Mike Lantry, 1972
Yesterday was my first time in Iowa City, and now that I have been to 6 of the 11 Big Ten stadiums (and also Notre Dame) for Michigan games, I thought I would throw out my thoughts from the experience, including some comparisons and game observations.
Note: My rankings below are based purely on my opinion and obviously influenced by what my experiences were at each individual campus. Also, in some instances it was very hard to separate 2 or 3 schools. Basically what I'm trying to say is that I don't want this post to piss anyone off.
University of Iowa Campus:
I don't know about you guys, but I love college campuses. Every time I get a chance to visit a school, I make a point to get a feel for the campus. I am obviously biased, but the University of Michigan has the best campus I have ever been to (which is a lot more than the the seven mentioned above). Ann Arbor is the perfect size college town, and the campus itself seamlessly blends right into it. My view on Iowa's campus is that it was very nice, but mostly unspectacular. The town of Iowa City really is in the middle of nowhere, with Cedar Rapids being the biggest thing nearby. And all of the stereotypical jokes about corn, tractors, etc that are associated with Iowa are partially true from what I saw. The campus itself was pretty nice with a lot of the brick and stone buildings that I like and a riverside location. Their Union has nothing on Michigan's but thats the case almost everywhere. Overall ranking amongst Big Ten + ND places I been: Michigan, Wisconsin, ND, Iowa, OSU, Northwestern, MSU.
Pre-game Atmosphere / Tailgating Scene
I've got to be pretty honest here and say that considering it was a night game with Iowa being ranked so high, I was a little disappointed with this part of the Iowa experience. Sure there were a ton of people, with a large number of parking areas that were completely packed, but other than that I felt it was business as usual. Maybe I was expecting too much, but to me it seemed like it easily could have been just an average day game from what I observed. Overall ranking amongst Big Ten + ND places I've been: Wisconsin, OSU, MSU, Iowa, Michigan, ND, Northwestern.
Kinnick Stadium has a reputation for being one of the tougher places to play in the Big Ten, and again I have to say that I was a little disappointed considering where my expectations were. The "blackout" was excellent. The student section was there early, and they were loud. And the stadium itself is aesthetically very nice, if not for it being fairly small. Don't get me wrong, the place got LOUD at times, especially early. But as the game wore on, the crowd really only got up at obviously important moments. I am sure the freezing temperatures and other things played a role in this. But overall, OSU and even Wisconsin seemed to more consistently loud. And I was sitting in the 6th row from the field, just opposite the student section. One thing I will say about Kinnick is that the crowd is extremely close to the players. In the endzone nearest me, the people in the front row seats actually had their feet on the playing surface. Courtside baby! Overall ranking amongst Big Ten + ND places I've been: OSU, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, ND, MSU, Northwestern.
EDIT: One thing I left out was how terrible the loud-speaker music and other jumbotron things were. Absolutely terrible. At one point on the jumbotron, there was a cartoon video of four pick-up trucks racing that obviously ended with the black Iowa one winning. A promotion for corn growers or something like that. Also -1000 for the Iowa band playing the Monday Night Football song (not "Are You Ready for Some Football" but the other one). Thinking of this stuff just dropped Iowa down one spot on my list.
Iowa Fans (Treatment of Opposing Fans)
Not sure how many of you are interested in this portion of my post, but I have to say that Iowa fans were definitely some of the more hospitable I have come in contact with. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy getting ribbed by opposing fans at away games, but some places definitely go too far on occasion (cough OSU cough). We had very little profanity thrown our way, and even the post-game trash talk was minimal. One issue I do have was the running the field thing that I know has already been brought up on this blog. Even the fans around me seemed to be celebrating the win as though they had just won the Big Ten. I just don't understand being that excited when your number 12 ranked team barely escapes at home against an unranked team that is extremely inexperienced. If the roles had been reversed, I would have let out a big WHEW and went back to my apartment feeling very lucky to still be undefeated. That was not the reaction I saw from Iowa fans. Overall ranking amongst Big Ten + ND places I've been (I'm leaving out Michigan here because I have never been to the Big House as an opposing fan obviously): Iowa, Northwestern, ND, Wisconsin, MSU, OSU.
I'm not going to go into too much detail here, but despite the loss I am very encouraged about what I saw last night. In the moments after the game ended, part of me was very happy because the team played pretty well when they weren't making a monumental mistake. The other part of me was extremely disappointed because if we had not made as many monumental mistakes we would have won that game, sliding back into the top 20 and making a January bowl seem very likely.
For the first time since the Western Michigan game, I found myself really liking the way our defense looked at points in the game. Sure they allowed 30 points, but the offense gave them a short field at least twice and the TD that came after the 3rd and 24 conversion is credited to the coaches IMO (from my vantage point it looked like we went into three-man-rush death mode, but correct me if I am wrong).
