Deep breaths. In and out.
It’s not helping. I’ll just have to hold my nose and talk about what happened. Fortunately, the list of things that I now know is much shorter after Saturday, so this won’t take too long. Northwestern came to town. And in true Pat Fitzgerald form, beat Iowa in a year when that’s not supposed to happen. In many ways, Fitzy is like the Anti-Ferentz, the Yin to Iowa’s Yang. Neither can can live while the other survives. Clayton Thorson looked just like he did last season: inconsistent and uncomfortable. But he didn’t need to look good, because Iowa left the gate open and the Northwestern running game walked right through the door, allowing nearly 200 yards on the ground. And at the exact same time, Iowa tried like crazy to establish a ground game, running the ball 41 times but averaging less than 2 yards per attempt. Say what you want about the officiating in this game, but that had little to no bearing on the fact that Iowa is both incapable of running the ball and incapable of stopping other teams from walking right through the front door. Unless that trend changes, this is going to be a very long season.
So just how far off was H.A.W.K.E.Y.E.S. in this contest? Well, the computer predicted Iowa winning, 26-15. All in all, that’s fairly close to correctly calling Iowa’s score. What the computer (nor I) accounted for was Northwestern smashing Iowa for almost 200 rushing yards. If we had seen that coming then H.A.W.K.E.Y.E.S. would have definitely increased its prediction for Northwestern’s score. But, like Iowa, the computer takes a second loss on the season and sits even with team at 3-2.
With that bit of housekeeping out of the way, Iowa heads to Minnesota to try to protect Floyd of Rosedale from the Golden Gophers who have been decent at defending against the rush. They have also but up some video-game-like rushing totals of their own, averaging nearly 230 yards per game on the ground. The good news? The Gophers have been fairly porous against the pass. Not that Iowa has looked particularly explosive in that phase of the game, either. In fact, the only place Iowa has looked good is special teams, where Desmond King and Riley McCarron have been huge. And Ron Coluzzi might be the only reason Iowa has kept its two losses close.
The only real hope I have left is that Mitch Leidner suddenly remembers how ridiculous it is for him to pretend to be a potential first round draft pick, and return to his old self. And maybe Minnesota will remember its place as a perennially bad-to-mediocre Big Ten team. Just look at the history of this rivalry game and you’ll see it’s been mostly dominated by Iowa until recently.
So let’s see what H.A.W.K.E.Y.E.S. says about Iowa’s chances this year, since it’s an impartial computer and it can’t lose hope the way we mere mortals can.
Well, that’s dismal. So we should expect Minnesota to run the ball all over us and win the time of possession battle by a wide margin. We should also expect it to be a sloppy game with a bunch of penalties by both teams. And even worse, for the first time, H.A.W.K.E.Y.E.S. is predicting an Iowa loss with 70% certainty. At least it looks like it will probably be a one score game. The silver lining? I won’t be upset to see CJB throw it around for almost 250 yards. But the pessimist in me is worried that the game won’t be this close. Just like Kirk Ferentz, I clearly do not know how to handle having high expectations for this team. Personally, I think Iowa keeps this one close, but Minnesota and its fans come ready to play and pull away late in the fourth quarter with a score of something like 42-31. Gross.