Season on the Brink
Four games into the 2012 Iowa football season, the Hawkeyes find themselves in a precarious position.
While many expected growing pains this year, few in any felt Iowa would be 2-2 after four games yet that is the reality they face.
Central Michigan beat Iowa 32-31 this week in a game I thought was a lock. I couldn’t find any prognosticator in the country who picked Iowa to lose this game. Not one, and I know where to look. Iowa was a double-digit favorite in this game and lost, something we’ve seen a few too many times.
Mark Weisman turned in one of Top Eight rushing performances in Iowa history, his 27 carry, 217 yard and three touchdown affair. That’s exactly eight yards per carry.
Iowa has now lost a game in each of the last two seasons where it had a running back run for at least 217 yards. That almost never happens, yet its happened to Iowa twice in its last 10 or 11 games.
The offense put up 430 yards in this game but was still misfired at times when it was set up on a short porch; they ran just 53 plays. CMU scored 32 points but there were three possessions where they got three instead of seven when they had marched the ball into the Iowa redzone or started there after a turnover.
Iowa was also very undisciplined today, getting flagged nine times for 106 yards. Some of those were simply bad calls. However, do you really need a cleanly officiated game to beat Central Michigan at home? If you do, it still points to larger issues.
This team has them and they isn’t a game remaining on the schedule that you feel good about. It almost feels like the 2007 season, but worse in this way; four games into that season, people were still somewhat optimistic. You are going to have to look high and low to find an optimist right about now. That 2007 team lost to Western Michigan in the regular season finale, so the only consolation in that loss is that the season was over. This team has eight more games remaining and while they can still improve, you feel the odds of even a .500 season are starting to look long. Given how favorable this year’s schedule was, that’s not a good thing.
I don’t get angry over the outcome of sporting events the way I did when I was a teen or an immature twenty-something. Some folks are angry right now, I’d say I am disappointed.
Yet when I look back at what I thought about this Iowa defense all spring and summer and juxtapose that against my preseason prediction, I wonder what happened to that pragmatist. I think many of us fall prey to greater optimism as the season comes closer, but wow.
Still, I feel this team could very easily be an ugly 4-0 which would look a lot better than an ugly 2-2. Iowa State is the better football team, that’s not what I am saying. The offensive line has flat out done work the last two weeks and were once again opening up huge holes for Mark Weisman today, and they get a loss to show for it. They deserved better, to be sure.
The wheels feel like they are coming off the Hawkeye train just four games into the season and you might have to go back a long way, maybe to 2000, to find a time where a) that was the case and b) the confidence of the fan base was this low. This team didn’t have lofty expectations and wasn’t coming off a 10-win season the way it was in 2002 when that team began 2-2. That team never lost another game but it had the talent to do that. It would appear that this team does not.
A few weeks ago, my friend Rob Howe wrote about a feeling of apathy related to the 2012 Iowa football season. If he wasn’t right then, I believe he’s about to be.