Iowa vs. Oklahoma State, Wrestling, And The Streak

With a win tonight over Indiana, Iowa will extend their unbeatean streak in dual meets to 84, tying the all-time record set by Oklahoma State (1959-1966). A win against Indiana is to be expected -- they have only one wrestler ranked in InterMat's top 20 at any weight (Matt Powless, #4 at 197) and haven't beaten Iowa since 1968 -- which would set up one huge dual meet with Oklahoma State on Saturday night. A win there would push the streak to 85 in a row, setting a new all-time record. It would also give Iowa 900 all-time dual meet wins, making them just the fourth program to do so (the others are Oklahoma State, Iowa State, and Oregon State).

It's fitting that Oklahoma State is the program standing in the way of Iowa's shot at making history: no two programs in college wrestling are more intertwined than these two. They have the most national championships in the history of the sport (OSU has 34, Iowa has 23). As Hlas notes, Iowa's current streak began after a loss to Oklahoma State, while Oklahoma's all-time record streak began with a win over Iowa. Iowa's winning streak ended last year against -- who else? -- Oklahoma State in a 15-15 tie. Oklahoma State is one of seven programs Iowa doesn't have a winning record against, all-time: 18-25-1. (As for the others, Iowa is 0-1-1 against Kansas State, 0-1 against the New York Athletic Club, 0-0-1 against Ohio, 0-1 against Toledo, 3-3 against Cornell College, and 16-17-1 against Oklahoma.) Stylistically, they couldn't be much more different: Iowa favors aggressive attacks, pushing the pace, and crowding the center of the mat, while Oklahoma State prefers counterattacks, a languid pace, and hanging around the edges of the mat. Oh, and stalling. Lots and lots of stalling. (And this is speaking very broadly about the programs, not necessarily individual wrestlers; some Iowa guys wrestle more like Oklahoma State guys and some Oklahoma State guys wrestle more like Iowa guys.) They are the yang to our yin, the black to our white, the evil to our good. So of course a shot at history would have to be decided by one more go-round with them.

The streak itself occupies an odd place in the hierarchy of Iowa wrestling accomplishments. It began, as these things always do, by accident; there was certainly no intent on the part of Brands or any of the wrestlers involved to begin a dual meet winning (or unbeaten) streak that would topple Oklahoma State from the top of the record books. The goal was simply to win the next meet, and then the next meet, and the meet after that, and so forth. And the wins just kept piling up, from 2008 to 2009 to 2010 to 2011 and now to 2012. In and of itself, the streak doesn't mean as much as another national title, or possibly even as much as another Big Ten title. It was nice that a rebuilding Iowa team was able to keep the streak alive last year and give this year's team a chance at history, but it didn't erase the disappointment that stemmed from not winning a Big Ten or NCAA title. Even now, on the cusp of history, if you could guarantee me an Iowa national title in March in exchange for an Iowa loss to Oklahoma State tomorrow night, I'd take it. National titles are the currency that matters when measuring greatness, not winning streaks or unbeaten streaks.

That said... the unbeaten streak is an opportunity to add a unique bit of immortality to Iowa wrestling's already storied history. This team (and the four teams that came before them and built the streak to this point) can do something that no other team in wrestling history -- no Iowa team, no Oklahoma State team, no one -- has ever done before. Tom Brands has a long way to go to catch Dan Gable in terms of coaching achievements (and he may never truly equal him, since the notion of anyone ever winning nine national titles in a row seems utterly delusional), but a win or tie tomorrow night (and tonight, of course) will give him one of the only accomplishments that Dan Gable never accrued in his epic career. That's gotta be worth something, right?

COVERAGE
Iowa at Indiana, 6pm CT, Friday, January 6
Okie State at Iowa, 7pm CT, Saturday, January 7
RADIO: 800 KXIC, Hawkeye All-Access (online; $$$)
TV: none for Indiana; video.BTN.com/Hawkeye All-Access (online; $$$) and IPTV (free) for Okie State

I'm not going to bother previewing Iowa-Indiana for a few reasons: one, it's not clear who Iowa's going to send out in that one since it sounds like there will be some guys rested in preparation for Oklahoma State on Saturday and two, it's not a meet that should be in much doubt. Iowa should roll.

