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THE TAKEAWAY: MINNESOTA

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Sure, Iowa just got mashed at Minnesota, 51-14. But how much do we really know? What was really important about losing to the Gophers? What does it all mean, Basil? The Takeaway has the answer.

Adam Bettcher

I don't have a lot to say after that one. It's pretty obvious that there isn't much of a way to logically square Iowa's last two games without accepting that college football is a wildly unpredictable and contradictory game. Coaches work themselves far past the edge of sanity trying to stave off the disastrous games and raise their programs' baseline of quality as high as they can, but the bad days come for everyone.

It's a testament to Kirk Ferentz, then, that Iowa has handed out about as many of these bad days as it's taken—name a Big Ten opponent that's been around for more than a year, and you can find a righteous butt-kicking Ferentz has administered, often in an otherwise decent, bowl-worthy year for that team. Maybe "testament" isn't the right word. I don't know. Certainly it's a countervailing force as the seesaw dips back toward "FIRE EVERYBODY."

At the same time, I don't think it's rash or reactionary to point out that Ferentz got (essentially) a lifetime contract after winning a BCS bowl, then promptly vanished from the Top 25, an absence that's approaching four years and shows no sign of abating. So unless some major turnaround is coming (and that's possible! Remember, college football doesn't have to make sense!) next year there'll be nobody on the Iowa roster who's been part of a Top 25 program during his Hawkeye career. Perhaps Brian Ferentz can tell them stories. Stories of the before time. The long long ago.

Jerry Kill's one hell of a coach. I was worried he wouldn't stick around long in the Big Ten, out of some combination of health* and a poorly-timed bad season or what have you, but he's the real deal, and Minnesota's showing it on the field. The Gophers are now 7-2 (4-1), pushing Kill's overall record at Minnesota about .500 for the first time, and Kill's Big Ten record of 12-17 is just two games behind Ferentz's mark at Iowa in that same time span. Remember, Iowa was 20 months removed from an Orange Bowl victory when the 2011 season started, and Minnesota had just suffered a Tim Brewster regime.

*I'm aware epilepsy isn't on the level of, say, diabetes or cancer or heart disease, but it did diminish Kill's level of involvement with his program for several weeks in 2013, and that's generally inadvisable for head football coaches.

I do still think Minnesota's bumping up against a ceiling in terms of where the Kill offense can get it; the Gophers face Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin to finish out the year, so 7-5 (4-4) is still the most likely outcome here. But for a program that was at the utter depths, "the worst we can do is 7-5" is one hell of a step up. And for Iowa, it's especially bad news because one of the few "should win" games has effectively turned into a coin flip.

Past all that, I don't know what to take away from that game about individual players. Passing to Tevaun Smith remains a very good idea. Jake Rudock was an absolute mess, but if he were that kind of mess every week he wouldn't be starting; we've seen a whole lot better from him, and Ferentz—well, we know how Ferentz will treat this game. He's probably right, too.

Quentin Alston had a rough day. John Lowdermilk did too. Even Desmond King got taken down a few notches—hell, he practically fell off the ladder. Some of that was plainly great play from Minnesota's skill position players, some you can just chalk up to an off week, and the rest was a stark reminder to the Iowa defense that even in the Big Ten, one week of lackluster effort can get you run right off the field. Even the duo of Louis Trinca-Pasat and Carl Davis struggled on Saturday. Defensive breakdowns are a group effort (just as the defensive dominations are), but when the biggest playmakers on that side of the ball can't get anything done, it's all over but the shoutin'.

So here's my question: how did you react to Saturday's loss? Did you rage or check out? Is firing Kirk Ferentz the first or last thing on your mind? Does it matter to you that Iowa basketball is about to start? I'd really like to know. Let us know in the comments where you are in dealing with a loss like this. Because man... that was bad.