Does a win over Pitt warrant Junior Senior treatment? Under normal circumstances, maybe not. But screw it -- it's been a long time since we've been able to play it and after the last week, I think we need it.
Iowa, fully embracing the "football is a game of two halves" cliche, rebounded from last week's gut-wrenching 20-17 loss to Iowa State -- and an alarming first half where they were largely pushed around on the way to a 17-7 Panther lead -- to beat Pitt, 24-20. CJ Beathard replaced Jake Rudock at halftime and seemed to provide a spark to the Iowa offense -- most notably on a jaw-dropping 62-yard completion to Damond Powell (see below)-- but the game also turned on the ability of the Iowa lines to re-assert themselves.
The defensive line was blown off the field in the first half as Pitt and terrormonster RB James Conner ran roughshod over Iowa. But the defense looked far more formidable in the second half, keeping Conner largely in check and effectively pressuring Pitt QB Chad Voytik. That was the sort of performance Iowa will need out of the defense on a regular basis to contend this year. The offensive line wasn't quite as bad in the first half, but they still struggled; in the second half, they did a far better job of opening up holes for Mark Weisman (who exploited them ruthlessly). Beathard's presence and an actual commitment by Iowa to stretch the field also contributed to the friskiness the Iowa offense showed.
There's more to say about this game, but for now let's just enjoy a hard-fought road win. GO IOWA AWESOME.