OT 75 Frank Rigney Jr
OT 71 Bill Scott So
FB 37 Bill Stifter Jr
C 55 Don Suchy Sr
G 62 Dick Theer Jr
QB 26 Gene Veit Jr
FB 31 Marion Walker Sr
OT 94 Jim Willett Sr
Pos. # Name Class
Special teams
Pos. # Name Class
K 86 Bob Prescott So
Head coach
Coordinators/assistant coaches

  • (C) Team captain
  • (S) Suspended
  • (I) Ineligible
  • Injured
  • Redshirt

[2] Rose Bowl Media Guide


Further information: 1956 NCAA University Division football rankings

Ranking movements
Legend: ██ Increase in ranking. ██ Decrease in ranking.
— = Not ranked. ( ) = First place votes.
AP20121271573 (6)3 (12)3 (15)
Coaches3 (3)


Game summaries


Iowa at Indiana
1 234Total
Hawkeyes 13 077 27
Hoosiers 0 000 0

See also: 1956 Indiana Hoosiers football team

On September 29, 1956, Iowa defeated Indiana, 27–0, before a crowd of 25,000 at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Indiana. Iowa scored two touchdowns in the first quarter off an Indiana fumble and an interception. Iowa rushed for 242 yards to 76 yards for Indiana.[4]

Oregon State

Oregon State at Iowa
1 234Total
Beavers 6 070 13
Hawkeyes 0 0014 14

See also: 1956 Oregon State Beavers football team

On October 6, Iowa (ranked No. 20 in the AP Poll) defeated Oregon State, 14–13, before a crowd of 41,027 at Iowa Stadium in Iowa City. The game matched the same teams that met again in the 1957 Rose Bowl. Oregon State scored on its second play from scrimmage on a 30-yard pass, but the extra point attempt was blocked. Oregon State scored again in the third quarter on a 49-yard run by Paul Lowe and led, 13–0, at the start of the fourth quarter. Iowa threw two touchdown passes in a span of six minutes in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.[5]


Wisconsin at Iowa
1 234Total
Badgers 0 007 7
Hawkeyes 0 670 13

See also: 1956 Wisconsin Badgers football team and Iowa–Wisconsin football rivalry

On October 13, Iowa defeated Wisconsin, 13–7, before a crowd of 53,273 at Iowa Stadium. With only a minute remaining in the first half, Iowa drove 84 yards, running eight plays in 59 seconds and scoring on a pitchout from Ken Ploen to Mike Hagler. Iowa scored again on the first drive of the second half on a short run by Ploen, taking a 13–0 lead.[6]


Hawaii at Iowa
1 234Total
Rainbows 0 000 0
Hawkeyes 0 14146 34

On October 20, Iowa defeated Hawaii, 34–0, at Iowa Stadium in Iowa City. Iowa led, 14–0, at halftime and played second, third and fourth-string players in the second half, with a total of 42 Hawkeyes seeing game action. Iowa rushed for 266 yards and held Hawaii to 67 rushing yards.[7]


Iowa at Purdue
1 234Total
Hawkeyes 7 1400 21
Boilermakers 7 706 20

See also: 1956 Purdue Boilermakers football team

On October 27, Iowa (ranked No. 12 in the AP Poll) defeated Purdue, 21–20, before a crowd of 41,415 at Ross–Ade Stadium in West Lafayette. Purdue quarterback Len Dawson threw two touchdown passes, and Mel Dillard ran for a third. Iowa also scored three touchdowns, with the difference being a missed extra point. Purdue drove into Iowa territory late in the game, but Purdue fumbled at the 25-yard line with a minute and a half remaining in the game.[8]


