Iowa Football

Buy all the shares of A.J. Epenesa stock you can afford

Also, Bill Walton meets the Cyclones Monday

Bill Walton (Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)
Bill Walton (Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)

If my mind were a green tomato — and who’s to say it isn’t? — it would be a fried green tomato.

Weekend trips to Minnesota, Indiana, Penn State, Purdue and Illinois in a seven-week period have left internal scars. Overnight stays in Columbus (the one in Indiana, not Ohio), Bloomington (the one in Illinois, not Indiana), and Altoona (the one in Pennsylvania, not Iowa) aren’t the prescribed ways to See America First.

There wasn’t a Paris in the bunch. If there had been, it probably would have been Paris, Ill.

What, some people actually have hard jobs and hard lives? OK, never mind. Anyway, as snow started to collect on I-74 late Saturday night near Alpha or Orion or whatever part of the moon I was on, here are a few random thoughts that occurred to me between then and now:

* Iowa vs. Washington in the Holiday Bowl is on multiple sites that project bowl matchups. Which tells us this: It can’t possibly be Iowa vs. Washington in the Holiday Bowl.

Although, that would be attractive for the Hawkeyes. They would get a good opponent with name recognition at a snow-free location. Call it the No Pinstripes Bowl.

The Hawkeyes need to beat Nebraska Friday to have a shot at San Diego. To hear some in Nebraska tell it, the Huskers are on the verge of greatness. They just weren’t quite good enough this year to qualify for the Quick Lane Bowl.

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* If Iowa sophomore defensive end A.J. Epenesa has a public stock offering on himself anytime soon, I’m liquidating my assets and buying as much of his future as I can get.

Epenesa has quickness, instincts, power and presence. Saturday at Illinois, I think I saw three things I’ve never seen before at a college football game, and I’ve been to a few.

One was a 63-0 score. Another was an announced crowd of 33,313 at a Big Ten game. The third was all the big-play things Epenesa did in a two-minute period. A forced fumble, a recovery of that fumble, a return of that fumble for a touchdown, a quarterback sack, and a blocked punt.

You can’t say it enough: That happened in two minutes of game clock. It would have been an utterly fantastic body of work over 60 minutes.

If I can just get a tiny percentage of the profits from all the No. 94 jerseys sold in Eastern Iowa in the next 12 months, I vow to do good works for the rest of my days. And, to learn what it’s like to own a Lamborghini.

* I hope Jeff Brohm doesn’t leave Purdue to coach Louisville.

Louisville is Brohm’s hometown, and the University of Louisville is his alma mater, so there’s that. Home is home.

But if the Big Ten West is to ever be regarded as the East’s equal, it needs Purdue to be good, it needs Nebraska to be good, and it wouldn’t hurt if Minnesota raised its profile.

Wisconsin has carried more than its share of the load in recent years. Iowa has been no slouch and certainly has shown up over the last few years when the opponent was an East power. Northwestern is living large this season.

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The division is a mediocrity, however. A departure by Brohm, who immediately transformed the Boilermakers from bottom-feeders into competitors, would be a setback.

* Northern Iowa made it into the FCS playoffs at 6-5 and has a home game against Lamar Saturday. Incarnate Word, scheduled to play at Iowa State Dec. 1, also made the playoffs and goes to Montana State Saturday.

If Incarnate Word wins, it will play at North Dakota State Dec. 1 and the Iowa State game is off. If you’re the Cyclones, are you rooting for Incarnate Word or Montana State?

By the way, Lamar beat Incarnate Word 27-21 on Oct. 13. It’s a small world.

* Bill Walton will be the color commentator for ESPNU’s telecast of the Iowa State-Arizona men’s basketball game in Maui Monday night, which is wonderful.

“Music is critical in our lives and culture,” Walton once said. “It’s the inspiration that drives us. It’s also the window to our souls. It’s a reflection to who we are, what we stand for and where we’re going.”

You’ll never get that on the Big Ten Network, my friends.

l Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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