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Commentary: Never take a win for granted

BY JORDAN GARRETSON | NOVEMBER 08, 2010 7:20 AM

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — When did we get to this point in college football?

You know, that point where it wasn't impressive to many fans and media — or better yet, even OK — to simply escape with a hard-earned victory.

OK, I guess I'm not old enough to really call for a rewind of football ideology. Maybe we were always at this point. Maybe not.

Either way, if there's one thing I've learned about college football, it's this: Never take a win for granted.

Iowa's 18-13 win over Indiana on Nov. 6 is no different.

Yes, the Hawkeyes entered Bloomington with a No. 15 ranking, while the Hoosiers haven't sniffed the top 25 in years.

Yes, Iowa needed a 52-yard touchdown pass with under three minutes remaining to take the lead.
And yes, Kirk Ferentz's squad was one Damarlo Belcher dropped pass in the end zone away from being upset by an 0-4 Big Ten team.

That play was the difference. Ricky Stanzi and Marvin McNutt connected when Iowa needed it. And Ben Chappell delivered when Indiana needed it, heaving a masterfully placed ball for Belcher to catch it.

But he didn't.

Sometimes that's all you need to do to get a win — just make one more play than the other guys. Iowa's victory is not sexy like TCU's 47-7 throttling of Utah in Salt Lake City or Stanford's 42-17 beatdown of Arizona.

Let's look at the things Iowa overcame to win Nov. 6.

1. No Adam Robinson. Yes, Marcus Coker did way more than anyone could ask. But you can't just expect a true freshman to go for 120 yards every time. And while Coker picked up the essentially same yardage Iowa missed from Robinson, the Hawkeyes missed Robinson's knack for scoring when in the red zone. Coker was also nonexistent in the pass game.

2. Linebacker health (or lack thereof). It has been well-documented, but injuries have left the Hawkeyes devastated at linebacker. Compare the current two-deeps with the preseason two deeps, and you'd think you were comparing two different seasons.

3. Starting a freshman walk-on kicker. This isn't a knock on Mike Meyer. The dude has performed admirably this season. The next person who complains about Meyer needs to instead start questioning why — and how — Trent Mossbrucker allowed a walk-on to steal his job. The point is, Meyer came up huge against Indiana, most notably drilling a 42-yarder that kept Iowa in the game.

4. Awful kickoff coverage. Does anything else need to be said about this? Probably not, but I will anyway. Some games you'll watch the Iowa offense and defense play absolutely seamlessly — and then you'll see the special teams, most notably this unit. It's essentially like you've found your dream girl, but she has a crazy ex-boyfriend.

And yet people will still look at the 0-4 Big Ten record Indiana brought with it to the Nov. 6 contest and say Iowa should have won by three touchdowns.

Newsflash: Indiana is by no means a bad team. This is virtually the same squad that took Iowa to the very brink of a loss in Kinnick Stadium last season. Ben Chappell is one of the better quarterbacks in college football whom no one talks about, and the Hoosiers also boast three of the top receivers in the conference. Plus, let's be honest — they run an extremely bizarre scheme.

"Nothing was easy," Ferentz said. "It's November. You're playing in the conference. You're on the road. You have to expect that. If you don't, you're a fool."

That's not coach speak. That's reality.


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