This was a very weird weekend. Apparently there’s this storm in the Caribbean that turned from a tropical storm to a category 5 hurricane overnight and will likely dump over 2 feet of rain on Jamaica and Haiti. The city of Philadelphia has a dumpster pool epidemic to handle. Strange statues of Pikachu are appearing mysteriously. Mack Brown decided he didn’t need to stick around for the end of the BYU-Toledo game. And Iowa football allowed 38 points to a Northwestern team that had previously looked like they had been playing offense with only 10 men on the field. It’s clearly the end of the world as we know it (but I don’t feel fine).
Through five weeks, the Iowa offense has run the fewest plays from scrimmage of any FBS team. But on Saturday, Iowa ran a season-high 68 offensive plays and still found a way to lose. Northwestern ran 72 plays from scrimmage, 5 fewer than Rutgers put up against Iowa, but scored more than 5 times as many points. Iowa is scoring 30.6 points per game and holding opponents to 18.4 (ranking 62nd and 21st nationally, respectively) and is only one game above .500 despite ranking in the top half of the nation in both scoring offense and defense. None of this makes any sense at all.
I was scrambling to find any sort of explanation, any way reason for Iowa’s inexplicable impotence over the last three weeks. I looked at the temperature, the cloud cover, hurricanes making landfall, Yeti sightings, numerology, astrology, xenobiology, and the tales of the SCP Foundation. Finally, I was forced to look at the lunar cycles. If you were paying attention you might have heard that this weekend also happened to coincide with the somewhat-rare “black moon,” or the second new moon of a calendar month. In black magic, witch is obviously real (I’m not sorry about that one), the black moon represents a time of potency. Of course, a rare astronomical event coinciding with all of the other weird things this weekend brought us might be the answer to the utter chaos that was Iowa’s game against Northwestern. I looked back at Iowa’s history since 2012 to see if there were any other games in which Iowa was favored that were played during a new moon.
There was only one instance of a new moon occurring when Iowa was favored in a football game: against Michigan State on October 5, 2013. It is, of course, no coincidence that Iowa lost to MSU almost exactly 3 years ago to the day on a new moon. It is this confluence of events that was clearly responsible for the suspect officiating and poor play by Iowa that highlighted the day. It has to be, because neither I nor H.A.W.K.E.Y.E.S. can fathom any other reason. And it is quite fitting, because it feels like the entirety of Hawkeye fandom just got mooned by this season.