Thus far in life and in writing, I’ve been fortunate enough to stay away from recruiting. I’m glad that others know and care more about it than I do and probably ever will. The former recruiting story motto here at the Pants was “Caring is Creepy,” and I always felt that was a very apt description. But as much as I don’t care for worrying about the comings and goings of a 17-year-old boy (seriously, y’all, stop Tweeting at them, it’s borderline gross), it is a part of the sport that I love to watch. Luckily, I get the enviable job of playing Dungeon Quest on the computer in Mom’s Basement, and occasionally smacking the monitor when it’s time to play pretend and predict things.
With Iowa on a bye this week, the A.I. really went into overdrive.
First let’s take a look back at the Wisconsin game. Iowa played close with a top-10 team. But it never felt anywhere near like Iowa was going to win, really. The moment I knew the game was over was when the exalted Desmond King missed his first tackle in what seems like a decade when he tried to strip the ball on Wisconsin’s longest play of the game. In fact, a lot of this game seemed to hinge on Iowa’s inability to wrap up the Badgers, even when they weren’t going for the home run hit (I’m looking at you, safeties). The result was the first game this season in which Iowa gave up more than 10 yards per pass attempt, and only the second allowing more than 8 yards. On the flip side, it was also the second best performance against the rush that Iowa has had this season, allowing fewer than 4 yards per carry.
The computer crushed it this week. Outside of being a little gung-ho on the score and distrusting Iowa’s run defense (who didn’t?), it pretty much nailed all of the important metrics, predicting the passing yardage of both teams within 8. It knew that Iowa would have a hard time moving the ball on the ground (or at all). Also worth noting is that H.A.W.K.E.Y.E.S. was incredibly close on the time of possession, predicting Wisconsin to control the pace of the game from start to finish. And, frankly, if not for the Badgers’ fumble in the end zone, the score would have reflected that as well. I’m going to call this one a big win for the mechanical overlord.
Iowa’s next game is against Penn State in Happy Valley, November 5th. And even though PSU only has two losses, their wins have come against some below average ... WHAT DID YOU SAY?!?!?!?! The Nittany Lions beat Urban Meyer??? And they ran only 56 plays on offense? Only 13 first downs? And they beat the No. 2 ranked Buckeyes? The Ohio State? I don’t know what to do with this season, anymore. I’m going to go boot up the Commodore 64 and let it try to make sense of the data. Or I might try something less impossible, like hacking the Gibson.