#2 IOWA vs. #2 OKLAHOMA STATE (all rankings from InterMat)

125: #2 Matt McDonough (JR, 15-1) vs. #9 Jon Morrison (SO, 11-2)
McD started looking like the McD of old at Midlands last week and they need that form to continue here as well. He beat Morrison via decision last year, but I'm going to roll the dice and say he can push that to a major decision here.
McD MAJ DEC Morrison (Iowa 4-0)

133: #4 Tony Ramos (SO, 15-1) vs. #1 Jordan Oliver (SR, 10-0)
And now Ramos finally gets a crack at Oliver. Brands opted for Clark against Oliver in last year's dual and they never met at NCAAs, so this will be Ramos' first shot at Oliver. On paper, it looks like a bad matchup for Ramos: he struggles with guys who are long and strong and, well, that's Oliver. Tony's best bet might be to try and challenge Oliver's gas tank: his conditioning has been an issue in the past and it might be even moreso this year after dealing with some injuries earlier in the season. There's one thing Tony will need to avoid, though: getting pinned. So far this season all ten of Oliver's wins have been by pinfall -- only one of his matches has even ventured past the first period. This is going to be a tall order for Tony... but I think he holds it to a decision.
Oliver DEC Ramos (Iowa 4-3)

141: #3 Montell Marion (SR, 14-1) vs. #9 Josh Kindig (SO, 8-3)
Hopefully Marion has been able to get his head right in the ten days since Midlands. He's still saying the same things about dominating and wrestling with something to prove; hopefully his actions on the mat finally start to bear that out. I think he wins a decision here.
Marion DEC Kindig (Iowa 7-3)

149: #11 Michael Kelly (RS FR, 11-3) or UN Mark Ballweg (JR, 8-3) vs. #2 Jamal Parks (SR, 15-0)
I will be totally stunned if anyone but Kelly wrestles for Iowa here. He had a solid showing at Midlands, but Park will be a very tough test for him here. I don't think he's quite ready to beat Parks yet -- but he holds it to a decision.
Parks DEC Kelly (Iowa 7-6)

157: UN Nick Moore (RS FR, 9-3) vs. #15 Albert White (SR, 16-3)
Per Brands, there might be a very remote chance of Derek St. John wrestling here, but the odds are against it; bet on Nick Moore filling this spot again this weekend. Moore did fairly well at Midlands last week (aside from getting pinned twice) and I think that good mojo carries over to a strong showing here -- and an upset of White.
Moore DEC White (Iowa 10-6)

165: #10 Mike Evans (RS FR, 14-2) vs. UN Dallas Bailey (SO, 8-6)
This is one of the rare matches in this dual where Iowa appears to have a clear advantage, so it's vital that Evans exploit it. I think he will.
Evans MAJ DEC Bailey (Iowa 13-6)

174: #9 Ethen Lofthouse (SO, 8-2) vs. #3 Chris Perry (SO, 11-0)
Perry's ranked #3, but that's for his accomplishments this season at 184; this will be one of his first matches this year down at 174. There are a lot of question marks about this match: how will Perry handle the cut? Will Good Ethen (the one that dominated Blanton at CHA a month ago) show up? I'm going to say yes.
Lofthouse DEC Perry (Iowa 16-6)

184: UN Jeremy Fahler (RS FR, 7-4) or UN Vinnie Wagner (SR, 4-4) vs. UN Chris McNeil (SR, 10-4)
If Ramos-Oliver is the crown jewel of the dual, this is... well, whatever the exact opposite of crown jewel is. It's the only match likely to feature two unranked wrestlers -- and yet it might be decisive in the meet's outcome. I'll go with Iowa since they're at home.
Fahler/Wagner DEC McNeil (Iowa 19-6)

197: #15 Grant Gambrall (JR, 6-2) or UN Tomas Lira (SO, 8-5) vs. #9 Cayle Byers (SR, 12-3) or UN Blake Rosholt (SO, 12-1)
If Gambrall goes, Iowa can hold this to a decision loss. If Lira goes, I think Okie State gets bonus points. I don't have enough faith in Gambrall's offense right now to pick a win for him.
Byers/Rosholt DEC Gambrall/Lira (Iowa 19-9)

HWT: #7 Bobby Telford (RS FR, 14-1) vs. #2 Alan Gelogaev (SR, 15-1)
Bobby is good -- the Mad Russian is better. Russkie by decision.
Gelogaev DEC Telford (Iowa 19-12)

So, 19-12 Iowa, eh? I guess you spell homer "R-o-s-s-W-B." The truth is there are a lot of close, coin-flip matches in this dual. Add in the fact that his dual has a history of upsets and unexpected results and that the Iowa crowd should be packed and whipped into a frenzy and I think that might sway a few of those toss-up matches Iowa's way. But if that doesn't happen, well, I won't exactly be stunned.

