Warning: This column could be suspended because of lightning in any given paragraph.
Incredibly, something is bigger than college football. It’s nature. Except in Alabama, of course.
Foul weather fouled things up football-wise Saturday night in central Iowa and Nebraska. Lightning caused cancellations of the South Dakota State-Iowa State and Akron-Nebraska games.
Today’s essay was to be about the rarest of ISU-Iowa games, one in which both teams were coming off bowl wins followed by strong season-opening performances leading into their state-rivalry shootout. But we must postpone the hype for a day because of lightning.
Iowa held up its end Saturday with suitable weather and a 33-7 win over Northern Illinois. If all their future halves are like their second half against the Huskies, the Hawkeyes should be able to win the Big Ten title game on the first Saturday of December without interruption. Unless lightning or Russians knock out the power at Indianapolis’ indoors Lucas Oil Stadium.
Meanwhile, Iowa State jumped on South Dakota State with a 55-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Kempt to Deshaunte Jones. But before five minutes of game time had elapsed, lightning crashed the party.
Instead of 55 more minutes of fun, it was a night of aggravation for everyone at Jack Trice Stadium. Some might suggest it tilts the Kinnick Stadium field in Iowa’s favor this Saturday.
The Hawkeyes are the team that got through a balky first half and got a lot of good experience and good feels. After gearing up to play a game, the Cyclones didn’t get out of the garage.
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But it was no one’s fault, unless you blame ISU Athletics Director Jamie Pollard for scheduling the game at night. Like 33 other games Saturday involving FBS teams.
Question: Is there more lightning than in decades past, or is it just a case of humans being more sophisticated and cautious when it comes to tracking it?
The latter is obviously true. But weather delays in major-college football were once as rare as a coach saying “I can answer your specific question about the game that just ended instead of waiting to look at the tape.”
Saturday had more flashes of light around America than you’d see on a July 4 plane ride on a cloudless night. Several hours earlier before the Iowa State and Nebraska delays/cancellations, lightning delayed games at Ohio State and Maryland.
The West Virginia-Tennessee game in Charlotte, N.C., had a delay due to lightning. So did the Richmond-Virginia and Old Dominion-Liberty games in Virginia. In North Carolina, East Carolina’s home game against North Carolina A&T was postponed to Sunday.
In Colorado Springs, the Stony Brook-Air Force game had two stoppages because of lightning.
This isn’t a 2018 thing. Iowa waited out weather delays at Arizona State in 2004, at Iowa City in 2011, and at Indiana in 2012. Iowa State’s home game against Kansas last year started late because of a severe thunderstorm.
But what happened Saturday with Iowa State and Nebraska both unable to play their games at all seems pretty freakish. It makes for ticklish challenges when it comes to the Cyclones and Huskers trying to squeeze another game on the schedule if it’s even possible.
Naturally, there’s a solution. Have the Cyclones play the Huskers on Dec. 1 at a time that doesn’t conflict with that day’s Big 12 and Big Ten championship games.
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Play it at Lincoln because Nebraska has 30,000 more seats than Iowa State, split the gate in half, and have Nebraska cover ISU’s travel expenses. Just call me King Solomon.
Should one team or both qualify for their leagues’ title contest, c’est la vie. You obviously cancel the ISU-Nebraska game, and schedule future Labor Day weekend games in the daytime to give yourself more time to handle weather delays.
Should lightning, tornadic activity or a plague of wasps prevent Saturday’s Iowa State-Iowa 4 p.m. game from being played, someone else can figure out this stuff.
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