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BHGPODCAST EPISODE 14: In Which We Organize Things Into A List Without Being Asked To Do So

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Making a list, checking it twice, ruining Santa for you.

Slightly different approach to the podcast this week. First of all, of course, it's early; there's apparently a holiday coming up or something. Second, instead of having a guest, it was just Hawkeye State and me doing what we do best: enjoying each other's company sexually. We shared a few laughs, maybe a couple of tears, and most of all, learned a little bit about ourselves. It was good.

Okay, actually, we just decided to commemorate the end of the regular season by ranking the Iowa games on a hazy, shifting mix of factors like performance, excitement, and consequence. After a season like that, how can we not reminisce?

Listen below or on iTunes.

BHGPodcast 14 

Additionally, a full breakdown of the rankings from me, HS, Stoops Pow Surprise, and Ross Wow Burprise are after the break.

OPS


12. jNWU - Hell on Earth. None more need be said, lest we cry ourselves to sleep tonight. Again.
11. Arkansas State - Almost as excruciating as the #12 game, but through sheer boredom. Once that Epic Greenwood touchdown got called back and Iowa failed to convert with points, we knew it was going to be a long second half. Re-ignited the "Iowa doesn't deserve to be undefeated mantra."
10. UNI - An exciting game and a ludicrous finish. This was Iowa at its weakest--offensive linemen missing all over the place, Paki O'Meara as a starting tailback, and Greg Castillo getting scorched on the reg. The ending was almost too surreal to be exciting; it was the top play of the week, but it was so improbable that people just can't relate to it; after all, if a team's good enough to block two field goals in a row, why are they only leading a I-AA school by a point late in the 4th? Also, UNI's inability to make the I-AA playoffs was just a killer.
9. Minnesota - The quintessential ugly Iowa game, marred by missing offensive stars and featuring yet another stout performance by both defenses. Got Iowa to 10 wins. But unlike lots of games ahead of it, there was absolutely no excitement in this game, and all it did for clarification was to remind us that Ricky Stanzi's probably still got the starter spot on lock for the foreseeable future.
8. Ohio State - The only loss other than #12, but instead of being at #11 on account of god damn it Iowa lost, there's an argument to be made for putting it higher. Super-exciting, even though it left Iowa fans with a sour taste in their mouths for how the last two Iowa possessions went down. Very, very down. Still, it helped to legitimize the team, considering they were expected to get facefucked by the Buckeyes.
7. Indiana - What a weird game. Fun, and one of the few times we got to see the Iowa offense move the ball at will. We'd put it higher, but IU missed out on a bowl and we had to hear Iowa catch even more crap--this time for that tragic blown call in the end zone on the IU touchdown. We discuss precisely why that criticism sucks hard in the podcast, but fa real--it sucks. Still, fun game.
6. Michigan - The lustre wore off this game as the season went on--Michigan, you'll recall, wouldn't beat another I-A team all season long--but this game was fun, it was on national television, it had plenty of big plays, and Iowa was never really in danger of losing, despite the score. This is where we started to see "Ricky Stanzi As Big-Play QB" start to manifest itself.
5. Iowa State - Holy smokes, what a defensive performance. At the time, people chalked it up to a horrific mental breakdown of Austen Arnaud, but it sure seems now that his struggles weren't that much of a fluke. It was an extremely satisfying win in a town where those are awfully hard to come by for Ferentz and Iowa, and but for the fact that the game was D-U-N done in the middle of the third quarter, this might have even ranked higher.
4. Wisconsin - The fourth game in six where Iowa abused an opposing quarterback to the point that the game was within 10 points at the start of the 4th and still over for all intents and purposes. Wisconsin fans may throw the bullshit flag on account of Garrett Graham missing the second half with a concussion and John Clay's miserable post-injury performance (all while defying everything we know about medicine and science by being able to walk after that play).
3. Arizona - A game that looked better as the season went on, but what a fascinating contest: the advantage swung back and forth about five times before the Iowa defense clamped its jaws down on Matt Scott and the Arizona offense. We got to meet Adam Robinson as a legitimate tailback, and we got to see Adrian Clayborn run down a speed tailback in full stride from behind. In a straight line. Ordinarily, we'd chalk that up as Clayborn's play of the season. That designation didn't last long.
2. Michigan State - You could even say number one for this game, and we wouldn't put up a huge fight. It was, whether the SEC fans want to admit it, an SEC game: a defensive slugfest with casualties strewn about the field for 50 minutes, then a mad dash to the finish line. As fourth quarters go, there's few as entertaining in the Ferentz era, and the last drive made believers of us all, if only for a week or two. If anything's to pull it down, it's the consequence of losing three starters for multiple games, a fact that would eventually catch up to Iowa. Still, wow, what a game.
1. Penn State - But there could be only one, and it had to be the game that put Iowa squarely in the national attention. Even after PSU's one big play to open the game, the Nittany Lions were up by 5 going into the fourth quarter, but still fully dreading how the rest of the game played out. Then Adrian Clayborn happened, the lead happened, and the Daryll Clark Implosion happened. This game was the catalyst for all sorts of themes for the season, it was emblematic of everything we liked and hated about this team--right down to the nervousness and second-guessing of Ferentz as he lined up for a field goal with an 8-point lead and under 20 seconds on the clock--and it was as euphoric as we'd been after a win since, well, the last time we played Penn State.

