Iowa Football

Iowa football's most-interesting 2019 games: No. 12 Miami (Ohio)

MACtion had a nice run, but the fever has broken

Iowa defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson (67) pressures Miami (Ohio) quarterback Billy Bahl during the Hawkeyes' last game against the RedHawks, a 45-21 Iowa win at Kinnick Stadium to start the 2016 season. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson (67) pressures Miami (Ohio) quarterback Billy Bahl during the Hawkeyes' last game against the RedHawks, a 45-21 Iowa win at Kinnick Stadium to start the 2016 season. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Ranking the games of the Iowa 2019 football schedule in terms of being interesting is something I started doing a few years ago (here’s the 2017 example), and it got plenty of disagreement from readers.

I didn’t do it last year. I think I was trying to cut clutter out of my life. But going all minimalist didn’t satisfy my soul, either. Then I discovered frozen lemonade pie, and total consciousness was achieved.

Anyway, as a wise man said, “This is only an exhibition, not a competition. Please, no wagering.”

I’m going to do it here one game at a time on no set schedule this summer, more as an excuse to go off on tangents than worry about if the Hawkeyes’ game at Michigan is more interesting than their game at Wisconsin, or vice versa. There will be no lists of returning starters, no discussions of recoveries from torn anterior cruciate ligaments, no breakdowns of a team’s punt-return defense. There are magazines for that available at places that still sell magazines.

Twelve-act concerts don’t open with the headliner. You have to build. Start with one acoustic guitar playing softly, end with a violin and cello section playing its guts out as the singer is on his or her knees screaming out the last words. So let’s kick this thing off with quiet guitar and the 12th most interesting (all right, the least appealing) game on the 2019 calendar. That would be …

Miami (Ohio) in Iowa City on Aug. 31.

I don’t like August college football, so this game had two strikes against it from the get-go. Were this game on Saturday, Sept. 1, no problem. But Saturday, Aug. 31? No, that absolutely does not work. August is summer. Most of September is technically summer, but we all know the world basically ends the morning after Labor Day.

The other Miami college football team — the one in the place actually called Miami — plays Florida in Orlando on Aug. 24. Which is a ghastly idea. It’s great the two are playing. That they’re doing it on Aug. 24 in Orlando is a crime against humanity. It will be hot as blazes and the stadium is dangerously close to Theme Park Hell.

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South Dakota State is at Minnesota on Thursday, Aug. 29. The next night, Michigan State hosts Tulsa, Purdue is at Nevada, and Wisconsin is at South Florida. I guess I should just be happy there are still games on Saturdays.

By the way, if Wisconsin isn’t careful it could open and close its season in Tampa. That’s a trick even Iowa has never pulled off, and it’s played six games in Tampa since New Year’s of 2004. Six.

Fun fact: Hawaii has played in the Hawaii Bowl six times in that same time period.

I used to be in the tank for the Mid-American Conference. Along with many others who liked crazy sports entertainment in midweek, I bought into MACtion. That fever has broken. No one in the league had a better record than Buffalo’s 10-4 last year, and it had a division champ (Northern Illinois) with an 8-6 overall record.




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When the conversation is non-conference college football schedules, that always brings some fogginess.


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Miami was 6-2 in the MAC last year. It was 6-6 overall. Get the idea?

The RedHawks are winless in their last 14 games against Big Ten opponents, dating to 2003. That doesn’t build the tension for Aug. 31 in Kinnick, does it?

Iowa’s history against the MAC is this: When the Hawkeyes are good, they’re almost always immune to MACtion. When they aren’t good, hang on to something because craziness is a distinct possibility.

Iowa is 14-4 against the MAC since 2000. Western Michigan beat the Hawkeyes in 2000 when Iowa went 3-9, and Iowa lost the season-finale to the same school seven years later to finish 6-6. The Hawkeyes fell to Central Michigan in 2012 when the wheels came off and they went 4-8.

Wouldn’t it be fun if Alabama went 4-8 this season?

The Hawkeyes also lost 30-27 to Northern Illinois to start the 2013 season in what was an unusually entertaining season-opener. That’s when the Huskies were at the height of their powers, so it wasn’t the worst loss in Iowa history.

But most of Iowa-vs.-MAC is like most of Big Ten-vs.-MAC. Might may not make right, but it sure wins more football games.

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However, “more” isn’t all. Last year, the Big Ten was 8-3 vs. the MAC. Purdue, a bowl team that won at Iowa, lost to Eastern Michigan, 20-19.

Rutgers paid Buffalo $900,000 to come to New Jersey and get itself a 42-13 victory. One of the Buffalo players who scored touchdowns was receiver Charlie Jones, who has since transferred to Iowa. Jones had a 53-yard TD reception.

Sometime, I’d like to see a productive Big Ten player up and leave for a Buffalo or Eastern Michigan.

Oh, Akron won at Northwestern last September, 39-34. That’s the same Northwestern that won the Big Ten West, that beat Michigan State in East Lansing, Purdue in West Lafayette, Wisconsin in Evanston, and Iowa in Iowa City.

So, take nothing for granted.

Still, this Miami (Ohio) game should be toes getting dipped in the water for the Hawkeyes and no more. Barring a state-shattering upset, it will be forgotten as quickly as Iowa’s season-opening wins over MAC teams in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2012, 2016 and 2018.

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