INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
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Iowa football’s tradition of not scheduling nonconference spine-tinglers continues with Tuesday’s news the Hawkeyes will host Middle Tennessee State on Sept. 28, 2019
MTSU says it’s getting $1,550,000 for the game. That’s only $450,000 less than Sergio Garcia earned at the Masters Sunday, and Garcia won that tournament.
I can’t tell if Middle Tennessee State is now calling itself Middle Tennessee, or what. I think it’s “Middle Tennessee” in larger words, “State University” in smaller words.
The logo is “MT.” I wonder if they realize when you say “MT” out loud it sounds like “Empty.”
It’s located in Murfreesboro no matter what, and that’s one of the more fun names of university towns. Say it with me. Murfreesboro.
I’m not knocking MTSU football because it’s actually respectable. But respectable doesn’t make the heart beat faster. No one ever circled a date in red because someone or something respectable was coming to town.
Here are the other nonconference teams scheduled for Kinnick Stadium visits in these next three seasons:
2017: Wyoming, North Texas
2018: Northern Illinois, Iowa State, Northern Iowa
2019: Miami (Ohio), Middle Tennessee State
Welcome to the tingle-free zone. Wyoming was 8-5 last season and has a far more proven quarterback in Josh Allen than whomever Iowa uses at that position in Game 1. But Wyoming has to do a lot of winning to shed its history of being Wyoming.
North Texas got drilled at Kinnick in 2015, 62-16. The Mean Green went to the Heart of Dallas Bowl with a 5-7 record last season, and returned to Denton with a 5-8 mark after losing to Army.
Northern Illinois had a great five-year stretch from 2010 to 2014 that included an Orange Bowl appearance, 11-plus wins in each of those seasons, and a 30-27 triumph at Iowa in 2013. But the Huskies are 13-13 over the last two years.
Miami (Ohio) lost at Iowa to start last season, 45-21, and began the year with six losses. It then won its next six games before losing 17-16 to Mississippi State in the St. Petersburg Bowl.
Conference USA’s Middle Tennessee State was 8-5 in 2016, and hasn’t had a losing season in the last five. It also never was better than 8-4 in that time.
Last year, it won at Missouri, 51-45. It also lost 47-24 at Vanderbilt. It beat Florida Atlantic in its regular-season finale, 77-56 (77-56!), then ended the season with a 52-35 Hawaii Bowl loss to Hawaii. Of all the teams to bump into Honolulu!
So, to steal from my friend Scott Long (a terrific stand-up comedian who released a CD called “Good Dad ... Not a Great Dad”), good program ... not a great program.
Just the way Iowa likes them before the Big Ten starts.
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