Sunday, September 04, 2005

Beware, Hawkeye Fans: Iowa State Won't Play That Poorly Saturday

Iowa City, Ia. -- Well, look at it this way.

Iowa State won’t play that badly again next Saturday, and it’s hard for me to believe that Iowa will perform any better than it did yesterday.

I mean, those quarterbacks won’t be completing 19 of 20 passes every week, you know.

Consequently, I think the Hawkeyes-Cyclones game at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames still has a chance to be competitive.

The oddsmakers have installed Iowa as only a 7-point favorite, so it's obvious they're not going to be fooled by the Hawkeyes' hammering of Ball State--which one veteran press box observer labeled "one of the worst teams I've ever seen"--or by Iowa State's 32-21 sleepwalk past Division I-AA Illinois State.

I figure Iowa State's athletic department doesn't have any thought of bringing Jim Criner—or his game plan—back to Ames this week, so I’m not expecting the Clones to get blitzed, 51-10, 59-21 or 57-3, again.

I don’t think ABC-TV will have any need to shift viewers in this state to the North Carolina-Georgia Tech game in the third quarter because Drew Tate and the Hawkeyes are hanging a 60-0 drubbing on the Clones.

If I know Dan McCarney, I’m thinking Iowa State’s practices aren’t going to be fun places to be in the next several days. I know how deeply he cares about the Iowa State-Iowa rivalry and I know he’s a former Hawkeye player and assistant coach.

So I’m absolutely certain the Cyclones will be ready physically and mentally to tee it up with an Iowa team that opened its season yesterday with a 56-0 victory over Ball State. Let 1970 Ball State graduate David Letterman make jokes of his alma mater’s pitiful team the rest of the season. McCarney has plenty of other things on his plate.

Iowa’s players expect to get Iowa State’s strongest shot in a game that starts at 2:30 p.m.

“Obviously, Iowa State is a great team,” Hawkeye linebacker Chad Greenway said. “They have lots of returning players with experience. It will be a huge challenge for us. It’s a road game, and we’re looking forward to it. They’ll definitely give us their best effort.”

Just exactly the way Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz told him to say it, right?

No bulletin board material there.

Greenway did make those comments before Iowa State tried every way to lose to Illinois State, but came out an 11-point winner whether it wanted to or not Saturday night at Ames. But he’d probably have said the same things even if knew what the final score was going to be.

When Iowa and Iowa State are matched up, the players are always nice to each other. At least before the game.


I saw Iowa athletic director Bob Bowlsby in the Kinnick Stadium press box early in the last half of Saturday’s game.

He was all smiles. Iowa was leading, 49-0, and there was money in the bank. An all-time record crowd of 70,585 was in the stadium.

“I like this kind of score over the alternative,” Bowlsby said. “I can remember when we were losing, 42-0, at halftime of a game at Penn State some years back. I think you were there, too.”

“I probably was, but I’m trying to forget it,” I said. “I think you’ve got the right guy hired for the coaching job now.”

“He’s doing all right,” Bowlsby said of Ferentz.


It was a tough homecoming for Ball State quarterback Warren Suess, who came off the bench to complete five of 12 passes for 56 yards.

Suess is the son of Phil and Mary Suess of Cedar Rapids. Phil Suess, who played at Dowling of West Des Moines, was Iowa’s quarterback in Hayden Fry’s first season in 1979.

Warren, a redshirt freshman at Ball State, quarterbacked Washington of Cedar Rapids to a 12-1 record two years ago. The loss was to Valley of West Des Moines in the state 4-A high school championship game.

He had been in Kinnick Stadium a number of times, so didn’t seem to think it was any big deal to be there again yesterday.

“I thought Warren did some good things against Iowa,” Hoke said.


I received this e-mail during the game from a Des Moines man:

“I’ve been watching the Iowa-Ball State ‘game’ on TV. Why in hell is the Kinnick turf so lousy? Have they not had all summer in which to grow grass?

“You ought to give ‘em hell about that turf. Inexcusable!”

[OK, I’ll give ‘em hell. I agree that the grass looked like the early-November variety. I know the summer of 2005 was a dry one in eastern Iowa and I know there’s been lots of work going on at the stadium, but I can’t figure out why the sprinklers weren’t turned on full-blast in July and August. Indeed, the field looked pretty sick].


Speaking of things that are looking pretty sick, how about Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma football team?

That loss yesterday to Texas Christian made it seem that the Sooners were still having a hangover from the clobbering they took from Southern California in the national championship game last January.

[And to think I picked South Division champion Oklahoma to play North Division champion Iowa State in the Big 12 Conference playoff game in December]!

I guess we’ll find out this season if ol’ Bobby still has the magic touch.


So it was Wisconsin beating Bowling Green, 56-42. You don’t suppose Barry Alvarez wants to rethink naming defensive coordinator Bret Bielema the Badgers’ next head coach, do you?


To all you Notre Dame haters: It looks like new coach Charlie Weis might know what he’s doing. And not just because he’s got four Super Bowl rings. On the other hand, don’t forget that the guy he beat, 42-21—Pittsburgh’s Dave Wannstedt—has the reputation of not being able to coach his way out of a cardboard box. So don’t order tickets to the national championship game yet.


It was good to see former Iowa player Mike Reilly [he lettered in 1961, 1962 and 1963] in the press box elevator at Kinnick Stadium.

“Are you still working?” he asked.

“Just playing,” I said. “Always having fun.”

I told Reilly I enjoyed his commentary on the Drake-Northern Iowa telecast Thursday night. It reminded me of his work when he teamed with Ron Gonder on WMT-radio broadcasts of Iowa games a number of years ago.

In those days, I thought Reilly provided outstanding analysis and recapped a game as well as anyone.

“I hope to do occasional TV work in the future,” he said.


Prediction: Iowa 35, Iowa State 21 [Oh, all right, I changed my mind over the summer]!

Vol. 4, No. 360
Sept. 4, 2005