Tuesday, September 28, 2010

1st Quarter Sanity Check

Apparently, the Iowa State football team spent too much time in Hilton Coliseum last winter. An offense that was promised to be vastly improved, more resembles that of Coach McDermott’s recent basketball squad (an outfit led by NBA pick Craig Brackins that was supposed to score loads of points)…and we all know how that turned out.

We’ve already hit the quarter pole of the college football season, and it’s clear (based on my preseason predictions), that my sanity was not all there. Shocking, I know. But seriously, I didn’t think I’d be that far off the mark! With that said, here’s a more “educated” analysis of those predictions based on the first 4 games:

1. Iowa State will finish in the top 10 in the nation in total offense—Honestly, this is the one that frustrates (and surprises) me the most. I really thought that year two would begin to produce results similar to what Offensive Coordinator Tom Herman accomplished at Rice. But it just hasn’t. The offensive line was supposed to be better than this—much better, but it hasn’t. Austin Arnaud was supposed to be much better than he has—but he hasn’t been either. My prediction was so far off on this that Iowa State is currently in danger of finishing in the bottom 10 in the nation. They rank 106th of 120 FBS teams through 4 games. Ouch.
2. Austin Arnaud or Alexander Robinson will be a Heisman candidate late into the season—Well, you can bet your life savings this prediction is not coming true. Iowa State’s best player so far this year has not been an offensive player. Surprisingly, it’s been sophomore linebacker A.J. Klein, who ranks 22nd nationally with 41 total tackles. He also has 2 interception returns for touchdowns. Last I checked, not too many defensive players have won the Heisman. Who would have guessed?
3. Iowa State will beat Iowa—To quote a line from Naked Gun 2 ½: "Truth hurts. Maybe not as much as jumping on a bicycle with a seat missing, but it hurts."
4. Iowa State will finish with more wins than Iowa—See Quote from #3.
5. Paul Rhoades will be a leading candidate for the Penn State job in the off-season—I still think Rhoades is a great coach, but the Penn State job is certainly far-fetched at this point. It would take a miraculous finish with wins over Nebraska and either Oklahoma or Texas to make that kind of an argument.

Well, there’s still plenty of football left to be played, and plenty of great possibilities for the Hawkeyes and Cyclones. But so far, it looks like my predictions were merely pipe dreams, something we Cyclone fans have become all too familiar with.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Post-Game Thoughts On ISU vs. Iowa

Now that the anger has subsided and the smoke has cleared from the debacle in Iowa City on Saturday, I think I can give some rational thoughts to the massacre also known as “The Iowa/Iowa State Game.” I ended up getting some free tickets for the event and made the trek into enemy territory with much trepidation—partially out of fear I may get beat up wearing Cyclones gear, and partially because I know how miserable it is to be around 7 Hawkeye fans, not to mention 70,000. So, here we go.

1. Are the Hawkeyes that good? I think the answer is “yes.” I was very close to the Hawkeye sideline, right behind their bench, and I have to say—I’ve never seen a team that BIG. I just could not believe the size of their offensive and defensive line. I’ve also never seen a team dominate both lines of scrimmage as much as Iowa did. They are experienced and talented at EVERY position. They are a senior-laden, confident team, and they know how to win. I told my brother after the game that I think Iowa can beat anybody, and I really believe that.
2. Is Iowa State really that bad? I think the answer is “no.” The Hawkeyes size, the crowd, and the first two Hawkeye possessions of the game set the tone. ISU was clearly intimidated, clearly not on the same talent level as Iowa—but as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, I don’t think many teams in the country are on the same level as Iowa this year.
3. Why didn’t ISU try something different? To just go man-on-man, with no trick defensive schemes or blitz packages against that Iowa offense was flat out ludicrous. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over with the same result. I think our Defensive Coordinator lost his mind on Saturday. And I think the Iowa defense probably made our Offensive Coordinator lose his too.
4. I wish I didn’t hate the Hawkeyes so much. It should be such an easy team to love. It’s my home state. I respect and admire Coach Ferentz—I think he’s the best coach in the country and he runs a clean program. The stadium is spectacular. The crowd is electric. The team is good. It really is a great game-day experience…but I just can’t do it. Even with my memories of rooting for them when I was a kid, back in the Chuck Long and Ronnie Harmon days, there’s simply too many years of bitterness built up after all the chidings of arrogant Hawkeye fans to ever root for them. Maybe I just take this rivalry too seriously. After all, many Hawkeye fans think the rivalry with Nebraska next year will overtake the rivalry with Iowa State. If that’s the case, all I have to say is: Go Nebraska!!