HS


12. jNWU -- Ugh.  Might actually deserve higher billing because of the Stanzi injury, but it's just Northwestern, right?
11. A-State -- Cupcake where the final score looked much worse than it really was.  This really wasn't in doubt until the last 2 minutes.
10. Minnesota -- A game so ugly, it should be taken out back and shot.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), by the time it got here, nobody more than 50 miles from Iowa City cared.
9.  Michigan -- At the time (before UM turned into MSU and went all death-spiraly), an important test.  Now, an embarrassingly close game in prime time.
8.  Northern Iowa -- Let's admit the obvious: It was the second-most exciting game Iowa played this year.  Also, the bizarre two-FG-block ending made it into the MSM consciousness (it was the Sportscenter #1 play of the day on the opening weekend of the season) and set the stage for the "But Iowa needed two blocked field goals to beat Northern Iowa" meme that followed.  Don't underestimate that effect on the current polls and, in turn, the BCS standings.
7.  Indiana -- Because Iowa had entered the national consciousness by this point (it was the highest-rated 11:00 kickoff on ESPN all year), and because the officiating was so incredibly horrible and effectively kept Iowa in the game, and because the media is stupid, Indiana replaced UNI as the reason why Iowa had to be stopped.  Terry Bradshaw, of all people, put a dagger in this team the day after this game, based solely on the fact that the refs fucked up a clear touchdown that would have allowed Indiana to lose by 11 instead of 18.  Rage followed.
6.  Iowa State -- They're probably going to a bowl, but they're still Iowa State, and beatdowns are expected.  Nevertheless, it was a cathartic curbstomping of a rival on the road, it set off the Tyler Motherfuckin' Sash movement, and it was the only time all year when Iowa looked like a worldbeater against a clearly inferior opponent.
5.  Arizona -- Looks better now, but at the time Arizona was a middling Pac-10 opponent with a terrible quarterback and a halfback with good numbers against Northern Arizona and Central Michigan.  Set the stage for the Penn State game, though; without a win, we're probably not in prime time when Clayborn goes wild on Darryl Clark.
4.  Ohio State -- OK, yes, it was a loss.  But at the time, with the Northwestern game finishing the undefeated season and knocking out Stanzi, Iowa was staring in the face of a season-crushing blowout.  To walk into the Shoe with a first-time starter at quarterback, a true freshman at halfback, and a MASH unit on the line, and to then take Ohio State to overtime on national television after being behind by 14, was practically inconceivable. It proved more about this team than half of this season's wins.  Also, it was an incredible, epic game.
3.  Wisconsin -- Ran.
2.  Michigan State -- out of.
1.  Penn State -- Time.

[Ed. note--He talked about these games at great length in the podcast. Ha ha ha, I just said great length.]