Michigan at Iowa
1 234Total
Wolverines 3 077 17
Hawkeyes 0 1400 14

See also: 1956 Michigan Wolverines football team

On November 3, Michigan (ranked No. 17 in the AP Poll) defeated Iowa (ranked No. 7 in the AP Poll) by a 17–14 score before a crowd of 58,137 at Iowa Stadium in Iowa City. The loss was the only one of the year for Iowa. Iowa had not beaten Michigan since 1924. Michigan took a 3–0 lead in the first quarter on a field goal by Ron Kramer. Iowa then scored two touchdowns and led, 14–3, at halftime. One of the Iowa touchdowns was set up when Michigan's quarterback was sacked and fumbled with Alex Karras recovering the ball for Iowa. Michigan's third-string halfback, Mike Shatusky, scored two touchdowns in the second half, a three-yard run in the third quarter and a two-yard plunge with one minute and six seconds remaining in the game.[9]


Iowa at Minnesota
1 234Total
Hawkeyes 7 000 7
Golden Gophers 0 000 0

See also: 1956 Minnesota Golden Gophers football team and Floyd of Rosedale

On November 10, Iowa (ranked No. 15 in the AP Poll) defeated Minnesota (ranked No. 6), 7–0, before a crowd of 64,235 at Memorial Stadium in Minneapolis. Iowa coach implemented a 6-3-2 defense to contain Minnesota's speedy Bobby Cox. After the game, Cox noted: "I couldn't go outside. They forced me to go inside and then some linebacker would nail me."[10] The outcome put Iowa into the lead in the race for the conference's Rose Bowl bid. After the game, Iowa's players carried coach Evashevski off the field on their shoulders.[11]

Ohio State

Ohio State at Iowa
1 234Total
Buckeyes 0 000 0
Hawkeyes 0 060 6

See also: 1956 Ohio State Buckeyes football team

On November 17, Iowa (ranked No. 7 in the AP Poll) defeated Ohio State (ranked No. 6), 6–0, before a crowd of 57,732 at Iowa Stadium. Ohio State went into the game with the second best rushing attack in the country but were held to 147 rushing yards, their lowest rushing yardage total in two years. The result broke Ohio State's winning streak of 17 games against conference opponents and clinched for Iowa the conference championship and a berth in the Rose Bowl. After time expired, Iowa fans hauled down the goal posts and paraded through Iowa City.[12]

Notre Dame

Notre Dame at Iowa
1 234Total
Fighting Irish 0 080 8
Hawkeyes 14 14713 48

See also: 1956 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team

On November 24, Iowa (ranked No. 3) defeated Notre Dame, 48–8, before a crowd of 56,632 at Iowa Stadium. The victory, combined with Ohio State's loss, gave Iowa its first undisputed Big Ten championship since 1922. Iowa's 48 points was the fourth highest total allowed by a Notre Dame football team to that point in the program's history. Paul Hornung sprained a thumb 10 minutes into the game and did not return. Iowa rushed for 409 yards and scored on runs of 10 and 41 yards by Ken Ploen, 23 and 61 yards by Fred Harris, and 54 yards by Mike Hagler.[13]

Rose Bowl

Oregon State vs. Iowa
1 234Total
Beavers 0 667 19
Hawkeyes 14 777 35

See also: 1957 Rose Bowl

On January 1, 1957, Iowa defeated Oregon State, 35–19, in the 1957 Rose Bowl. Iowa scored five touchdowns, including a 49-yard touchdown run by Ken Ploen and a 66-yard touchdown run by Collins Hagler.[14]

Postseason awards

See also: 1956 College Football All-America Team and 1956 All-Big Ten Conference football team

Three Iowa players were picked by the Associated Press (AP) and/or the United Press (UP) as first-team players on the 1956 All-Big Ten Conference football team.[15][16] They were:

Position Name Team Selectors
Quarterback Ken Ploen Iowa AP, UP
End Frank Gilliam Iowa AP, UP
Tackle Alex Karras Iowa AP, UP
Center Don Suchy Iowa UP

Karras also received first-team honors on the 1956 College Football All-America Team from the Associated Press, the Football Writers Association of America, and the Central Press.

