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THE MORNING AFTER — ILLINOIS

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That wasn’t close!

Iowa v Illinois
GEOFFME
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

If there’s a better way than to come out of a melancholy-inducing three-game losing streak than the complete and utter destruction of a team in a 63-point shutout, I don’t know what it is.

Yes, parts of the season have been miserable. Yes, things slipped away. But a 63-0 whooping of Illinois certainly feels great.

Maybe it’s the way it happened, maybe it’s just that I was honestly not going to be surprised with a stupid loss here… but at least it’s something. This was a clearly inferior opponent and Iowa put its weight down. All of it. There’s no getting up from this one for the Illini. This was a good old fashion hosing that will be embarrassing Illinois for a loooong time. I mean that team didn’t even look like it belonged in the FBS. For once in the past month, I’m not completely dreading rewatching this game.

Whether it was Noah Fant getting a team-high in targets or Hockenson scoring two touchdowns on two catches or even A.J. Epenesa turning into the fully realized terror-monster we know he is. This was all good.

I mean, hell, Kyle Groeneweg finally broke a punt for a touchdown! I’m still riding this high a little bit, but honestly to see Iowa do something like this after three weeks of pure misery — it just feels good.

And the part that really sucks is this was the team that’s been just under the surface throughout the season. The Hawkeyes are good. Really talented. It just hasn’t all come together at the right points this year.

When it does, like yesterday, it’s just all the more frustrating because if the Hawkeyes played like this all the time they could beat just about anyone in the country. They really are that deep and this good. We have players that are matchup nightmares. Our defense has shown the ability to limit a lot of things this year. We cause turnovers like it’s nobody’s business. Things are just… off on occasion.

But I’m trying not to dwell on what can be or should have been all that much. It’s honestly just an exercise in futility and will make you more frustrated the more you think about it.

But maybe, just maybe, Iowa can end this thing out right. Win on Friday against a Nebraska team that’s coming into Kinnick on senior day and we’ll have the chance at a nine-win season. After all the stupid crap that has gone on this year, that’s not nothing.

We can spend all offseason debating whether the year was a success or a failure. Whether Brian Ferentz is good or bad or somewhere in between. What more tight end usage this season would have led to. There’s all sorts of things. I mean we’re all Iowa fans, that’s what we love to do.

If we’re not getting frustrated with the Hawkeyes then something is probably wrong.

But this week, we can bask in this one a little bit. It felt good. You can admit it felt good. Almost like having a really bad taste in your mouth from some foul medicine you took and rinsing it out with some water.

No, that taste isn’t completely gone. But it’s a start.