Only 12 of the 52 weeks in a year have scheduled college football games for Team X or Team Y, and rarely do all 12 go as desired.
So when one of those dozen days goes right, they should be savored for a little while. Saturday was such a day for the two major-college teams in Iowa, when both scored 48 points on the road and smiled all the way home.
Iowa’s 48-31 win over Minnesota was no upset, but it also was no cakewalk. Still, it was the Hawkeyes’ most-convincing victory over the Gophers of their four straight wins over their northern neighbors.
Though you saw some young Minnesota players do some nice things, the two teams aren’t on the same plane. Were it not for two Iowa turnovers inside its 10-yard line (making three in two games), this would have been a blowout.
The Hawkeyes had so many good statistics, it starts to make you wonder how this could have been a 31-24 game midway through the third quarter.
Five sacks. Four interceptions. Limiting Minnesota to 320 yards, and just 86 rushing. Two kickoff returns for an average of 41.5 yards. Scoring on all five red zone visits, and getting touchdowns from four of them.
There’s more. Five sustained touchdown drives. The conversions of 10 of 19 third downs and both of their fourth-down tries. The holding of the Gophers to 3-of-11 in third down-conversions.
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This was what Iowa needed after losing to Wisconsin and waiting out its bye week, going two full weeks with defeat the freshest taste in their mouths. There have been a few Hawkeye teams that came to TCF Bank Stadium and crumbled. This year’s is not one of them.
The road goes another direction this week, to Indiana. It’s a second-straight trip to nowhere special, football-wise. That doesn’t mean it won’t be hard, but it’s a game genuinely good teams do win. So, it has to be rinse and repeat to get to what the 4-1 Hawkeyes should get, a 6-1 record to take to Penn State.
Meanwhile, perhaps the most-shocking thing about Iowa State’s 48-42 win at Oklahoma State is that it somehow didn’t seem all that shocking.
Matt Campbell’s Cyclones beat a ranked team at the ranked team’s home stadium? Well, yeah. Oklahoma in 2017. Memphis in 2017. And now, a 48-42 win at Oklahoma State.
Hey, Iowa State did it with a quarterback coming out of nowhere? Well, yeah. Kyle Kempt at Oklahoma, 2017. And now, first-year freshman Brock Purdy.
The Cyclones beat out Alabama — yes, that Alabama — in landing Purdy of the Perry High Pumas in Gilbert, Ariz. Purdy passed for 4,405 yards and 57 touchdowns last year, and rushed for 1,016 yards and 10 TDs. He ran for 131 yards in the state championship game.
Campbell decided Saturday was the day to unleash Purdy on the Big 12, and the 18-year-old completed all but five of his 23 passes for 318 yards and touchdowns to four different receivers. And, he rushed 19 times for 84 yards and a TD.
It was as if Purdy were still playing against Desert Vista or Boulder Creek or Mountain Pointe instead of a Top 25 college team.
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Iowa State’s defense gave up yards and points against the Cowboys’ talented playmakers, but also had seven sacks and 16 tackles for losses.
The ISU defense deserves to be on a team that’s 3-2 or 4-1 instead of 2-3. Iowa got just 13 points and 271 yards at home against the Cyclones. No one including Wisconsin has been as imposing defensively against the Hawkeyes.
But Iowa State’s offense was hard to watch at Kinnick, and hard to watch at TCU when the Cyclones lost 17-14. This had the look of an out-of-kilter, frustrating season.
Maybe it will still be just that. Maybe not. After playing Iowa, Oklahoma and TCU, the Cyclones weren’t beaten down. Saturday night’s home game against unbeaten West Virginia has a lot more juice to it than it did a few days ago.
Iowa and Iowa State both took care of business on the road, and both scored 48 points in doing so. Successful and entertaining? You’ll take that on any given Saturday.
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