OK, now I’m convinced.
The 2013 Iowa football team is better and has more upside than the 2012 Hawkeye squad that finished 4-8 last season.
Some fans might respond to that assessment by saying, “What took you so long, Captain Obvious?” But I needed more proof before making that statement.
I needed to see Iowa put a hurt on somebody.
I needed to see the Hawkeyes dominate a game in virtually every facet.
I needed to see if Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz still remembered how to empty his bench because it had been a while.
And I needed to see Iowa defeat a directional school from Michigan because just like Ferentz emptying his bench, it had been a while.
All four of those things happened in resounding fashion during a 59-3 beat-down against Western Michigan Saturday at Kinnick Stadium.
“You knew you didn’t play very well when the opposing head coach, who you respect and admire, comes up and just looks at you and he goes, ‘Just one of those games,” ’ first-year Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck said of Ferentz. “I sat there and thought about what he said, and I said, ‘Wow, Kirk Ferentz said it was just one of those games.’ Maybe it was. I don’t know. We didn’t play very well.”
The question is why?
Was Saturday’s mismatch a case of a bad Western Michigan squad self-destructing on a big stage? Or was it simply a case of an Iowa team that’s better than expected disposing of a vastly inferior opponent as it should’ve done?
It was probably a little of both, which is still a major step forward for the Hawkeyes.
It almost seemed like the current Western Michigan squad was forced to pay for what happened in the previous two games against the Hawkeyes. As improbable as it sounds, Iowa hadn’t defeated the Broncos before Saturday, losing at home in 2000 and 2007.
Those two losses served as red flags because Iowa failed to make a bowl game in both seasons. The 2007 squad met the bowl requirement by winning six games, but that’s about the only requirement that offensively challenged team met six years ago.
Western Michigan at 0-4 isn’t very good, and ultimately could prove to be lousy this season.
But on the other hand, it’s unlikely that the 2012 Hawkeye squad could’ve scored 59 points against any opponent or maybe not even against air.
I’m still not convinced that Iowa will prevail at Minnesota in the Big Ten opener next Saturday. But I also don’t have the Minnesota game penciled in as a loss anymore.
My glass kept getting fuller while the points kept piling up Saturday.
The lopsided victory not only inspired hope, it also provided some high-quality entertainment, another thing that had been missing from Hawkeye football lately. I actually found myself feeling sorry for the Broncos as the margin continued to grow.
My advice to Iowa fans is to savor the victory, but don’t get carried away with it.
It’s obvious with Saturday’s performance, which included Kevonte Martin-Manley returning two punts for touchdowns and cornerback B.J. Lowery doing the same with two interceptions, that Iowa is moving back in the right direction, and is doing so under a head coach who’s been there and done it before.
The risk with Saturday’s victory is that it could create a false sense of hope.
But it sure beats the alternative, which in Iowa’s case was the fourth nonconference game last season when Central Michigan stunned the Hawkeyes 32-31 at Kinnick Stadium. That sobering defeat was a warning of more misery to come.
So perhaps Saturday’s 56-point drubbing was the same thing, only with the roles reversed.
“I’d much rather have this than last year’s game four,” Ferentz said of the Central Michigan loss. “We tried that one. That wasn’t such a good idea.
“We wanted to win today. Any time we’re playing we want to win. We got that done, and the fact that other guys got to play today and we did some good things, that’s good. But there’s going to be a lot to correct tomorrow, I know that.”
For Iowa senior linebacker James Morris, Saturday’s rout sort of brought back memories of high school when he and the Solon Spartans routinely pounded opponents into submission.
“I don’t know, I wasn’t scoring any touchdowns, so that’s the difference,” Morris said. “I kept saying to myself, when is my chance to get a pair?’ I figured B.J. could have given me one of his.”
Morris also will remind himself this week that the Western Michigan game is in the past. It was fun while it lasted, but it only counts as one victory over an opponent that Iowa should defeat 99 out of 100 times.
“We’re trying to build something here,” Morris said. “We don’t want to be a one-hit wonder. We want to be competitive in October and November and down the stretch.”
The fact that Western Michigan wasn’t competitive in late September is certainly a good sign.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football