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Home / Hlas: Hawkeyes lose pig via slaughter
MINNEAPOLIS - This was the worst.
Forget about whatever happened in Kirk Ferentz's first season as Iowa's head football coach. That was a bad team. Skip the 44-7 loss to Arizona State in 2004, because that was in September and the Hawkeyes not only had time to right the ship, but did so and a lot more in going on to share the Big Ten title.
But this steaming pile of … fudge? In the ninth game of the season with a team that presumably was at least close to good with a 6-2 record? Bringing that kind of performance into a game against Minnesota, where a win could have led to a legitimately big two-game finish against Wisconsin and Nebraska?
'It's very unacceptable,” said Iowa senior defensive tackle Carl Davis.
That was an understatement. This was the worst day in Iowa football under Ferentz.
Sometimes you simply play a team that totally has its act together and can do little wrong, and you lose. That's sports, it happens, and everyone who coaches or plays knows it. That was the Hawkeyes the week before against Northwestern. That was the Gophers Saturday in TCF Bank Stadium to a very large degree.
The sideline catch Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams made to extend what turned out to be a touchdown drive was nothing short of sublime. Some days, the other guys are sublime.
OK, so Iowa needed to be terrific to win this game instead of just good. But they were horrible instead of just so-so. The Democrats had a better week than the Hawkeyes.
Good teams don't give up 51 unanswered points to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Good teams don't get outgained 195 yards to 19 in a quarter, as Iowa did in the second period when it allowed 28 points.
Good teams don't give up almost 300 rushing yards in a game, and don't allow 212-plus in three of their last four. Good teams have the muscle and speed and schemes to avoid getting run over and run past all game long.
Afterward, Ferentz made it clear he felt a lot of this had to do with the team getting puffy after it treated Northwestern they way it got treated by the Gophers. That's a convenient excuse. But does it really apply here?
It's Game 9. You're playing, presumably, to stay in contention for the Big Ten West title. You haven't done enough this season to be fat or sassy. You already knew what humble felt like, and not very long ago.
No, this was an ordinary team that did a Nik Wallenda high wire act in a couple of its early-season victories. It took advantage of mediocre Big Ten competition in compiling a 3-1 league mark, and was totally outplayed in the second-halves of losses against Iowa State and Maryland, neither of whom will have their stories of this season adapted for stage and screen.
It was understandable people would be overly wowed by Iowa after the 48-7 pounding of Northwestern. I'll go to the head of the line on that. If the knee-jerkiness in the other direction today turns out to be just as wrong, well, won't that be something?
The Hawkeye players' answers were no more in sync off the field than they were on it. Except for the frustration and dejection, that is.
'We came out ready to play today,” wide receiver Tevaun Smith said.
'We weren't ready to play,” said offensive tackle Brandon Scherff.
'I feel like we came out with energy,” Davis said. 'In the pregame I think we were all there. Then stuff started happening.”
Stuff happened, all right.
'As a competitor, I think it sucks,” said senior defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat. 'It pisses me off. Because I know we wanted to win, we came prepared, and they fought today and showed they wanted it more and we didn't. That's why the score was the way it was.
'We had a great game plan, a great week of practice, every single day. We just didn't execute.”
Execution. One of the best quotes in football history was when John McKay coached the Tampa Bay Bucs in their infancy. After a loss, McKay was asked about his team's execution. 'I'm in favor of it,” he said.
But the only laughter here Saturday came from those in maroon-and-gold as they toted a metal pig from Iowa's sideline to Minnesota's locker room. The trunk that transported Floyd of Rosedale here went back to Iowa City empty. So did the team that had accompanied the pig up here.