THE HISTORY OF THE STREAK

2007-2008
1) Iowa 32, Cornell 3 (1/12/08)
2) Iowa 27, Missouri 9 (1/12/08)
3) Iowa 23, Michigan 13 (1/13/08)
4) Iowa 24, Nebraska 6 (1/13/08)
5) Iowa 24, Ohio State 10 (1/18/08)
6) Iowa 27, Penn State 13 (1/20/08)
7) Iowa 22, Northwestern 13 (1/27/08)

An early challenge to the streak; Iowa and Northwestern were tied 13-13 after splitting the first eight matches, but Iowa prevailed thanks to a 3-1 victory from Jay Borschel and a meet-clinching pin (1:58) from Phil Keddy.

8) Iowa 20, Minnesota 13 (2/1/08)

Another early challenge to the streak; Minnesota cut the lead to 11-10 after six matches, but Iowa took three of the remaining four matches in the meet, including a Phil Keddy upset at 184 to get the 20-13 win.

9) Iowa 22, Wisconsin 20 (2/3/08)

A close final margin, but the meet itself wasn't quite as threatening as that score would indicate: Iowa led 22-11 after the first eight matches, but Wisconsin got a pin (0:41) over Chad Beatty and an upset win at HWT to make it look close.

10) Iowa 36, Arizona State 3 (2/8/08)
11) Iowa 30, Boise State 9 (2/10/08)
12) Iowa 28, Indiana 7 (2/15/08)
13) Iowa 20, Michigan 16 (2/17/08)

The streak very nearly ended here before it truly got going. Michigan won four straight from 157-184 and led 16-12 after eight matches. Without a Hawkeye win at 197, Iowa would lose the meet. Enter: Chad Beatty, who got a takedown as time expired to beat Anthony Biondo, 2-1; a month earlier, Biondo had beaten Beatty 8-0. Matt Fields tacked on a tech fall win at HWT to secure the win.

14) Iowa 21, Illinois 12 (2/24/08)

Illinois made things interesting by cutting the team score to 11-9 after six matches, but Iowa won three of the remaining four matches (including a major decision from JayBo at 174) to ice the win and wrap up an 8-0 season in Big Ten competition.

2008-2009
15) Iowa 52, Iowa Central 0 (11/21/08)
16) Iowa 51, Coe 0 (11/21/08)
17) Iowa 45, Minnesota State-Mankato 3 (11/21/08)
18) Iowa 41, Arizona State 0 (11/21/08)
19) Iowa 48, Binghamton 0 (11/29/08)
20) Iowa 34, Maryland 6 (11/29/08)
21) Iowa 27, Central Michigan 6 (11/29/08)
22) Iowa 39, Bloomsburg 3 (11/29/08)
23) Iowa 20, Iowa State 15 (12/6/08)

Iowa and Iowa State set a national record for dual meet attendance (15,955) in a battle of the top two teams in the nation. Iowa led just 11-8 at intermission, but they swept 165, 174, and 184 to make it 20-8 and effectively wrap up the meet.

24) Iowa 30, UNI 12 (12/11/08)
25) Iowa 38, Wyoming 3 (1/10/09)
26) Iowa 27, Minnesota 7 (1/10/09)
27) Iowa 22, Nebraska 11 (1/11/09)
28) Iowa 23, Cornell 13 (1/11/09)

Cornell led 14-8 after winning four of the first six matches, but Iowa's upper weights came through in a big way, winning the final four matches of the meet and capping things off with a pin (1:46) from Dan Erekson at HWT.

29) Iowa 20, Oklahoma State 13 (1/18/09)

Iowa win six of the first eight matches to effectively lock up the meet, but several of the wins were tight: Dan Dennis won just 3-2 at 133, Ryan Morningstar won 3-1 at 165, and Jay Borschel had to fight off a last-second takedown to win 3-2 at 174. But the meet was most important for allowing Iowa to avenge the loss from a year ago -- and end Oklahoma State's nine-meet winning streak over the Hawkeyes. This was a monkey that Iowa badly needed to get off their backs -- and they finally did it here.

