I don’t give advice. Never. And I never will.
Now that we’ve established that without a trace of a doubt, here’s a piece of advice:
Question everything. Question authority. Question your president, senators, congresspeople, governor, mayor, anyone who makes decisions that affect where you live.
Question your parents. Question your children. Question your pets.
Question your butcher, your baker, your candlestick maker. Question yourself about why you have a personal candlestick maker.
And, oh yes, question the media.
Of course, I don’t give advice and never will, so don’t question me. Well, maybe just this once. Because my No. 7 on the list of Iowa’s most-interesting football games in 2019 is …
Penn State, Oct. 12 at Kinnick Stadium
How can this be? For one thing, it’s Penn State. How many opponents that come into Kinnick Stadium are considered national programs? This year, there is one. It is Penn State.
For another thing, the Iowa-Penn State games of the last two years have been captivating. Two years ago in Kinnick, the Nittany Lions needed a last-second, 7-yard touchdown pass for a 21-19 win despite outgaining the Hawkeyes by 579 yards to 273. Had Iowa held on, it would have been one of the great rope-a-dope wins of all-time. Not Muhammad Ali over George Foreman great, but you get the idea.
Never have I attended an individual football performance better than Saquon Barkley’s that night with his 211 yards rushing and 94 receiving. That he averaged just 17.7 yards on three kickoff returns was a triumph for Iowa’s special teams.
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Last year, Iowa fell 30-24 at Penn State in a rock-em, sock-em affair. It wasn’t an artistic game, but football sometimes is artful and other times is just raw survival, and the latter can be fascinating, too. Hawkeye quarterback Nate Stanley was picked off at the Penn State 2-yard line with 3:18 left, and the Lions got another defensive stop at the end of the game.
So why wouldn’t I just take it on faith that this year’s Penn State-Iowa game would be one of the most interesting on the Hawkeyes’ schedule? That’s where you have to do the questioning, not that I have a reasonable answer.
Iowa probably needs to win this game. It comes the week after the Hawkeyes play at Michigan. If they lose in Ann Arbor, they can’t come home and fall to Penn State and expect to be the West Division champion. It could still happen, but that would put Iowa at 1-2 in the West (assuming it beats Rutgers at home in September, which it will) with road games still left against Northwestern, Wisconsin and Nebraska.
All of those are still to be ranked in my top six of Iowa’s most-interesting games, by the way. That’s why I don’t have Penn State in the top six. The games with division foes count double. You win and they lose, or vice versa. Northwestern’s win at Iowa last year may have counted triple for the Wildcats, though I can’t find math to support that.
Now, if either Barkley or quarterback Trace McSorley were still with Penn State, I’d have this game ranked near the top of the interesting list. The non-Iowa player I’m most looking forward to see this season is … I don’t know.
Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor? Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson? Northwestern linebacker Paddy Fisher?
It might be Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy. We’ll see.
That’s the thing about lists like that, or lists like mine picking Iowa’s most-interesting games. They’re nonsense. They’re good for discussions of little importance, and that’s all. Every year — every single year — things happen and players emerge that no one saw coming, and few of us ever stand up and say “My preseason lists/predictions/rankings were totally bogus!”
I’ll say it now. Calling Penn State the seventh-most interesting game on Iowa’s schedule is totally bogus! But there are six games I like better. Right now, anyway.
Do people still say “bogus,” by the way?