StoopsMyAss

12. Arkansas State – weird and I try to act as though it did not happen.
11. Wisconsin – the most typical of Iowa’s wins.
10. Minnesota – a win that was expected but not this way.
9. Ohio State – a loss that was expected but not this way.
8. Michigan – national TV and we overcame. Kept the ball rolling.
7. Arizona – introduced the defense to America, and Iowa for that matter.
6. jNWU – end of NC run. Unexpected and sad.
5. Iowa State – needed this one for the psyche, and got it in spades.
4. Michigan State – sensational. Probably deserves to be rated more highly but the season is filled with crucial moments.
3. Indiana – most improbable game I have ever seen Iowa play.
2. Penn State – confirmed the potential of this team. Winning in front of 100K+ who were blood thirsty for revenge. Sweet.
1. UNI – the whole season might have turned on one play. Uh, sorry, two plays.

RossWB

12. jNWU -- From ecstasy to agony in about 15 minutes.  This went from looking like yet another cathartic romp over a hated rival (see below) to a season-deflating loss.  Sadly, Stanzi getting sandwiched between two purple assholes will be one of the lingering and defining moments of the season for me, if only because it will prompt so much "what if..." daydreaming. 
 
11. Arkansas State -- The game that firmly cemented the 2009 Iowa Hawkeyes as a team that was helpless to do anything but play to the level of their competition.  Great when playing Penn State or Ohio State... near-disastrous when playing Arkansas fucking State.  The stubborn insistence on trying to develop a running game was probably the biggest problem here -- Stanzi could have (and should have) chucked it deep on the hapless Red Wolf secondary all day.
 
10. UNI -- A win that actually seems worse now than it did twelve weeks ago, now that the the myth of UNI being an unstoppable I-AA powerhouse has been fatally punctured by now.  The two blocked field goals will be an unforgettable memory, but we're better off pretending that it happened against someone else, because it should never have happened against a team like UNI.  Sure, there are plenty of excuses to toss out -- Iowa was trying to find a running back while juggling a slew of missing pieces on offense (and a few on defense) and UNI was super-motivated to try and knock off the big-time program in the state -- but at the end of the day they're all lame rationalizations for the fact that we played like shit against an inferior opponent... and managed to get away with it.  In hindsight, it was an unsettling but eerily accurate harbinger of the season to come.  And, hey, those blocked field goals... good luck ever seeing that again in your lifetime.
 
9. Minnesota -- It pains me to bag on a game that featured a stellar performance by the defense (shutting out a hated rival and keeping the best damn rivalry trophy in sports = WIN), but let's also not forget that Minnesota's offense has, for the most part, been as lethal as a carton of yogurt this season.  They had no offensive identity, no even mildly consistent offensive playmakers with Decker injured, and a quarterback that badly regressed.  They stunk and we were far from the only defense to make them look foolish.  And that doesn't even address the issue of the offense, which was only slightly less rancid than the Gopher attack.  So through five full halves of work,Vandenberg has had three epic stinkbombs and two quite good halves.  That the two quite good halves came on the road, in Columbus, against Ohio State, in some of the most pressure-packed stakes imaginable is so improbable that I would chalk it up as sheer delusion if I hadn't witnessed it (and countless other "WTF that cannot possibly be real" moments this season).  Suffice to say, we should probably hold off on printing up the "VANDENBERG IS THE MANDENBERG" t-shirts for the time being -- unless we plan to put a picture of Two-Face on there as well.  (Hey, go big or go home in the world of intellectual property infringement.)

8. Michigan -- Like the UNI win, a close win that became more embarrassing as the season progressed and we got a better idea of how good (or, um, not good) Michigan truly was.  Their two-point margin of defeat in this game represented their smallest margin of defeat in any of their Big Ten losses this season, which is faintly humiliating. The Iowa defense also gave up 28 points (well, technically just 21, but just roll wit hit), the most it's given up in the last two-plus years.  The two things that wound up damaging Iowa's season the most (aside from injuries) -- a wildly incosnistent offense and an inability to really clamp down on a top runnig game -- both reared their ugly heads here.