On December 3, 1956, both the Associated Press (AP) and United Press (UP) released their final college football polls. Both organizations ranked undefeated Oklahoma at the No. 1 spot with Iowa at No. 3.[17][18]

On December 4, 1956, the Heisman Trophy was awarded to Paul Hornung of Notre Dame. Iowa quarterback Ken Ploen placed ninth in the voting.[19][20]

On December 16, 1957, Iowa quarterback Ken Ploen received the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy as the most valuable player in the Big Ten.[21]

1957 NFL Draft

Main article: 1957 NFL Draft

Player Position Round Pick NFL club
Frank Gilliam End 7 76 Green Bay Packers
Dan Dobrino Back 10 117 Washington Redskins
John Nocera Back 16 182 Philadelphia Eagles
Ken Ploen Quarterback 19 222 Cleveland Browns



  1. ^ "1956 Iowa Hawkeyes Stats". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  2. ^ "1957 Oregon State Rose Bowl Media Guide" (PDF).
  3. ^ "Iowa 1956 AP Football Rankings". collegepollarchive.com. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  4. ^ Bert McGrane (September 30, 1956). "Hawkeyes Smash Indiana, 27–0". The Des Moines Register. pp. 1S, 10S – via Newspapers.com. open access
  5. ^ "Late Passes Save Hawks, 14–13: Duncan Fires 33-Yard Toss For Clincher". The Des Moines Register. October 7, 1956. pp. 1S, 3S – via Newspapers.com. open access
  6. ^ Bert McGrane (October 14, 1956). "Iowa Wins Again in 13–7 Thriller". The Des Moines Register. p. 1S – via Newspapers.com. open access
  7. ^ "Iowa Batters Hawaii, 34–0, For 4th Win". Council Bluffs (IA) Nonpareil. October 21, 1956. p. 1B – via Newspapers.com. open access
  8. ^ Bill Bryson (October 28, 1956). "It's No. 5: Iowa 21, Purdue 20!". The Des Moines Register. p. 1S – via Newspapers.com. open access
  9. ^ Tommy Devine. "U-M Pulls One Out of the Fire, 17–14". Detroit Free Press. pp. 1D, 3D – via Newspapers.com. open access
  10. ^ "Evy's Defensive Gamble Pays Off to Bottle Up Cox". The Des Moines Register. November 11, 1956. p. 2S – via Newspapers.com. open access
  11. ^ Bert McGrane (November 11, 1956). "Iowa Deflates Gophers, 7–0". The Des Moines Register. p. 1S – via Newspapers.com. open access
  12. ^ Bert McGrane (November 18, 1956). "Iowa to Rose Bowl, 6–0: Hawks Hobble Ohio, Earn at Least Tie for Big Ten Title". The Des Moines Register. p. 29 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  13. ^ Bill Bryson (November 25, 1956). "Iowa's Champs 48, Irish 8!". The Des Moines Register. p. 1S – via Newspapers.com. open access
  14. ^ Braven Dyer (January 2, 1957). "Potent Iowa Speeds to 35–19 Win Over Oregon State in Rose Bowl: Beavers Stunned by Hawks' Speed". Los Angeles Times. pp. IV–1, IV–4 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  15. ^ "Hawk Trio On All Big Ten". The Spencer Daily Reporter. November 30, 1956. p. 4.
  16. ^ "Mel Dillard on All-Big Ten Team; Iowa Puts Men in Four Positions". Alexandria (IN) Times-Tribune. November 30, 1956. p. 3 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  17. ^ "Sooners Win: Tennessee Second in 1956 Poll". The Ogden Standard-Examiner. p. 10A – via Newspapers.com. open access
  18. ^ "Standings". Deadwood Pioneer Times. December 4, 1956. p. 4 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  19. ^ "Hornung Surprised At Heisman Honor". Green Bay Press-Gazette. December 5, 1956. p. 25 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  20. ^ "1956 Heisman Trophy Voting". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  21. ^ "Big 10 Most Valuable to Ploen". Chicago Tribune. December 16, 1956. p. 2-2 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  22. ^ "Reference at www.pro-football-reference.com". Archived from the original on 2009-05-01. Retrieved 2018-03-28.