Sure, Iowa just snatched another defeat from the jaws of victory, 16-13. But how much do we really know? What was really important about losing to Michigan State? What does it all mean, Basil? The Takeaway has the answer.
The fundamentals of this football team are strong. We're feeling especially ignoble today, so we'll be writing The Takeaway with quotes plucked from infamy and impending failure. But while John McCain is imploding worse than Iowa State against a ranked team, we're happy to bastardize his economy quote. Look, Iowa's not a bad team that's headed for the shitter, no matter what your hyper-reactionist friends were shrieking about the last three weeks. Shonn Greene is now 3rd in the nation in rushing yards, and he vastly outperformed Javon Ringer, who's one spot above Greene. Greene is a legitimate workhorse and will merit strong* consideration for First Team All-Big Ten at tailback, a possibility that seemed absolutely unfathomable for the Hawkeyes in the spring.
Further, the injuries and suspensions aren't piling up. At this point last season, Iowa was a broken shell of a team, missing seniors all over the place and relying on true freshmen way more than a BCS team ever should. This year, Iowa's deep on both sides of the ball, if not very experienced yet. That will come game by game, and it'll pay huge dividends over the next couple years as that massive freshmen class from 2007 matures.
We're getting better and better! The Zooker knows what I'm talking about. This Iowa team would probably throttle its 2006 and 2007 iterations. There's no rock bottom being hit here, unlike that horrifying 21-7 sleepwalk against Northwestern in '06 or the disturbing 31-22 loss to WMU. Iowa has been one score away from victory against three straight ranked opponents (if you want to be technical, only MSU is ranked in both polls; Northwestern is #22 in the ESPN poll, and Pitt is #24 in the AP).
Further, absolutely nobody has outphysicaled (new word) Iowa; these games have been lost by Iowa's playcalling and miscues. Ferentz and O'Keefe didn't knock the ball out of Stanzi's hands twice in the first half, and Christ help us all if they told him forcing that pass on 3rd and goal was a good idea. Stanzi's airmail tendencies from the ISU game have all but vanished, and he's completing over two-thirds of his passes. Sure, most of those are of the devastating TE-Three-Yard-Out variety and throwing only five TDs in 100 passes isn't great, but he's still already 4th in the Big Ten in passing efficiency. For a first-year starter who clearly has some mental progress to be made, that's a healthy start.
All great movements are popular movements. They are the volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotions, stirred into activity by the ruthless Goddess of Distress or by the torch of the spoken word cast into the midst of the people. Hey, why not end this one with Hitler? There are a few Fire Ferentz websites cropping up, none of which really merit a link (but I'll guess Google can point you in the right direction if you're so inclined), mainly because they're utterly unreadable. Not to put too specific a point on this comparison, but let's be honest: they're all fucking Nazis.
Now, you might be thinking, "Uh, didn't BHGP call for Ferentz's head?" We wanted him to resign. There's absolutely no ground for termination. It's seppuku vs. the death penalty (man, this last one's getting morbid). But knee-jerk mid-season "we just lost a game by 4 and SOMEONE'S GOING DOWN DAMN IT" reactions are worthless, especially because they result in precisely dick being done.
Look, Ferentz is the coach, O'Keefe is his coordinator, and Brett Greenwood is his disastrous safety. These are facts that we cannot change from the stands. Oh, sure, fans booed Christensen and then Stanzi was starting, but it's ridiculous to think Ferentz would still be starting JC if the fans were more supportive or something. Both the booing and the benching were effects of the same cause: poor play. That's all.
So now it's off to Bloomington to face a middling-to-poor Indiana team. If you thought the MSU matchup was a must-win game, just think about the hell that rains down if Iowa loses their fourth game of the year before they face PSU, Wisconsin, or Illinois. As it stands now, hopes of anything more than 6-6 are dim. Let's hope they're not snuffed out completely before the leaves even turn.
Photo credits: All courtesy of Dan Williamson/Iowa City Press-Citizen
*I used the "strong" tag for the word "strong." You catch that? You like that? Damn right you do.