Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Good News: Both Iowa and ISU Are Bowl Underdogs

For Iowa and Iowa State, the news is good from Las Vegas.

The Hawkeyes and Cyclones are both underdogs in their football games in a few weeks.

Louisiana State is favored by the oddsmakers to beat Iowa by 7 points in the Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl at Orlando, Fla., and Miami of Ohio is a 3-point favorite to beat Iowa State in the Dec. 28 Independence Bowl at Shreveport, La.

In my opinion, it’s always better to go into a bowl game as the underdog. Iowa and Iowa State are familiar with that role, and I figure they’ll do well if the early betting lines hold.


I’m going to have a little fun today with Tom Kroeschell, Iowa State’s associate athletic director for media relations.

Back in my earlier writing life, I also had some fun with Kroeschell—and then he was only the school’s sports information director.

In those days, Jim Walden was Iowa State’s football coach and the Cyclones weren’t going to any bowl games.

Iowa, however, was beating Iowa State regularly and was going to a bowl game just about every season when Hayden Fry was the coach. That was causing some people in Ames to have an inferiority complex when it came to football.

On the Tuesdays when Walden would hold his press conferences, Kroeschell occasionally couldn’t hold back his emotions. For some reason, he thought the media favored Iowa over Iowa State and he’d find something negative to say about the Hawkeyes,

Funny man Tom would say something like, “Are the Hawks going to the Poulan Weed Eater Bowl this year?”

The Poulan Weed Eater Bowl in Shreveport, La., not only had a strange name, but also ranked at the bottom of the bowl list—even though all coaches try to convince themselves and others that there is no such thing as a bad bowl game.

The Poulan Weed Eater Bowl is now the Independence Bowl, and Iowa State will be making its second trip to the game in four years. The Cyclones lost to Alabama, 14-13, in 2001, when it was called the MainStay Independence Bowl.

So who’s laughing now, Tom? Not you, I’ll bet.


One guy who isn’t laughing is Michael Larkin, a Miami of Ohio senior wide receiver.

Larkin, a senior who holds the NCAA with receptions in 49 consecutive games, and two others were stabbed at 4 a.m. Sunday. His status for the Independence Bowl is uncertain.

He leads Miami with eight receiving touchdowns this season and his 55 catches and 813 yards rank second on the team.


Stewart Mandel of SI.com didn’t have much good to say about the Independence Bowl.

He ranks it last among the 28 bowl games that will be played.

“It’s too bad the Independence is no longer partnered with Poulan Weed Eater,” Mandel wrote. “The organizers could use one to trim this year’s game from their memory.

Mandel calls the Iowa-LSU Capital One Bowl game the seventh-best.

“Two of the game’s most acclaimed coaches, Kirk Ferentz and Nick Saban, battle in what is very likely to be a low-scoring, highly physical chess match,” Mandel said.

Collegefootballnews.com ranks the Independence Bowl No. 22, saying “Iowa State always gets jacked up for a bowl game as its fans travel well, while Miami will try for a big win for the Mid-American Conference and get something to build on for next year……Stars of the show: Iowa State wide receiver Todd Blythe, Miami wide receiver-kick returner Ryne Robinson. The knee-jerk, off-the-cuff initial prediction: Miami 23, Iowa State 21.

Collegefootballnews.com thinks highly of the Capital One Bowl, ranking it the No. 4 game behind the Orange, Liberty and Holiday.

“This should be a fantastic game between two great defensive teams and two that should be in the 2005 preseason top ten,” the website says. “Stars of the show: Iowa quarterback Drew Tate, LSU defensive end Marcus Spears. The knee-jerk, off-the-cuff initial prediction: LSU 17, Iowa 13.”


Some nice things are being written about Iowa quarterback Drew Tate and Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz.

Collegefootballnews.com has named Tate the Big Ten Player of the Year and Ferentz the conference’s coach of the year.

Tate, a sophomore, was ranked No. 1 among the website’s top 30 Big Ten players regardless of position.

Teammate Matt Roth, a senior defensive end, was named the sixth-best player regardless of position and was chosen the No. 2 defensive lineman behind Erasmus James of Wisconsin.

Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway, a junior, was chosen the 12th-best player regardless of position and was the No. 2 linebacker behind A.J. Hawk of Ohio State.

Of Tate, the website said, he “didn’t lead the Big Ten in passing (in fact, he was fourth). Total offense? Fourth in that, too. Passing efficiency? Second. But mere stats don’t go to show just how valuable Tate was in Iowa’s run to a co-Big Ten title.

“Oh, he put up solid numbers, completing 62 percent of his passes for 2,499 yards and 18 touchdowns, and he made his share of sophomore mistakes with 12 interceptions, but considering Iowa needed a M*A*S*H unit for its running backs and finished dead last in America running the ball., Tate was the season’s savior.”

Of Ferentz, the website said, “Considering the lack of able bodies in the backfield and the limited all-around offense, Ferentz gets the Coach of the Year nod for getting this team to jell at just the right time and finish as co-Big Ten champion.”

Michigan’s 45-37 victory in three overtimes over Michigan State was called the best Big Ten game of the season. The worst? Minnesota’s 45-0 romp past Illinois.

The Big Ten’s biggest surprise was Michigan’s freshman backfield. The biggest disappointment was shared by Purdue’s midseason sag, Wisconsin’s losses in the last two weeks to Purdue and Iowa, Minnesota’s flame-out, Michigan’s loss to Ohio State and Ohio State’s overtime loss to Northwestern.

Vol. 4, No. 284
Dec. 7, 2004