What is Dispatches From Blogfrica? Pretty simple: I ask questions of an opposing team's blogger, they answer. A truly revolutionary idea, no? This week: Friend of the Pants from SBN's excellent Iowa State blog, GRR HATE WEEK.
1) Iowa is a 3.5 point favorite in this game, according to ye olde Vegas experts. That has to be the smallest line for an Iowa-Iowa State game in Kinnick in a decade. Are you surprised? Emboldened? What's the mood among ISU fans for this game? Are they wary or are they expecting to march into Kinnick and deliver a beatdown on the poor, beleagured Hawkeyes?
I'd say controlled optimism is the public face of the fanbase (Hate week jabs notwithstanding), but privately most of us think that ISU would be favored if the game wasn't at Kinnick. Rhoads has a bit of history (ed. note: one game?) with the GDGD (an acronym I suspect you'll soon learn to appreciate), and I think that will work to our advantage, as it does with the annual sodomization of Tuberville's Raiders. That said, Kinnick Stadium is still one of hardest places to play in the country when the crowd is really into it. If ISU can deflate the crowd early, I think we roll to a 10 point win. If not, well, it's anyone's game at that point. That said, in recent years the team who pulls out a 1-point squeaker against lesser competition in their first game seems to come back strong and win this matchup. (See: Iowa 2009, ISU 2011.)
2) Were you surprised that Steele Jantz earned the starting QB this fall over Jared "I ruined last year's national championship game" Barnett? Should Iowa fans expect anything different from their second date with Mr. Jantz? Will we get to second base with him this time?
Not really. We heard a lot of good things about Jantz during camp, and his potential has always been higher than Barnett's. Barnett is the perfect Six-Sigma quarterback; steady, with very little variance. He's either going to be mediocre or.... slightly above mediocre. Jantz, on the other hand, is the "Hold My Beer and Watch This" of QBs - At any given time it has the potential to be absolutely brilliant or absolutely terrible, and there's always a significant chance of injury involved.
Jantz also never fully recovered from the ankle injury he incurred against UConn last year. With his potential ceiling lowered, the switch was made to Barnett mid-season, and the rest is history. But make no mistake - our running backs and linebackers were more important in the victory than Barnett was.
3) Your punter earned Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors this week. Our placekicker earned Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors this week. What are the odds this game is decided by the kicking game? How fearful should Iowa fans be of Kirby Van Der Kamp's booming leg?
A large pink Puffball who inhales his enemies vs. a psychopathic killer from the Halloween franchise. Should make for a hell of a matchup. Oh wait...
Kirby is a badass and he has the ability to make sure Iowa doesn't have a short field to work with, and Arceo has been a pleasant surprise in his only game thus far. Still, any Cyclone fan that isn't terrified when the game comes down to kicking is a Cyclone who has managed to pickle the part of their brain responsible for remembering things.
4) Is there a possibility that Chanse Creekmur could catch the game-winning touchdown pass against Iowa this Saturday and nail the game-winning three-pointer against Iowa in December? Would this make him the single greatest Cyclone in recorded history?
Sadly, Chanse Creekmur lost an arm fighting alongside Mace Windu during the Clone Wars, and will be unable to catch any passes.
(Apparently I don't follow enough ISU recruiting because I had no idea who the hell this was. *Heads off to the Googles*)
Hmmm. If that unlikely set of circumstances occurred, (which is about as likely as erasing a 24-7 halftime lead to win at Kinnick) (ed. note: FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU), he'd have to go in the pantheon. Probably between Scotty Christopherson and John Neal.
5) Iowa fans are well-acquainted with guys like Steele Jantz, A.J. Klein, and Jake Knott. Who are some other Cyclones we should be aware of? Which units on this ISU team pose the biggest threats to Iowa?
Our phallic backfield trio of Johnson/White/Woody. I'm sure you all remember White running in the game-winner last year, (there's a pretty good picture out there of it) but Shontrelle Johnson provides an up-field explosiveness that pairs nicely with White and Woody's ability to wear down a defense.
6) Finally, prediction time -- who ya got?
ISU, 24-21. And for the first time in a decade, I'm not flat-out lying when I think Iowa State should win this game.