We are all connected, which is why we should be nicer to each other.
Penn State’s football team defeated Pittsburgh Saturday in State College Saturday, 33-14. Last year, Pitt beat the Nittany Lions in Pittsburgh, 42-39.
After this year’s meeting of the state rivals, Penn State Coach James Franklin said “I know last year for their win it was like the Super Bowl, but for us this was just like beating Akron.”
That wasn’t nice, to Pitt or Akron.
Penn State’s loss to Pitt a year ago kept it out of the College Football Playoff, seeing how the Lions won 11 games, including the Big Ten championship game. So maybe, just maybe, Franklin harbored some resentment toward the Panthers.
Here are where the connections come into play, at least for someone writing this in Iowa:
Akron, which had its name dragged through the shade Franklin was throwing at Pitt, lost 52-0 at Penn State the week before. Akron is Iowa State’s next opponent.
Penn State, meanwhile, is Iowa’s foe next Saturday at Kinnick Stadium. It will be a battle of 3-0 teams playing their Big Ten openers, and whomever wins the game will have taken a big step toward having a satisfying season.
Are we to assume Penn State beats Georgia State and Iowa defeats North Texas this week at home? If either doesn’t happen, the world will spin off its axis.
That’s no attempt to be unkind toward Georgia State or North Texas. Georgia State played in the Cure Bowl just two seasons ago, but has lost 10 of its last 13 games since and is 0-1 this year after losing its opener to Tennessee State, an FCS program.
It’s just 97 days until the next Cure Bowl, by the way.
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As for North Texas, we can’t help but remember the Mean Green lost at Iowa two years ago, 62-16.
UNT lost at SMU Saturday, 54-32. It trailed 54-17 early in the fourth quarter. Which leads one to believe the Mean Green may not quite be ready to successfully compete at Iowa even though they were invited to last year’s Heart of Dallas Bowl with a 5-7 record that became 5-8 after they lost to Army for the second time in two months.
Those are facts, not insults. We’re striving for kindness here, Mr. James Franklin.
This is all a long and winding way of trying to address this week, which would appear to be the least dramatic one on Iowa’s schedule.
It’s Hangover Week in the state, especially given the ringer everyone was put through during Iowa’s 44-41 win at Iowa State Saturday. Unlike the Hawkeyes, Iowa State must go on the road. Akron, better known for LeBron James than its college football team, awaits the Cyclones.
Matt Campbell coached at Toledo before going to Ames. He knows how Mid-American Conference teams get fired up for games against Power Five conference squads, having beaten Arkansas in 2015.
“I think we’re going to find out a whole lot about who we are next week and we’re able to respond to this,” Campbell said after the Iowa game.
As for the Hawkeyes, they need to move on without injured senior offensive tackle Ike Boettger, which hurts. Boettger is a third-year starter and he’s good.
Iowa got through its two-game gauntlet of Wyoming and Iowa State without a scratch on its record, something that was no sure thing two weeks ago. It has no reason not to win comfortably Saturday. Whether it’s a crisp performance or not is the only question.
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Then comes Penn State. As much as Iowa savors its win over Michigan last November, next week’s game against the Nittany Lions will be its most significant since it closed the 2015 season with the Big Ten title game and Rose Bowl.
James Franklin will try to tell you no one game is more important than another. We know better. This week is to be endured. Next week is a whole different story.