Who hates Monroe? We hates Monroe. ULM is 1-2 and getting paid $1.05 million to serve as a body-bag opponent for Iowa this week, but don't tell that to them -- or their fans.
"This is the best shot we’ve had at beating a BCS school at their place since I don’t remember when," writes Vandolay on the site. "Don’t forget our basketball team went up to Iowa a few years ago and won its tournament — even though we weren’t very good at all. Perhaps Iowa is our punching bag and they don’t know it."
As Morehouse points out, the Warhawks are just 1-36 against BCS teams in their history (although that one win was a doozy), so history is not on their side. But they're not a bad team. They hung with TCU for a half last week, and they're sure to give Iowa some odd looks on offense (and defense). As the Football Study Hall article I linked to earlier noted, they're well-suited to spring an upset -- or at the very least make for a heartache-inducing game for Iowa fans.
And, incidentally, the jab from that ULM fan about their hoopyball win still stings. The Lickliter Era was marked by any number of pratfalls, but failing to win the home-court tournament stocked with (supposed) patsies was one of the lowest (and, in hindsight, one hell of an indicator that the years ahead were going to be a hellacious goddamn mess). Fran, by the way, restored some of the honor to the Iowa cagers last year by leading them in a thumping win over the Warhawks. Yet another reason we heart Fran.
Schedulin' for success. We're almost done with the 2011 non-conference slate and if you weren't too impressed with the likes of Pitt, Iowa State, and UL Monroe, well, as Doc reminds us, things are going to get even more dull in the years to come:
2012: Northern Illinois (at Soldier Field), Iowa State, UNI, Central Michigan
2013: Northern Illinois, Missouri State, at Iowa State, Western Michigan
2014: UNI, Ball State, Iowa State, at Pitt
2015: Illinois State, at Iowa State, Pitt, North Texas
2016: North Dakota State, Iowa State, Central Michigan, TBA
2017: North Texas, at Iowa State, TBA, TBA
Hope you like MACrifices and FCS teams. Hopefully Iowa adds a second BCS opponent in 2016 and 2017, but it's by no means guaranteed: 2012 and 2013 both have just one BCS opponent (Iowa State) on the slate. Blah.
The little things. There have been many plays from Iowa's 31-27 comeback win over Pitt on Saturday that have been celebrated -- Marvin McNutt's stunning one-handed grab, the three touchdown pasess Vandenberg threw during the comeback, James Morris' heady play to stuff Ray Graham short of the end zone in the fourth quarter and hold Pitt to a field goal, Micah Hyde's game-clinching interception -- but two of the less-talked about (but still vital) plays happened on kickoff coverage on Iowa's last two kickoffs. The first was Joe Audlehelm's tackle when Iowa was still in the midst of the comeback. The second was Tom Donatell's tackle on Iowa's final kickoff after taking the lead, which pinned Pitt deep in their own territory.
Kickoff coverage has been a virtual dumpster fire for the better part of the last two years and every Iowa fan was likely holding their breath on those kickoffs, terrified that whatever momentum Iowa had built up via the suddenly-potent offense would be squandered by lousy kickoff coverage gifting Pitt great field position. That didn't happen and two of the biggest reasons were Audlehelm and Donatell, a pair of walk-ons in no danger of sniffing the two-deeps anytime soon (although Donatell might if Iowa continues to bleed linebackers). Huzzah for walk-ons -- now let's hope they can keep making plays on kick coverage all season long.
The gods must be
crazy angry. It isn't just running backs and linebackers that vengeful Iowa-hating deities like to strike down -- it's women's basketball players, too. F Jade Rogers will miss the entire season after having another knee surgery, while G Megan Considine will also miss the entire season after suffering an Achilles injury. Neither Rogers nor Considine were projected starters (Iowa actually returns all of their starters except all-everything Kachine Alexander), but their injurieswill further sap Iowa's depth. Knock on wood that these angry gods find some other program to bedevil for a while.
* In case you were curious, Gary Dolphin's treatment for prostate cancer is going A-OK so far.
* Actual carries for Damon Bullock at RB this week? Sounds that way. (Ferentz also admitted that while the depth chart says Jason White is RB2, Damon Bullock is the actual RB2, which is your weekly reminder that the depth charts are frequently garbage.)
* Maybe Derby should be starting for Iowa -- no, the other one.
* Iowa comes in 2nd on the W.I.N. Magainze's first Tournament Power Index rankings of the year, mainly because top-ranked Penn State is favored to have four NCAA finalists.