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The Takeaway: Northern Iowa

Sure, Iowa just beat UNI, 17-16. But how much do we really know? What was really important about Iowa winning? What does it all mean, Basil? The Takeaway has the answer.

Your pulse rate should be getting back to double digits sometime Tuesday. Suffice it to say, that's one of the most bizarre, unusual ends to a game that we've ever seen. It would have qualified as such even if UNI had gotten the second kick off cleanly, made or missed. Like, that would have been a much more compelling result, in our eyes. But regardless, that's the first time in D-I history that a team has blocked a field goal on consecutive snaps; that the plays ended a 1-point game might be so fantastically surreal that it's harder to contextualize it among anything else, be it football games or even life experiences. It's like seeing a UFO. Like... what the hell are you ever going to compare that to?

But it was a close win all the same, and that's a good thing; before the PSU win last year, Iowa had, what, nine straight losses in games decided by 3 points or fewer? So aside from the fact that it was a (damned fine) I-AA school, the fact that Iowa just won their second straight close game is a positive development. Or it just means they're reverting to the mean, whatever.

Just do it already: We got flashes of quite a bit out there yesterday. Keenan Davis looks athletic, Marvin McNutt's got some good hands, and the rest of the receiving corps are known quantities (and good, at that) and healthy. Yet at the same time, the offense sputtered. It's pretty obvious that the team needs a talented option at tailback, and though Robinson's the closest to that ideal, he's not good enough yet.

But just one play here or there qualifies as little more than a tease, and Iowa probably can't afford another raging case of blue balls and expect to keep up with ISU. There's got to be a payoff, and that means sustained drives getting into the end zone. They looked good at doing in in the second half after Pakiveli was shelved, but that ended up being barely enough.

Don't give me that "Ole" bullshit: This is what Norm Parker sees as he falls asleep after that game:


Okay, granted, that's if he falls asleep after taking several recreational drugs at once, but you get the picture.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the game was the poor tackling, especially from the linebacking position. We had considered A.J. Edds and Pat Angerer to contend for the title of heir apparent to the throne of RIdiculously Talented White Linebacker--previously held by Chad Greenway, of course--but their flailing, chasing performances were underwhelming, to say the least. Angerer was a little surerer in his tackling, but neither looked good in pass coverage. It's clearly not what we expected from the linebacking corps, and it appears to be a regression from 2008, even though the entre linebacking corps is back from last season. It doesn't make sense.

Bulls on Parade All-American lists: The consistency left something to be desired, but the defensive line showed the ability to wreak havoc on the UNI offensive line. Christian Ballard looks better at DT than we expected. We still feel like they're one or two bodies short of the 2001-2003 era of defensive lining.

The bottom line on the defense is this: they held UNI to 16 points. UNI has a relatively good offense. But Iowa's probably going to face--conservatively--5 or 6 better offenses over the course of the season. Since the offense hasn't yet demonstrated the ability to get involved in a shootout, this season could turn long and painful without the defense getting back to near-2008 levels.