Watching this game was tough, and not just for the reasons you think.
Last night my wife had a night out so I had to solo the bedtime routines for our three kids, including our five month old son who has a frustrating habit of refusing to take a bottle. No matter what I tried, no matter how much I followed the usual pattern, he doesn’t want anything to do with that damn bottle. Instead, like the good dad that I am, I walked laps through our house over and over, getting spit up on every now and then and catching glimpses of the game until the little guy fell asleep and I could lay on the couch. Despite having his supper and nighttime routine right there, we had to do things the hard way.
Thank goodness that little five month old baby was snuggled on my chest asleep, because I needed all the good vibes I could get watching the Iowa Hawkeyes’ latest pile of wet dog shit they call football.
Yes, believe it or not, Iowa once again failed to mount much of any offensive production on the way to a 9-6 loss to the Illinois Fighting Illini. This was Illinois’ first victory in the series since 2008, and only their third in this millennium. For years, Illinois was a comfortable W for Iowa. They’d give the odd scare here and there, but it was never a game that you seriously dreaded. Throw that mentality out the window, because Illinois has fire right now thanks to Ol’ Bret and Iowa is still stuck thinking it’s 2003.
This game was the perfect encapsulation of the failures and shortcomings of Iowa’s offense. It was the perfect storm of terrible play calling, overmatched personnel, outdated scheme, and mistakes. There wasn’t ever a moment where all three of those elements were working at the same time. Passes game starting to move the chains thanks to LaPorta and Ragaini? Nope, time for a doomed trick play and a loss of seven. Offense starting to move into Illinois territory? How about a tight end pass six damn yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Blue line is line of scrimmage not first down. And that’s a pass to a TE. pic.twitter.com/FgX14NwMVR— Chris Hassel (@Hassel_Chris) October 9, 2022
Oh, we get a muffed punt AND fumble recovery in consecutive drives? We’ll just have seven plays for -10 yards, thank you very much.
Every damn time there was a glimmer of hope in this game that the offensive line, Petras, Brian, or Kirk or any combination of those four could pull some shambling facsimile of a functioning offense together, the entire thing blew up in their face like a Wile E. Coyote rocket. Nine points given up in an away game should be more than enough to win the game. But this offense apparently things it’s a game of limbo where no matter how low your opponent goes you have to go lower.
Iowa’s offense has relied time and again on the defense to put them in short fields and advantageous situations from which they can score. But even with THREE turnovers we couldn’t score more than two field goals. The defense was tasked time and time again to put out the fire and they did every time. Illinois didn’t reach the end zone and their closest opportunity resulted in one of those turnovers. If Phil Parker doesn’t rip the Ferentz boys a new one after tonight then he actually could be canonized as a saint.
Illinois has a good team. Their defense was impressive last night and running back Chase Brown is a straight up dude. Bret Bielema has that team firing on all cylinders right now, fans and players are buying in and the team now sits atop the Big Ten West standings. Meanwhile, Iowa is trying to drive a buggy with square wheels and a goat instead of horse and we’re supposed to believe everything is fine. “We won ten games last year” said Kirk in his postgame press conference. Yes, last year was unique and special and nobody can take those ten games away from you. But you said it yourself, that was last year. I don’t care what happened last year because it has zero bearing on what is going on right now. I don’t care who looks good in practice. I care about this program and where its going in the years to come. Because your next-state neighbor, the one you’ve sleepwalked over for twenty years, just out-Iowa’d you in prime time and I’m worried it won’t be the last time.
Iowa needs something new. The soothing supper and nighttime routine it’s used to isn’t working anymore. But instead of doing what’s best for us and adapting to new circumstances we’re just going to fuss, spit up on ourselves, and do things the hard way.
And now my son is crying again. Thanks Brian.