Commentary: Don’t doubt the Hawks


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Yes, I foolishly doubted the Hawkeyes.

For about three minutes, my mind wandered to a terrible place.

Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi had just thrown his third of five interceptions. Indiana had a first-and-goal at the Iowa 4 and was about to put the Hawkeyes into a three-possession hole.

My language at that moment could have made Richard Pryor cringe, and my thoughts were every bit as unforgivable.

I thought, “This magic run had to end sometime, right?”

Shame on me.

Had I not seen two-straight blocked field goals to preserve a win against Northern Iowa?

Had I not seen Adrian Clayborn’s bearish figure bull rush his way into a season-changing punt block and subsequent run to paydirt?

Had I not seen how unflinchingly resilient Stanzi is? Had I not seen Marvin McNutt’s heroics just a week before?

Reliving these moments, I am utterly embarrassed by my loss of faith. The Hawkeyes were right where they’d seemingly prefer to be — in the face of almost unbelievable adversity.

I should have foreseen the play that came 59 game-seconds later.

While some fans may have been in disbelief after Tyler Sash’s fortunate 86-yard pick-6, it simply brought me back to reality. In retrospect, it seems only logical the ball bounce off four other players, including the Indiana quarterback, before finding its way into Sash’s hands.

After that play, I hastily put my foolish grumpiness aside. Despite two more third-quarter interceptions from Stanzi, I just kind of assumed Iowa would win.

It shouldn’t have surprised anyone in Kinnick Stadium when the quarterback with four interceptions and only four completions in the third quarter registered a flawless fourth.

Everyone in attendance could see Stanzi’s struggles (although, I would like to thank a woman a few rows behind me for periodically driving the point home). For that reason alone, we should have assumed the junior would do nothing but heave bombs from that point on.

After the things Iowa fans have seen in 2009, everyone who expected less should be ashamed of themselves, too.

McNutt and Sports Illustrated cover boy “Big-play DJK” turned two fairly routine catches in space into touchdowns of 92 and 66 yards on Stanzi’s next two tosses, and suddenly the once malcontent Iowa faithful had rediscovered their swagger.

But with 11:38 left and a palpable energy coursing through the Kinnick Stadium crowd, I assumed more madness was to ensue.

Iowa had little success running the ball in the first three quarters. So judging by the laws that seem to govern this season, it was no surprise to see the Hawkeyes grind out two more touchdown drives almost exclusively on the ground.

When Brandon Wegher’s career day was through, he had amassed more than 100 yards and three touchdowns. After the freshman saluted his fellow students from the back of the end zone, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” blared from the Kinnick speakers.

It was a fitting moment for a team that seems to feast on surprise and bathe in resiliency.

I know it sounds sappy, but just take a look at what this Iowa team does on a weekly basis. It’s getting harder to discredit what the Hawkeyes are accomplishing this fall.

So during the next three weeks, if any of you Hawkeye fans start to lose faith, watch out.

This team will probably make a fool out of you.

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