Iowa football has been one half away from perfection

BY BEN ROSS | OCTOBER 21, 2013 5:00 AM

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COLUMBUS, Ohio— If college football games were played for only the first 30 minutes, Iowa would be 7-0 this year, and the scent of roses would be wafting through downtown Iowa City. Which would be a nice change of pace from this pig farm smell we’ve been getting lately.

But college football isn’t played that way. It takes 60 hard-fought minutes, and the score at the end of those 60 minutes is what is reflected in the books. Iowa now finds itself with a 4-3 record in the middle of an ailing Legends division of the Big Ten.

I went into Columbus groggy from the eight-hour drive, worried Iowa fans would be subjected to watching the Hawkeyes get pushed around at the whim of Urban Meyer and the seemingly far superior No. 4 ranked Buckeyes.

But that wasn’t the case.

Iowa came out guns (tight ends) blazing and hung with the Bucks for three and half (or so) quarters. I didn’t expect to witness what was likely the best Iowa football game I’d seen in person since the 2010 contest against Wisconsin on Oct. 23 in Kinnick. You might remember that game, because of the fake punt Sconnie executed against the Black and Gold. But I digress.

Still, the end result from Iowa’s most recent contest was what I, and likely everyone expected: Iowa “needed to get got,” in the words of Lt. Cedric Daniels.

People will say Iowa is still far from a competent football team. It made numerous mistakes in the secondary, offensive play calling was suspect to say the least at times in the second half, and Braxton Miller appeared as though he is slippier than an eel covered in Vaseline.

But I’m not one of those people. Oct. 19 showed that making a bowl game, and even salvaging a respectable season out of 2013, isn’t so far fetched. Beware; these next 296 words will be optimistic about the Iowa football team, which is a road I’ve never really traveled before.

Iowa’s schedule is as follows: Northwestern, Wisconsin, at Purdue, Michigan, and at Nebraska. After watching the Kitties fall three in a row — the most recent loss an unforgivable one to Minnesota — Iowa should have no trouble toppling Northwestern, especially if Trevor Siemian’s injury is serious.

Purdue is a gimme, because Purdue. Michigan has done little to impress me this season, and I know I’m not the only one who thinks that. Iowa also plays well against the Wolverines at home, historically speaking.

Wisconsin and Nebraska will be the toughest tests the rest of the season, but neither team is better than Ohio State. Iowa has the luxury of taking on Bucky at home, the first matchup between the two since the aforementioned fake-punt game. Nebraska could be tricky, too, but it doesn’t really seem like Bo Pelini has that program under control since his true thoughts on the Husker fan base became public.

Am I saying Iowa could still win the Legends Division? Of course not. That would require Iowa to basically run the table on its remaining schedule and Michigan State to implode to epic proportions. But could Iowa still make it to a respectable bowl game? That’s not out of the question. Even with a 4-3 record right now, 7-5 or 8-4 seems a lot more likely than 5-7 or 6-6.

Iowa has the tools to get there, too. If it can stay healthy, and if Jake Rudock continues to make the progressions at quarterback that he’s shown, I see no reason as to why Iowa can’t make it back to a respectable bowl game.

Remember the Insight Bowl win over Missouri back in 2010? I do, too. It was the last time Kirk Ferentz, along with most Hawkeye football fans, have smiled.

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