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38 Random Thoughts on Iowa (and Purdue)

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We double back this week and hit on a pair of games with our random thoughts.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday night, the Iowa Hawkeyes hosted the Penn State Nittany Lions in a contest of American football in Iowa City. The Nittany Lions emerged victorious, 17-12. I have several thoughts, which are set forth randomly below:

  1. Alright, so you missed me last week. But in my defense, how much is there to really say when Penn State is up 28-0 and closes the game with a 28 point win?
  2. The answer is “not much.” The offense was a bit sloppy in the second half of that win, and it seems pretty clear that the team was running on the same energy as they had the week before against Maryland, got a huge early lead, and immediately relaxed.
  3. I know Twitter’s a terrible reflection on basically everyone, but I was legitimately surprised by the criticisms of the offense. Sure, they didn’t score 50+ on Purdue. On the other hand, everyone who is upset about that should recognize how unrealistic those expectations are.
  4. I mean, if you’re upset now, I can’t imagine what you would have thought in 2004, when Iowa took two safeties on homecoming weekend because they knew we couldn’t even manage to get lucky and break a touchdown.
  5. My parents rented an RV for that game. Huge tailgate. And then watched it end 6-4. They’ve never rented an RV again.
  6. I was really pleased to see how well the team has performed this year so far, given the youth movement afoot. But I’d be lying if I said that I was confident walking into Iowa City last weekend.
  7. Kinnick during the day doesn’t bother me. Kinnick at night is an entirely different experience. It’s a place where dreams go to die.
  8. The difference between good teams and great ones is narrow. In some ways, this game offered the perfect view of the line.
  9. On every college football team’s schedule each year, there are games that are obvious wins and, many times, likely losses. Then there are games that would normally be obvious wins but for very specific circumstances. Kinnick Stadium at night against the Hawkeyes is one of those situations.
  10. For instance, Ohio State has been one of the great teams of the last 15 years. A historic power, sure, but the last 15 years, they’ve basically been a perennial top 5 team.
  11. During that time, Penn State has sometimes been great. More often, though, we’ve been a good team. And every other year, we’ve provided one of the most hostile environments in college football for opposing teams to play in.
  12. The difference between good teams and great ones? Good teams go into hostile environments and lose games. Great teams go into hostile environments and walk out with a win.
  13. There’s no shame in walking into Kinnick at night and losing. Good teams do it all the time. But if you want to be great, if you want to be a real contender, you have to have your hand raised after the bell rings.
  14. Sean Fitz said it last week and it’s been regularly discussed in the wake of this game - Iowa forces every team to play Iowa-style. It takes patience and a lot of smash mouth to take them out on their home turf.
  15. That’s exactly what happened this weekend. Penn State went into Iowa, played an Iowa-style game, and walked out with a victory.
  16. Seeing this team rise to 7th in the polls offers a tremendous amount of respect to Iowa. Iowa is a fine, but flawed, team this year. But everyone knows how difficult it is to play against the spoiler kings in prime time, and everyone gave Penn State credit for doing so accordingly.
  17. I watched Robert Windsor eat 3 fish sandwiches like an animal during that HBO special. This week, I saw Robert Windsor eat 3 Iowa offensive linemen on every play. Plus a quarterback.
  18. Kid looked like Devon Still out there. That was a heck of a performance for the fifth year senior .
  19. Clifford the Big Blue Dog had a rough start to the game. He looks a bit too amped up every week, but gets better as the game goes along.
  20. Still, I don’t think he had as uneven a game as some have suggested. He ended up 12 for 24, but keep in mind he started 0-5. After a tough first quarter, he finished 12 of 19 with a touchdown.
  21. Really two touchdowns...
  22. #eyeroll
  23. Seriously, how many times did we have to score on that drive?
  24. I know we’ve been focused on the Free Moose “score,” but the other touchdowns were called back for ridiculous holding calls.
  25. If that’s holding, then Wisconsin holds every.single.play. Every one of them.
  26. Still, I thought that drive was excellent in showcasing Clifford’s mental state. They score, it gets called back for holding. Clifford shrugs his shoulders and fires a touchdown to Freirmuth instead. That’s impressive.
  27. Some might say he’s got...moxie.
  28. Look out Matt McGloin.
  29. Clifford’s running has been a pleasant surprise. Kid has wheels and when he takes off, it adds an entirely new element to the offense.
  30. But seriously, how Justin Shorter looks great. Can we get him more involved, please?
  31. Lots of hot takes for Noah Cain to be the starter. That’s a waste of an argument.
  32. First of all, he’s the closer. Who cares if he starts as long as he finishes?
  33. Second, we have multiple excellent backs. We should use them.
  34. Third, Cain is fantastic, but not a home run hitter in the traditional sense of the word. We should use Journey Brown and Devyn Ford to try a pop one for chunk yardage or a big play touchdown. That’s a big part of football.
  35. Not super pleased with Ricky Slade’s penchant for retweeting. But I’ll leave it at that.
  36. I’m digging this team. I don’t know if they’re great yet, but I do know that they’re doing the things that great teams do. Let’s see them pull it off over the next few weeks.
  37. It’s [insert time here], and...
  38. We are...