Iowa Football

Nebraska, Iowa, everybody: Hype is part of the game

Nebraska's infatuation with Frost is silly only to the other side of the Missouri

Scott Frost (Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports)
Scott Frost (Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports)

Back in June, a Las Vegas sports book posted over/under numbers on 2018 regular-season win totals for college football teams.

For instance, the number on Maryland was 4.5 wins. If you bet the over, you won because the Terrapins have five victories.

The winners and losers on those who bet on Iowa will be determined Friday because the Hawkeyes’ number was 7.5, and they take a 7-4 record into their regular-season finale against Nebraska.

That in itself is of interest only to degenerate gamblers. But I use that number to note this: Of 18 Iowa-based media people HawkeyeNation.com asked to predict Iowa’s 2018 record in August, no one had the Hawkeyes under eight wins.

Ten of them picked an 8-4 record, which looks pretty astute right now. Five, myself included, said 9-3. Three went with 10-2.

Some of us seemed to see something that didn’t end up being quite there, didn’t we?

Hey, it happens. Everyone is entitled to be wrong about trivial things. However, some of us Iowa media mopes like me who had slightly overinflated expectations about the Hawkeyes would have you believe there is a bias in the Nebraska media toward Huskers football.

From one state to the east, the hiring of Scott Frost as the Huskers’ coach and the months after Frost’s return seemed like one long parade down Lincoln’s O Street. It was as if a combination of Tom Osborne, Warren Buffett and Father Flanagan had arrived to lead the Huskers back to the football glories that have eluded them for the last two decades.

We in Iowa sat back and snickered at the hero-worship and the hype. OK, but ...

What if the Hawkeyes had staggered to 4-8 last season and closed it by losing, 56-14, at home to Nebraska? What if Iowa had won a share of the national championship 20 years earlier that remained the most-recent of its five national titles, and the beloved quarterback of that fabled team was coaching Central Florida to an unbeaten season? What if UCF had a dynamic offense that was averaging 48 points per game?

Here’s what: Everyone who rooted for Iowa or covered Iowa in the media would have said no price is too high to get that man back to Iowa City. We would have suggested renaming Melrose Avenue after him. We would have written books about him, maybe even created a musical about him and given it a weeklong run at Hancher Auditorium.

And all that would have been before the coach had even accepted the Iowa job.

Look, we’re Iowa and Nebraska. We’re twin sons of different farmers. If you’re from Chicago and you drive to Denver, you probably won’t have long discussions in the car about the contrasts between the two states.

We can and often do dive off the deep end when it comes to our college football teams, in Nebraska and in Iowa. Which makes us no different from Alabama or Texas or Ohio or lots of places.

But the view from 30,000 feet this November is Nebraska and Iowa are both football flyover country. Neither will be around next weekend when the conference championship games are held in all the Power Five conferences.

Friday’s game is 4-7 against 7-4, and has little to offer 48 other states. Unless you made an over/under wager on the Hawkeyes in the summer.

The results of the preseason bets on Nebraska already have been determined. The Huskers’ over/under number was 6. If you bet the over, you lost.

How anyone could have dreamed the Huskers would be slow getting out of the blocks with Frost as coach is an unimaginable concept that — no, let’s not mock. Had the roles been reversed, we’d have been just as gung-go in Iowa a few months ago.

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Next year, of course, the Hawkeyes and Huskers will play each other on Black Friday for the Big Ten West title and to keep national title hopes alive. Whatever the over/under numbers are on both come June, bet the farm on the over.

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

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