Iowa’s wins hardly reason for praise

Unfortunately, I was not able to catch any of the day’s action live this weekend; I was in Richmond for the UMass-Richmond game. Besides getting absolutely drenched in torrential downpours, I saw my former teammate Tyler Holmes have clearly the best game of anyone on the defensive side of the ball for the Minutemen. Caleb Violette also made some very nice plays in the kicking game, despite Richmond’s 34-13 win.

Instead of awards this week (I feel since I can only base my opinions off 45 second highlights and the Pat Fordes of the world, awards wouldn’t do the week justice), I am going to stand up on a soapbox and talk about what’s really grinding my gears (one dollar to Peter Griffin).

You want to talk about cardiac kids? The Hawkeyes won their third game in the final seconds this season, beating Michigan State 15-13. The Spartans had recovered from an abysmal September, and were in prime position to notch a statement win in the Big Ten.

Ricky Stanzi had other plans, however. With a minute and a half remaining, Stanzi marched the Hawkeyes downfield, and on fourth-and-goal, he found Marvin McNutt as time expired to keep their undefeated season alive.

Iowa had already won by three points against two inferior opponents prior to Saturday. Against FCS foe Northern Iowa, the Hawkeyes blocked not one, but two field goals in the waning seconds to hold on for a 17-16 win.

The week following its huge road win against Penn State, Iowa nearly blew the Arkansas State game, giving up 14 points in the final quarter before holding on for a three-point win.

In my eyes, this raises the question of whether the Hawkeyes really deserve their no. four ranking in the BCS. The win over Penn State was all that was carrying the Hawkeyes to this point, and only after the Nittany Lions’ 35-10 drubbing over Michigan last week did they look like a credible opponent.

Iowa is in 2009 what they are every other year: a physical defensive team with a simple power-running game offense. The difference this year is the conference is much weaker all the way around. Ohio State has taken a step back, Penn State is not what we thought it would be, Michigan is rebuilding, and Wisconsin is not as strong as in years’ past.

The Hawkeyes may in fact run the table. Their final four games are against Indiana, Northwestern, Ohio State and Minnesota. All of those are winnable, with the game in Columbus as the biggest obstacle remaining. I like Ohio State in that game, but I am not counting the Hawkeyes out by any stretch of the imagination.

Even if Iowa does in fact run the table, I find their quality wins and strength of schedule to be marginally comparable to that of TCU’s. It would be a great accomplishment to say the least, but neither the Hawkeyes nor an unbeaten Horned Frogs team should merit a national title appearance over a once-beaten Alabama, Florida, Texas, or USC team. Not in a million years.

If the Hawkeyes played in the SEC, or even the Pac-10 (and I think head coach Kirk Ferentz would admit this as well), Iowa would be 8-4 at best. I’m sorry, but judging teams by their record, rather than the way they play and who they play is borderline insanity.

Saying Iowa is the fourth-best team in America given its near losses on a weekly basis is like saying Ralph Friedgen should be named coach of the year in the ACC. I like the Iowa program, and they do a fine job at being an above-average team year in and year out. Unfortunately for them, that’s all they are this season too: an above-average team in a below average conference.


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