Offensively, we definitely struggled at points. But our ability to consistently line up and push Iowa off the ball with the running game was what really got me excited. I also enjoyed being re-reminded of how important Brandon Minor is to our team. Watching the physicality of his running from the 6th row was incredible. I hope he can somehow stay healthy for the next 6 games.
Overall, a loss is still a loss. But going forward I feel really good about the rest of the season and the future. I think it's going to be a tough battle to make it to 7+ wins, but I think we can do it based on what I saw in Iowa City. For the first time this year, I feel that PSU and OSU are definitely winnable games. Hope some of this was helpful!
720P MKV h.264 upped by warpet:
- Denard?!? Why? It was "Tate Time"! Why wasn't Tate in the game during Tate Time? Because he was playing like crap on the previous drives he had. Because RR is looking at the longview and has to teach his Freshman QB's to do it the right way. Because he threw an interception in OT last week. Who's to say he wouldn't have done exactly the same thing Denard did? If Tate had been in and thrown a game killing INT two weeks in a row, the same people on here screaming for tate now would have been screaming for denard. Also Denard had just led a successful TD drive under pressure. (personally I was worried we would run out of time, more than we would throw an INT)
- OMG TURNOVERS!! Yeah, that kind of sucked. But Iowa is actually really good at forcing turnovers, so it's not that unexpected. Instead of freaking out about the turnovers, realize that even being -4, we still managed to stay within 2 points of a pretty darn good team. Yes it's frustrating, but it also shows that our players have good resilience to come back from those kind of emotional swings. Last year we woulda folded like superman on laundry day. We're only one year removed from a 3-9 year, you can't expect us to be world beaters just yet. We're young, We're learning, and we're going to get better.
- Why does the O-Line suck??? Uhm, no. No. It just played an awesome game against a pretty awesome D-line. Iowa's D-line was twisting and stunting all night, and the line gave our QB's enough time to win.
- Why can't we cover the TE? That guy meowmeowyaki, (or whatever his name is) is an all Big Ten guy. On his first TD he made an awesome fake block and held it for a long time before leaking out. He gave a great false key to our D guy who was in man coverage. It was a brilliantly designed play. Almost like a screen. And he's been out of the lineup for a few games, so the team didn't get to study much recent film on him. He also catches like 10 balls a game or something ridiculous like that. On his second TD, he was the TE on the other side of the formation where they had been running for like 15 straight plays. we had to sell out on the run just to stop the bleeding. He came all the way across on the bootleg and just got lost. It happens. If we could run to one side for 15 straight plays and then do playaction off of that, it would be deadly too. In fact it was back in the days of Griese to Tuman.
- Zoltan is still awesome. I'd say he won his matchup of All-American punters tonight. He was booming 60 yarders all night. I was afraid he was going to out kick the coverage, but we managed to get the tackles.
- Brandom Graham! I think he had 3 sacks and was a beast in most other respects. He had two bad plays (roughing the kicker, and missing stanzi on a rollout) but neither one of them had an impact on the game. (because of mathews fumble, and the D stopped stanzi short of the 1st down anyway)
- Troy! Seemed to be an upgrade at the corner position. (but yeah, mike williams had a couple of breakdowns)
- Brandon Minor. I don't think he's really healthy yet, but he's a workhorse. He basically carried the whole team on his 2nd TD drive.
- Odoms. Had one drop but is turning into an excellent possession receiver.
- O-line. It's coming together. There was a time when we kept running to the right and blowing people off the ball. That was a nice drive. And we scored 3 rushing touchdowns against a team that hadn't given up a single one in 33 FRICKEN quarters.
- GERG! Continues to deliver even though he only has patchwork talent. Let's see what he can do with a couple more recruiting classes.
- Mouton played MUCH better this week.
- Donovan! Yeah, he's awesome.
Brian wrote this in his Iowa preview, re: Special Teams:
Can I cease saying CATCH THE DAMN BALL? I think so.
The result? A fumbled punt and four other turnovers.
Brian! Don't you know the Karma gods are watching your every move? An indefensible posting decision, I say.
Does anybody know the freezing point of Dilithium? 19 degrees Kelvin?
EDIT: Night games, extra time for fans to get loopy as well.
Of note, I spoke to a Florida fan today who refused to believe that ABC would show the Michigan game at the same time Florida plays LSU. He insisted the Michigan game must be a day or game, or if played at night, have a kickoff of 9 or 10, because of course the world shuts down for the SEC and no one would dare play let alone broadcast football at the same time SEC teams play. SEC fans are unaware of anything outside the conference. Such is life in SEC land.
So, my 12 year-old son enjoys the Muppet victories as much as I do. he asked me today, "Would an Iowa victory get Muppets?" My response - I don't know. They are clearly not a blood rival, but they are ranked #12 and may well be the best ream we've played against so far. So, we decided to ask the MGoBlog community:
Would a road victory at #12 Iowa be Muppet-worthy? Discuss.