The Walking Wounded. Good news: Iowa's alone in first place in the Big Ten West. Bad news: The Hawkeyes have paid a dear price for those two wins. There's a distinct possibility that Iowa enters its most important game of the season-to-date without its starting left tackle, right tackle, and right guard, top wide receiver, and all-conference defensive end (more on him next), with the Opening Day starting halfback and starting tight end also fighting injuries.
The offensive line injuries are the most problematic, as there simply aren't enough qualified bodies to cover the open holes. Cole Croston has performed ably in Boone Myers' absence at left tackle, and could move to right tackle should Myers come back and Ike Boettger remain unavailable. But true freshman James Daniels, who has played far beyond his age at guard this year, struggled mightily when forced to right tackle Saturday. It wasn't on him.
Kirk Ferentz on James Daniels' practice time to prepare for right tackle: "Not enough, quite frankly. It's a tough deal." #Hawkeyes— Danny Lawhon (@DannyLawhon) October 10, 2015
Daniels improved later in the game, when Iowa basically stopped throwing the ball and he could focus on straight-ahead run blocking, but the Iowa passing game is going to implode if the offensive line can't stop an edge rusher. It's a gigantic problem.
The rest aren't quite so bad. For its lack of tackles, Iowa has a glut of guards that would only be support should Jordan Walsh or one of the tackles make it back (allowing Daniels to fill in). Iowa's passing game has struggled in the last two weeks with Tevaun Smith out, but freshman Jerminic Smith played extremely well in his absence. George Kittle is emerging as an alternative to Jake Duzey. And, of course, there's Jordan Canzeri.
So You're Telling Me There's a Chance. And then there's defensive end, and Drew Ott's injury. Initial reports indicated Ott had torn his ACL and would miss the rest of the season. Fans had 24 hours to absorb the news and shut the door on Ott's return before Kirk Ferentz showed up to reopen it, if just a crack:
"Drew Ott, obviously we're not very optimistic. We'll know more when the doctors have a chance to examine him and get an MRI on Monday, but the outlook's not good there."
That doesn't sound like much of a chance on paper, but Morehouse takes the undecided nature of it as a sign that Ott's injury might not be as bad as reported. Kirk is notoriously cagey about injuries, so this could well be gamesmanship; if you hear more equivocation on Tuesday, it's that. There's no chance he plays against Northwestern, though.
Beer Banned. I was on The Champaign Room's podcast this week and was asked about the infamous Iowa Beer Band, not knowing until the next morning that the Beer Band had been (quite literally) disbanded.
A decades-old Iowa City tradition known as the "beer band" — a group of University of Iowa student, alumni, and community musicians who bar hop downtown while trumpeting various fight songs on the eve of Hawkeye home football games — is coming to an end, at least temporarily.
The group of between 60 and 100 people, depending on the night and the weather, has crossed the line of late in the lyrics it sings, according to UI senior Jack Frank, 23, manager of the UI marching band. Instead of traditional Iowa fight songs, the beer band has been singing vulgar, sexually explicit, violent, and degrading lyrics to the tunes of other school fight songs, Frank said.
If what is later described in that post is true, a suspension is probably in order. Rape jokes aren't cool, guys. But the bigger questions is where the University and the marching band are deriving the authority to suspend an unaffiliated group of students from playing music. If the beer band went out with a drum set and guitars and said something offensive, could the University try to suspend that band? What if the beer band was making jokes about the administration?
Iowa commit Noah Fant showed up on Nebraska's sideline for the Huskers' fourth loss of the season Saturday.
Omaha South's Noah Fant in the house in #Huskers gear The #Iowa commit is "taking a look" at NU according to brother pic.twitter.com/kFPIxRUl97— Nick Rubek (@nickrubekOWH) October 10, 2015
Fant's commitment has always been a bit hazy; he specifically did not shut down his recruiting, and plans on taking all five official visits this fall, which sounds an awful lot like being uncommitted. But if there's a year where one should not be concerned by a committed player popping up in Lincoln unannounced, it's this one.
Inside NU warns not to take too much from Northwestern's 38-0 beatdown at the hands of Michigan Saturday:
On the journey to Indianapolis, Oct. 17 was always going to be more momentous than Oct. 10. A win over Michigan but a loss to Iowa would've left the Wildcats staring up at the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten West driver's seat. But a loss to Michigan and a win over Iowa — which still doesn't seem like too big of an ask — would probably put Northwestern in that driver's seat.
Our own Jason Kirk has the Hawkeyes' hot start paying off in...yet another Outback Bowl. God damn it.
Football Study Hall ranks every college football program based on 'program strength' over the last decade. Iowa is right about where you'd expect: 36th overall, seventh in the Big Ten, and 11th overall in defense.
There's been a bunch of news from around the conference this week: Maryland fired Randy Edsall Sunday, as expected. Former New Mexico coach and Illinois assistant Mike Locksley is taking over for the rest of the season. Wisconsin is finally leaving Adidas for Under Armour. And Minnesota's Board of Regents just OK'd a bunch of new athletic facilities, including a new indoor practice facility and basketball practice centers.
Former Iowa State coach Dan McCarney is now former North Texas coach Dan McCarney. North Texas, which lost to Iowa in the season's fourth week, lost to Portland State by 59 points Saturday, a record margin of defeat by an FBS program against an FCS team.