It's taken a few days, but the numb and shock of losing to the Wildcats is finally beginning to dissipate. And though Iowa's play should have taught me never to look farther ahead than the next game (hell, the next play), I can't help but wonder "Where do we go from here?"
To say these past two games have been a little disheartening would be a bigger understatment than saying that Mark Mangino is "a little heavy." These were two games we absolutely, positively, should have won. I'm not saying that we necessarily outplayed NU or Pitt, or that we "deserved" to win, only that these past two games were ours (by hook or crook) and we lost them both. Before the season, I would have been ecstatic to be 4-1 after 5 games and could probably find a way to be ok with 3-2. But after the way we played early (admittedly against weak competition), and the way the last two games played out, I can't help but think that anything less than 5-0 is a disaster.
The most troubling aspect is that, despite it all, Iowa could still salvage the season but I don't see any evidence to give me hope that this will happen. I'm not looking for any kind of 2004 miracles where back-to-back ass-whooppings sparked a fire underneath the team - and there's no indication that this has happened to this team yet - I just want some reason for hope. I look at the remaining games and see possibility. Iowa "should" be able to beat Indiana, Purdue and Minnesota and if they could steal a victory from one of the other games, then we're 7-5. Unfortunately, the way we've played, NO GAME can be taken as a given in the W column and we could just as easily end up 4-8 (despite what I said above, I just can't imagine Iowa losing in the final game at Kinnick North).
So, in the end, we're back to my original question "Where do we go now?" Unfortunately, I just don't have an answer at all.