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COLUMN: Cy-Hawk rivalry game was a train wreck

September 11, 2012
By Troy Banning - Sports Editor (sports@freemanjournal.net) , The Daily Freeman Journal

A calamity of follies: In four words, that pretty much sums up Saturday's Cy-Hawk rivalry game between Iowa State and Iowa at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

Look, I'm not here to blow smoke. I'm not going to wax poetically about a football game that, unless you are blind, you realize was the sporting version of a 50-car pileup on Interstate 80. No amount of stylized words will turn that clunker into an instant classic.

The better team won the game - it's as simple as that. Iowa State's 9-6 victory could have, and probably should have, been something more like 24-6 had the Cyclones not been disastrous when they reached the red zone.

Article Photos

AP photo by Conrad Schmidt
ISU players (from left) Jeremiah George, Jeff Woody and David Irving carry the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series trophy off the field in Iowa City on Saturday. The Cyclones won the annual instate battle, 9-6.

ISU quarterback Steele Jantz again proved that he, and not Iowa signal caller James Vandenberg, is this state's No. 1 guy under center. He was sharp, particularly early on when he completed his first 10 passes, and he spent the afternoon dissecting the Hawkeye secondary. Of course, it helped that he could have pitched a tent and started a camp fire in the pocket. Iowa's defensive line was on the field, but You, Me and Dupree could have offered a more significant pass rush.

Seriously, I can think of only one time where Jantz was forced to evacuate the pocket, and he picked up 15 yards and a key first down late in the game on the play. Otherwise he was on an island, stoically going through his progressions until he found someone open down the field. And he always found someone open.

Like I said, this should have been a blowout. But two fumbles inside the 15-yard line and that boneheaded interception at the goal line - did Jantz momentarily go color blind and think Iowa linebacker James Morris was wearing cardinal and gold? - late in the fourth quarter ensured that Cyclone Nation would be biting its finger nails until the bitter end.

Following Morris' pick, which he returned to near midfield, I had a momentary thought that Iowa would somehow win this game that it so didn't deserve. But after watching the entire thing unfold while peeking out between my fingers, I'll admit that it was a cynical thought.

Here was my thinking: Iowa will go down and score, win, and the Hawkeye student section will storm the field.

Ugh.

If that scenario had played out, it would have single-handedly been the most embarrassing moment in the history of college football.

But Iowa wide receiver Don Shumpert bungled a laser-like throw from Vandenberg that hit him in the worst place - his hands - on a fourth-down call, and in the closing moments Cyclones' heartbeat linebacker Jake Knott made the play of the game, tipping a Vandenberg pass high into the air before plucking it out of the sky for the game-ending interception.

Iowa State 9, Iowa 6.

Yuck.

Where both teams go from here is up for much debate.

In the ISU camp, head coach Paul Rhoads succinctly stated that "a win is a win is a win." What else could he say? He knew his team was superior, played poorly for stretches, and hung on by the skin of its teeth.

But Rhoads has the pieces in place to build. Jantz is an elusive and dangerous quarterback, and he's got quality running backs in James White and Shontrelle Johnson.

Knott and fellow all-Big 12 linebacker A.J. Klein won't allow the Cyclone defense to slip significantly, although ISU will get a refresher course in what big-time college football offense looks like once conference play gets underway.

The more pressing questions are housed in the Iowa locker room. And, quite honestly, I don't know if head coach Kirk Ferentz will find any answers this season.

This Hawkeye team is the most blah group I've seen since Ferentz's early days roaming the sideline in Kinnick. His first team in 1999 went 1-10, and in 2000 the Hawkeyes were 3-9. Can you honestly say 3-9 is far-fetched after what you witnessed on Saturday?

I don't know how much blame you can lay at the feet of new offensive coordinator Greg Davis either. Oh sure, his play calling on Saturday made former coordinator Ken O'Keefe's schemes look revolutionary, but it's hard to give the appearance that you're driving a Ferrari when everyone can see that it's really a Ford Focus.

Iowa State didn't do anything special defensively. Most of the day, the Cyclones were comfortable playing Kennan Davis - Iowa's best receiver - one-on-one on the perimeter with no safety help. And how many times did Davis beat the coverage? If you say once, I'd tell you to subtract one.

Iowa's running game was non-existent as well, although how hard is it to stop the run when the only plays called are stretch to the left and stretch to the right?

So let's summarize the Hawkeyes: The running game is bad, the passing game is bad, the defensive line couldn't put pressure on my grandma, and the secondary continues to play eight to 10 yards off the line of scrimmage even when the opponent - Iowa State, cough, cough - continually throws short three- and four-yard passes.

Now find me six wins on Iowa's schedule that would possibly get it to another bowl game. Yeah, I couldn't do it either.

So congratulations, Iowa State fans. This is indeed your state for one more year.

And beware, Iowa fans. I'm afraid the ride is only going to get bumpier.

 
 

 

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