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Commentary: All is not lost, Hawkeye fans

BY BRENDAN STILES | NOVEMBER 09, 2009 7:20 AM

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Hawkeye fans, stop acting like the sky is falling.

I get the frustration that comes with watching Iowa lose a game for the first time in more than a calendar year (and to Northwestern, no less). I also understand that seeing Ricky Stanzi go down to injury a week before playing in his home state is a shame. In fact, it’s a damn shame.

But with that said, stop talking about this upcoming game at Ohio State on Saturday as if it’s an automatic “L.”

Tip your hat to the Wildcats. The 17-10 win was big for them, and they made the plays they needed to make.

Teams that do that usually win.

I’ll give you three reasons why Iowa lost to Northwestern:

No. 1 — Running the ball for a net total of 65 yards, especially when your starting quarterback gets injured, doesn’t get the job done.

No. 2 — For as great as the defense looked, Northwestern converted nine third-down attempts. And some of those were third-and-short because the Wildcats got positive yardage on the first and second downs.

No. 3 — Turnovers. Just as in last year’s game at Kinnick Stadium, when Iowa turned the ball over five times, the Hawkeyes lost two fumbles and threw two interceptions. Again, teams aren’t going to win too often when they give the ball away.

Stanzi’s injury played a part, granted, but his absence still could’ve been overcome.

And don’t even get me started on this notion of a Sports Illustrated cover jinx. A magazine has nothing to do with what happens in a football game.

No players or coaches wearing black and gold are making any excuses for why they got beat last weekend. They’ve accepted the fact that Northwestern beat the Hawkeyes fair and square and are moving on.

I suggest you all do the same and look at the bright side of things for a second — even if the light is dimmer than it was a week ago.

For all the adversity and turmoil that has come the Hawkeyes’ way the past three months, they’re sitting at 9-1 with two games left. This speaks volumes about the team, from the top down.

My guess is there wouldn’t be too many college football teams out there that can overcome everything Iowa has this season and still have a 9-1 record. In fact, a team like Michigan would kill to trade places with Iowa right now.

To act like the Hawkeyes’ storybook 2009 season just went down the drains because of one game is a slap in the face to this team and what it has accomplished already.

And guess what? There’s still a chance for the happy ending people across the state want to see.

You realize if Iowa does what some now find unfathomable (winning at Ohio State), it locks up a trip to the Rose Bowl — no matter what happens against Minnesota.

Let me repeat myself: Beat the Buckeyes, and the Hawkeyes will spend New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif., playing in “The Granddaddy of ’Em All.” It has become that simple.

Iowa’s game with Ohio State is as close to a championship game as there is in the Big Ten. One set of “Eyes” is smelling roses come Saturday night. That’s what every Big Ten team that enters the month of August hopes to do come November.

All year long, the Hawkeyes have shown how resilient they can be. And with or without perhaps the most resilient player there is, their goal is still within reach and will be obtained with a victory at the Horseshoe.

Now is not the time for any Hawkeye fan to abandon ship. After all, no one on the team is panicking.


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