7. Indiana --- For entertainment value, this game was hard to beat.  Between Sash's rigoddamndiculous pinball pick-six to Stanzi's apocalyptic third quarter and jaw-dropping fourth quarter, this was perhaps the craziest and most improbable Iowa win in Kinnick since the 2002 win over Purude.  Big, big plays were the order of the day and Iowa delivered.  Stanzi delivered maybe the worst and best quarter I've ever seen from an Iowa quarterback -- in one half, no less.

6. Arizona -- The only game all season I was unable to watch live, which might be one reason I find it difficult to have strong feelings about it.  It was a solid, workmanlike performance, which is notable only because there were so few performances like that by Iowa this season.  It would be nice to say that this was a win that got much better as the season progressed and the Wildcats kept winning, but that rings a little hollow when the quarterback that led them to so much success was mainly a bystander during the Iowa game. 

5. Wisconsin -- One of the more impressive in-game turnarounds of the season.  From 10-0 down, getting mauled on the ground by the Badger running game, to running off the last 20 points of the game and stifling the Badger rushing attack (thanks in part to a cringe-worthy sandwich tackle job on John Clay).  This was also perhaps the cleanest game Stanzi played all year -- no turnovers and some beautiful, accurate passes to Tony Moeaki and DJK to score touchdowns/keep drives running. 

4. Iowa State -- Deeply satisfying and significant for a few reasons: in hindsight, it was a clear indicator of this team's ability to significantly raise its level of play on the road, and was also a win that gained a bit more cache in retrospect when it became clear that this wasn't the usual putrid Iowa State outfit, but a halfway decent team.  Plus, on a personal level, not only was it a win in Ames, the site of considerable misery and angst in 2005 and 2007, but it was a Fry Era-level beatdown.  And it gave birth to the legend of Tyler "Motherfucking" Sash.

3. Ohio State -- The best loss by an Iowa team since, um... a really long time.  I was going to say Texas in 2006, but in terms of proving legitimacy and boosting national respect this loss did far more on those counts.  Aside from the Pryor meltdown in Purdue this year, no one played them as tight as Iowa did, and doing it in Columbus (a house of horrors for Iowa for at least two decades), and with a freshman backfield (including a quarterback making his first start)... absolutely remarkable.  And the fourth quarter of this game was stupid exciting.  That said, this will always be a deeply bittersweet game -- to be so close to the Rose Bowl and then to have it end the way it did... sigh.  Intellectually, I can understand and support Ferentz's end of game decision, but I'll never be able to totally erase the "what if" argument.  Coming so close to the Rose Bowl and coming up short is always going to lead to a strange concoction of pride, pain, and second-guessing.

2. Penn State --  Maybe Penn State wasn't as great as their ranking before this game suggested... but still.  A win over a top-five team, at night, in the rain, in front of a revenge-crazed "Whiteout" crowd is still pretty damn satisfying.  The defense was otherworldly after the first few Penn State drives and the way they caused Daryl Clark to meltdown in the second half was extraordinary.  And Clayborn's punt block touchdown will deservedly take its place in the annals great Hawkeye plays.  This game confirmed preseason hopes that this might actually wind up being a special season.

1. Michigan State -- I'm probably a bit based since I was here live, but even watching this later on TV, I thought this was a pretty amazing game.  Some people may want to diminish it since Sparty wound up pulling a "same ol' Sparty" routine down the stretch and going 6-6, but I think a more charitable interpretation would be that they put a ton into this game and never fully recovered from what happened.  Being there live, I had no doubt that the players and fans were absolutely amped to the gills for this game and the players certainly played like it - especially on defense, where they were flying around like tackle-crazed lunatics.  This game may have done more to damage Iowa's Big Ten/national title aspirations than the Northwestern game thanks to the body count it left in its wake.  Losing two of the most consistently effective pieces of our offense (Robinson and Richardson), our best punt returner by far (Sandeman), and the quarterback of the defense (Greenwood) was a hugely painful blow.  That said, this game was something else, full of brutally hard hits (on both sides), a pair of ridiculous goalline stands inside the 2-yard line, and a final three minutes or so that was completely batshit insane, what with a fucking hook-and-ladder and the immortal Stanzi-to-McNutt play.