30) Iowa 24, Wisconsin 12 (1/23/09)
31) Iowa 32, Illinois 4 (1/25/09)
32) Iowa 40, Bucknell 3 (1/30/09)
33) Iowa 22, Michigan State 15 (2/6/09)

Another win that looks a little closer than it truly was: Iowa jumped out to a 16-0 lead after the first four matches and Michigan State benefited from an injury default to Dan Erekson in the heavyweight match to grab six free points.

34) Iowa 31, Penn State 6 (2/8/09)
35) Iowa 38, Purdue 0 (2/13/09)
36) Iowa 25, Minnesota 9 (2/15/09)
37) Iowa 24, Indiana 12 (2/20/09)
38) Iowa 34, Northwestern 13 (2/22/09)

2009-2010
39) Iowa 39, Coe 3 (11/20/09)
40) Iowa 57, Cornell College 0 (11/20/09)
41) Iowa 52, Iowa Lakes 0 (11/20/09)
42) Iowa 47, North Carolina-Pembroke 0 (11/20/09)
43) Iowa 51, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville 0 (11/20/09)
44) Iowa 29, Bucknell 7 (11/27/09)
45) Iowa 33, Rutgers 9 (11/27/09)
46) Iowa 18, Iowa State 16 (12/6/09)

Another Iowa-Iowa State, another 1-2 match, another meet that went down to the wire. Six of the ten matches were decided by two points or less and three went to sudden victory. Iowa built up a 15-3 heading into intermission, but Iowa State took four of the remaining five matches to cut Iowa's margin of victory down to just two points. Unfortunately for them, only one of those four wins was of the bonus point variety (Jake Varner's 12-4 major decision win over Chad Beatty at 197). Brent Metcalf's pin at 149 proved vital; he was headed to a major decision win prior to getting the pin; if he'd only been able to get a major decision, Iowa and Iowa State would have tied.

47) Iowa 48, UNI 3 (12/10/09)
48) Iowa 33, Nebraska 3 (1/9/10)
49) Iowa 20, Boise State 12 (1/9/10)

Iowa led 11-6 after five matches and won three of the remaining five matches to get the 20-12 win. Three matches went to overtime, though.

50) Iowa 28, Minnesota 12 (1/10/10)
51) Iowa 19, Iowa State 12 (1/10/10)

The rematch to their 18-16 thriller wasn't quite as close -- Iowa won six of the first seven matches to open up a 19-3 lead -- although several matches were again close: two matches went to sudden victory and four were decided by two points or less.

52) Iowa 19, Oklahoma State 16 (1/16/10)

A predictably tight match between two very evenly matched teams; no team won more than two matches in a row during the dual, although Iowa never trailed in the meet after Matt McDonough kicked things off with a 13-4 major decision win. Five of the ten matches were decided by two points or less, with four of them going Oklahoma State's way. (Iowa got bonus points in three of their five wins, actually, and could have had a really lopsided final score if they had won a few more of those close matches.)

53) Iowa 36, Michigan 0 (1/22/10)
54) Iowa 41, Purdue 6 (1/24/10)
55) Iowa 29, Penn State 6 (1/29/10)
56) Iowa 37, Michigan State 0 (1/31/10)
57) Iowa 38, Utah Valley 0 (2/6/10)
58) Iowa 49, Northwestern 0 (2/12/10)
59) Iowa 28, Minnesota 9 (2/14/10)
60) Iowa 32, Ohio State 3 (2/19/10)
61) Iowa 31, Wisconsin 6 (2/21/10)

2010-2011
62) Iowa 45, Iowa Central CC 0 (11/19/10)
63) Iowa 44, Coe 0 (11/19/10)
64) Iowa 47, Chattanooga 0 (11/26/10)
65) Iowa 43, Cornell College 0 (11/26/10)
66) Iowa 22, Iowa State 13 (12/3/10)

Iowa State opened up a 3-0 lead in the meet thanks to starting at 197, but aside from that little bit of gamesmanship, they didn't have much to offer: Iowa won the next four matches to take a commanding 14-3 lead in the meet. Four of the matches were decided by two points (two wins each by Iowa and Iowa State), though, so the meet could have tilted in a different direction with a few changes.

