This is a classic example of a place where sports dominate the entertainment category. On gameday, you might hear announcers joke that “you can leave the keys in your tractor” because everyone in Iowa is at the game. Pre-game tailgating is fantastic and the buzz on the streets in Iowa City is all about the team. Many fans point out visiting colors and start their battle cries and chants. Walking up to Kinnick Stadium, you see a beautiful brick façade that lines the outside. Rows of corn greet visitors to the main entrance along with a statue of Hawkeye hero and 1939 Heisman trophy winner, Nile Kinnick.
A less than appetizing start for both Northwestern and Iowa had many questioning the relevance of this game. Both squads had suffered losses to FCS division teams and it appeared as though mediocre was the mark to make this year.
In the fourth quarter, a Badger fan in front of me exclaimed, “I would rather see Iowa’s offense with the ball at their own ten than Wisconsin’s offense with the ball anywhere.” It sure seemed logical – the Badger defense appeared to possess a higher probability of scoring. It was that kind of game.
125th year of Pitt football. 3 wins. 0 losses. 57 varieties. Heinz Field was ready to host a Panther team off to a strong start and primed to take on an Iowa team coming off a horrible home loss to rival Iowa State.
It has been ten years since I last visited Iowa City and despite the frozen temperatures, I was reminded of how fantastic the atmosphere is at Kinnick Stadium. One week after the Hawkeyes’ enormous victory over #3 Penn State, the aftershock still shook the area. It certainly was the hot topic of conversation. At Purdue, the hot topic is coach Joe Tiller’s departure. The Boilermakers aren’t going to a bowl this year, but they sure played like a bowl team…
Electricity bills will be lower in Iowa this weekend seeing that the entire state population including the band made their way to Champaign. Illini fans seemed to be in attendance merely as a diversion until basketball season. That truth became evident when four former Illini basketball stars were honored during the first half at Memorial Stadium. The excitement for those four athletes in street clothes brought on more cheers than the football squad’s performance. Yet, that is the nature of Illinois football right now. The gloomy, overcast skies reflected the emotions of the orange and blue. Head coach Ron Zook in his second season with the Illini is still searching for a conference victory. Upon my visit to the bathroom before the game and listening to swarms of Hawkeye fans screaming their fight song, something gave me the feeling that today wouldn’t be Zook’s day.
I know that Michigan held Northwestern to zero points in the second half last week, but do Wildcats have that short of a memory. Remember your team, Wildcat fans? If not, allow me to help you remember – your team is known for their potent, yard gaining, point scoring, spread ‘em out offense that relentlessly baffles defenses and pulls out thrilling last minute victories. Please print out this description and laminate it. Put it in your billfold or purse and refer to it when another situation arises like that of the Iowa game. I apologize for my rant, but it always has remained a pet peeve of mine when fans give up on their team when there is still a chance for them to come back from behind. Evanston was the scene for this situation this past Saturday.
So much change is developing around Camp Randall Stadium. The historic venue has been undergoing an expensive face-lift intended to expand capacity over 80,000 while adding more luxury press boxes. Can the new changes bring good fortune in the final regular season game? Invitations to New Year’s bowl games hung in the balance as the final conference week commenced. Iowa and Wisconsin only share around one hundred miles worth of border, but it’s enough to develop a sincere hatred for one another. Today’s game only intensifies the discord because the winner gets grabs at a prestigious bowl berth. With both teams coming off convincing victories, confidence saturated both sidelines almost as much as the chilly fog that enveloped Camp Randall Stadium.
Wisconsin has experienced extreme turbulence this season and now finds themselves needing three straight victories over pernicious competition to qualify for a bowl game. For two decades spanning through the seventies, eighties, and most of the nineties, the Hawkeyes have been the impenetrable barrier for Wisconsin. However, the Badgers have reversed the years of depredation and replaced it with four consecutive years of victories over Iowa. A fifth straight would continue to save Wisconsin from its first bowless season since 1995. The improved team from Iowa City lands in Madison under similar circumstances. Their bowl hopes are not nearly as tenuous as the home team, but too many losses could sink their ship.
Perfect is a word that shouldn’t be thrown around that often. However, there is no better word when in those rare moments every word of the script, every choreographed movement, and every musical note is not only right on, but performed effortlessly.