For the 17th time in the past 20 seasons, the Iowa football team is bowl eligible.
Just 19 other Power 5 schools around the country can say that. Only 11 have been bowl eligible more than those 17 times. While simply making a bowl game is certainly shooting a lot lower than what this team is capable of, it’s still an impressive streak.
Only two teams in the Big Ten — Ohio State and Wisconsin — have made the postseason more than Iowa over the past 20 years. While those bowl games haven’t always come after pretty seasons, the sustained success the Hawkeyes have enjoyed under Kirk Ferentz is something that’s easy to take for granted.
Sitting at 6-1 after a shellacking of Maryland, the Hawkeyes are one of the three best teams in the conference and perhaps even one of the top two. Outside of what now seems to be a fluky loss to Wisconsin, there hasn’t been a game where Iowa has really been tested. The Hawkeyes six wins have all come by double digits and as PSD points out, Iowa’s trailed in the second half for just four minutes and 32 seconds this season. Total.
Speaking of tweets, there’s another that I keep thinking about.
The most-revealing thing in Kirk Ferentz's Tuesday press conference came 24 minutes in. He said "I think we have a real window of opportunity over the next eight weeks." For Ferentz, that can almost be translated into "We have a chance to go 11-1."— Mike Hlas (@Hlas) October 2, 2018
The presser Hlas is referring to came after the bye week, ahead of the game against Minnesota. At the time I thought it was kind of interesting, but even winning double-digit games wasn’t something that was really crossing my mind after that fiasco.
Now, however, things are a little different. Yes. Trips to Penn State and (now) Purdue look dangerous. Northwestern is Northwestern. Scott Frost probably wants to beat Iowa more than Matt Campbell. Illinois is not good.
But on Saturday afternoon, Iowa played one of the most pure IOWA FOOTBAWL games I have ever seen. A 40:55 (!!!) to 19:05 advantaged in playing time. 228 rushing yards at a 4.3 yards per carry clip. A 50 percent conversion rate on third downs. 46.5 yards per punt. Zero penalties. Zero sacks allowed.
In a season where the Hawkeyes have turned to The Air Raid (I kid, but hey, we’ve had a non-zero amount of four- and five-wide sets this year) it was nice to see Iowa get back to the very basics of what makes Iowa football, IOWA FOOTBAWL.
And, granted, the defense has been strong all year and the Hawks have been winning field position by a large margin. But still, watching that... it was awesome.
More than that, it made feel (oh god) a little (my chest hurts) optimistic about where we go from here. I sorta hate making this prediction right now, but I think Iowa beats Penn State. That absolute embarrassment in 2016 followed a year after by one of the more painful losses I’ve seen will have everyone motivated.
Ferentz has never beaten James Franklin and he hasn’t won a game against the Nittany Lions since 2010. That very well could change by this time next week.
And after that? Things open up. This team really does have a chance to run the table. And the last time we said that, Iowa ended up in the Rose Bowl.
It’s a fun time to be a Hawkeye fan right now. We’ve got a great team and the potential to do something truly special. I wasn’t expecting this season to unfold the way it has so far and it’s all the more enjoyable because of that.
These type of years and these type of moments are what truly makes being an Iowa fan worth it. Let’s enjoy it.