Des Moines – Hawkeye and Cyclone fans alike were treated to a thrilling Cy-Hawk game this past Saturday. The Iowa football team was able to claw back late in the 4th quarter and then ultimately steal the victory in overtime. The game lived up to the hype as both teams were coming into it undefeated, and both fan bases were feeling optimistic about their football team’s chances.
For Hawkeye fans, the game against Iowa State was a bit of a roller coaster. Most of us came into the game supremely confident in the Hawkeye defense, and not sure what to expect from the offense. If anything, we thought the defense would carry the team to victory. That prediction couldn’t have been further from the truth.
The Hawkeye defense struggled to stop Iowa State’s potent offensive attack. Cyclone wide receivers consistently gave the Hawkeye defensive backfield fits. David Montgomery, Iowa State’s RB, proved to be a determined runner by racking up many yards after contact.
However, the Hawkeye offense kept Iowa in the game. Every time Iowa State struck Iowa struck back. Nate Stanley showed an incredible amount of poise for a young, inexperienced QB. Akrum Wadley did what he does. He made ridiculous plays in both the running game and passing attack. Finally, after being criticized all offseason as the Hawkeyes weak link, several Iowa wide receivers stepped up and made plays. Guys like Matt Vandeberg, Nick Easley, and Noah Fant (TE) remained consistent in their ability to deliver when thrown to. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the game was true freshman WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette. He hauled in one acrobatic TD during regulation, and sealed the Hawkeye victory with a clutch TD catch in overtime.
In the end, Iowa’s offense surprised everyone by carrying the team to victory. Stanley led like a general. He did what most good QBs do. He made some mistakes, but he never lost his cool. If he was nervous he certainly didn’t show it. He executed when he needed to execute, and he had some playmakers emerge around him. Oh, and Akrum Wadley was magic of course.
The victory against the Cyclones left most Hawkeye fans feeling exuberant and proud. Proud of the fact that Kirk Ferentz and his team seem to have solved the Cyclone riddle. They’ve now won three games in a row against Iowa State, and this victory came against what I believe to be a pretty damn good Cyclone football team.
It is also fair to say a lot of Hawkeye fans aren’t sure what to expect out of their team at this point. We’ve now seen the defense play lights out against a solid Wyoming team lead by an NFL QB. Then they followed that performance by struggling mightily against a very talented Iowa State offense. On the flip side, Iowa’s offense looked very average in the opening game against Wyoming, and then played incredibly well against Iowa State.
Heading into the game against North Texas the Hawkeyes are a bit of a conundrum. A 2-0 conundrum that is. They’ve been both outstanding and inefficient on both sides of the ball. However, they’ve also battled with each other, showed toughness when faced with adversity, and fought their way to winning their first two games. All while some young players have been gaining some much needed experience.
In conclusion, Hawk fans are cautiously optimistic in a year where no one really knew what to expect. We’ll see if they continue to impress against a North Texas team that they should handle. Then we’ll really see what they are all about when #5 Penn State rolls into Kinnick Stadium on September 23rd. The Nittany Lions will present a daunting challenge for the Hawkes, but they better take care of business against the Mean Green first.