So I got criticized the other day by Hawkeye fans for not including Iowa's big win in the CyHawk series this weekend in Monday's Three Count. They were disappointed they didn't get any praise or accolades from the Three Count for their 44-41 win over Iowa State last week. I guess I just figured when you are playing a team that hasn't won over 3 games in a season for the past four years, that you are expected to win that game and act like you've been there before. But apparently Hawkeye fans feel otherwise so here we go.
Congratulations to the Iowa Hawkeyes on their big win last weekend in Ames. Hell of an exciting game. Not sure it was a great game, definitely not a well-played game by any measure, but it sure as hell was exciting. You never know what you're going to get in a rivalry game so Hawkeye fans surely were relieved to leave Ames on Saturday with a victory. A loss on Saturday would have really made their quest to make a bowl game this season interesting, as we've discussed previously here in the Three Count. This win provides them quite a bit of wiggle room later in the year to assure themselves a bowl bid later in the season.
Also had to be promising for Iowa fans that their team stepped up and got the job done in their toughest non-conference game in over 5-years. Sure, Iowa State has won 3, 3, 2, and 3 games their past four season and haven't won a bowl game since 2009; but with the potential this Cyclones team has this season this had to be considered Iowa's toughest test in the nonconference in quite some time. An embarrassing statement, yes...but still a reality. Other than Iowa State, here is Iowa's non-conference games the past 5 seasons.
2016: Miami (OH), North Dakota State
2015: Illinois State, Pittsburgh, North Texas
2014: Northern Iowa, Ball State, at Pittsburgh
2013: Northern Illinois, Missouri State, Western Michigan
2012: Northern Illinois (at Soldier Field), Northern Iowa, Central Michigan
Not exactly Murderers' Row by any means there. I'm not sure that's even House Arrests' Row. Also kind of negates some Hawkeyes' fans arguments that Iowa would schedule tougher non-conference games if they only had 8 Big Ten games instead of 9. Those 2014, 2013 and 2012 matchups aren't exactly must see TV. But that's a different debate for a different day. We are celebrating Iowa's huge win right now.
So I'd say going into this contest, this had to be the toughest matchup Kirk Ferentz has had in the nonconference in over 5 years. You could make an argument that going to Pittsburgh in 2014 was possibly tougher, or at least on the same level, but Pitt was 6-7 that year and not exactly a powerhouse in the ACC. I'd say an in-state rivalry game on the road against an up-and-coming squad would top that. And again, we are talking which nonconference game is tougher: Pittsburgh or Iowa State. Great work Kirk. Great work Gary.
So for a team that isn't used to getting challenged until conference play, I thought Iowa handled themselves pretty well, especially with a young quarterback still gathering experiences. Iowa responded to the Cyclones scoring a touchdown in their first drive by eventually taking control the game. They were up 21-10 in the third quarter. Then despite blowing that lead, they came back from a 31-21 deficit in the 4th quarter to force overtime and prevail in OT. That's not an ideal situation against a team with 12 wins over the past 4+ seasons but it did show some grit and toughness from the Hawkeyes which has to make their fans happy.
Hawks fans also have to be pleased with Stanley coming out of that contest and that was arguably their biggest question mark coming into the season. You're always looking to answer as many of those preseason question marks as you can in those early season games. And that was a big question mark Iowa is starting to get an answer to and it seems to be an answer they'll like for the next 3 years. So granted they were on the ropes and gave up 38 points in regulation to a Cyclones team averaging under 3 wins a season the past 4 years, they still managed to leave Ames with a W and had some high-spots themselves. For a team that's used to playing FCS schools and bottom of the barrel FBS schools, you take whatever you can get.
So congratulations Iowa fans on your big win. Hopefully you can keep that momentum up this weekend when you face your next big non-conference test......North Texas.
In other Big Ten news, the conference released their 2020 and 2021 conference football schedules yesterday. Now I fancy myself to be a fairly intelligent guy, but I'm not even going to attempt to figure out how the Big Ten determines those cross-divisional match-ups. Trying to find a pattern or a reasoning on how those cross-divisional pairings come about is a task all to itself.
I just want to talk through the big change in the divisional pairings in the Big Ten West. No more Minnesota-Wisconsin and Iowa-Nebraska match ups on the final week of the season. Which means no more border battle game between Iowa and Nebraska on Black Friday come 2020 and beyond. Seems like a waste.
One of the things that makes college sports feel special are the rivalries. Not that the rest of the nation really cared about Iowa-Nebraska or Minnesota-Wisconsin, but those games mattered in Big 10 land. Those games will still be played obviously, but having them on the final week of the season added a little bit more to those games.
Especially for Nebraska. Them losing their coveted Black Friday game initially seemed like a slap in the face of the Cornhuskers from the Big Ten offices. But now I'm reading that it was possibly Nebraska's preference. If that's the case, that seems like a real head-scratcher. Not that Nebraska playing football on Black Friday had the same prestige or history as the Lions/Cowboys playing on Thanksgiving or even Army/Navy playing on the final week of the season, but it was still a tradition. For a school that so desperately tries to cling to their tradition and glory years, this seems like a very odd move from Nebraska. Maybe it's a positive sign that they are willing to move forward from the '90s and start new traditions. Seems odd though and another step towards making Nebraska "just another football school" in the college football landscape.
Alright, I know we've had to postpone this tournament twice already this summer but I think this is going to be the final date. If it doesn't work on this date we will probably just scrap it for the year and try it again next year. But I think it should work.
Saturday October, 14th
I don't have a time set yet. That will be determined based on the Iowa State kickoff that week. Ideally, the Iowa State game in Ames will be an 11:00 am kickoff and then we can have the tournament at 5:00 PM after that game. That will give people that want to go to the game and this tournament a chance to do both.
If the Cyclones game that day is not an 11:00 am kick than we may try to find a different time, but I'll keep everyone update on the start time as the date gets closer. The Hawkeyes are off that week I believe so no conflict there.
Start getting the N64s out and get to practicing. The green flags drop in a little over a month!