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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.