67) Iowa 29, Michigan State 10 (12/4/10)
68) Iowa 39, UNI 0 (12/9/10)
69) Iowa 49, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville 0 (1/7/11)
70) Iowa 15, Oklahoma State 15 (1/16/11)

This, of course, was the meet that ended the winning streak in its tracks. A rare meet with no bonus points for either team, Iowa and Oklahoma State each won five matches apiece and essentially traded wins throughout the dual; the only time either team won two matches in a row was Okie State's wins at 184 and 197. Tyler Clark held his loss to Jordan Oliver to an 11-4 decision and Blake Rasing got a takedown in sudden victory to grab a tie out of the jaws of defeat for Iowa. Five matches were decided by two points or less, including the last four matches of the meet.

71) Iowa 33, Ohio State 3 (1/22/11)
72) Iowa 31, Northwestern 9 (1/28/11)
73) Iowa 22, Penn State 13 (1/30/11)

Several people (myself included) expected the streak to end against top-ranked Penn State, but Iowa charged out to a 10-0 lead in the meet behind a pin from Matt McDonough, a big upset win from Tony Ramos (over Andrew Long) and a slight upset win over Montell Marion (over Andrew Alton). Mark Ballweg (at 149) and Ethen Lofthouse (at 174) each kept their losses to 10-3 decisions, denying Penn State bonus points. A surprisingly easy Grant Gambrall win (over future Big Ten/NCAA champion Quentin Wright) and a Luke Lofthouse major decision later and Iowa had another win in the bag.

74) Iowa 35, Indiana 6 (2/4/11)
75) Iowa 37, Purdue 3 (2/11/11)
76) Iowa 30, Michigan 7 (2/13/11)
77) Iowa 19, Minnesota 12 (2/20/11)

Minnesota was another team who figured to potentially end the streak last year, but Iowa again proved the doubters wrong. Iowa won four of the first five matches to take a 13-3 lead into intermission, then lost three in a row to make things 13-12. But just when momentum was beginning to tip in Minnesota's favor, Luke Lofthouse reversed the trend and picked up an upset win over Sonny Yohn to give Iowa some breathing room. A Blake Rasing win at HWT was just icing on the cake. It was a very tightly wrestled meet, though: six of ten matches were decided by two points or less.

2011-2012
78) Iowa 47, Baker 3 (11/25/11)
79) Iowa 42, Cornell College 0 (11/25/11)
80) Iowa 37, Iowa Central CC 6 (11/25/11)
81) Iowa 20, Illinois 13 (12/2/11)

Our most recent close call came earlier this season, after Matt McDonough's shocking loss to Jesse Delgado in sudden victory gave Illinois a 13-12 lead with two matches remaining. Tony Ramos saved the day with an impressive 13-5 major decision win over long-time nemesis B.J. Futrell, though, and Montell Marion iced the victory with an 11-2 major decision win of his own in the night's final match.

82) Iowa 27, Iowa State 9 (12/4/11)
83) Iowa 38, UNI 4 (12/8/11)

The Streak, by the numbers:

* During the streak, Iowa won three National Duals titles, three NCAA titles, and three Big Ten titles.

* Iowa has outscored teams 2656-552 during the streak.

* Iowa has had twenty shutouts during the streak, including two separate streaks of four shutouts in a row (in 2009 and again in 2010; the Iowa City Duals were prominently involved in both cases).

* Iowa's largest margin of victory during the streak was a 57-0 win over Cornell College in at the Iowa City Duals in 2009. For the record, 60-0 (ten pins or forfeits/defaults) is the best possible team score you can achieve. Iowa's largest margin of victory against actual legitimate competition (sorry, Other Cornell) was a 49-0 win over just Northwestern in 2010. That was fun.

* Not counting the 15-15 tie that transformed the winning streak into an unbeaten streak (since a margin of zero is obviously the closest scoring margin possible), Iowa's closest margin of victory during the streak were a pair of two-point wins, 22-20 over Wisconsin in 2008 and 18-16 over Iowa State in 2009.

* Minnesota has been Iowa's most frequent victim during the streak; Iowa's gone 6-0 against the rodents in that span, including four regular dual meet wins and two dual meet wins at the National Duals tournament.

* In fact, Iowa has gone 33-0 against Big Ten teams during the streak.

* As best as I can tell, Brent Metcalf is the only Iowa wrestler during the streak who wrestled a significant number of matches against quality opponents (i.e., not guys who just got on the mat during the Iowa City Duals) and never lost. None of his three career losses happened at a dual meet. Matt McDonough had also been undefeated in dual meets until his loss to Jesse Delgado (Illinois) earlier this season

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