Iowa and Nebraska Football Temper Overreactions Following Season Openers

J.P. ScottSenior Analyst ISeptember 2, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 01:  Joe Gaglione #99 of the Iowa Hawkeyes chases Keith Harris, Jr. #20 of the Northern Illinois Huskies at Soldier Field on September 1, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Iowa defeated Northern Illinois 18-17.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Living in the largest metropolis that sits on any two Big Ten state borders, you get to read a lot of ink about two different Big Ten teams.

The Omaha, Nebraska/Council Bluffs, Iowa, metro is full of passionate fans of both Iowa and Nebraska. With that are several media outlets looking to capitalize on that passion.

Yesterday was the perfect storm for media reaction and fan overreaction.

On the surface, Nebraska looked nothing short of the most impressive team in the Big Ten. Having lost its best player early on, much-criticized quarterback Taylor Martinez took to the skies and put on a passing clinic that could have been the envy of anyone named Brady or Manning.

The end result: A 49-20 Nebraska victory over Southern Miss.

Then you have Iowa.

After struggling the entire game to find consistency and any playmakers outside of tight ends, the Hawkeyes pulled out a victory, as they often do early in the season, against what many thought was an inferior MAC team.

The end result: An 18-17 Iowa victory over Northern Illinois.

So this morning I fill my coffee cup, put on the slippers, mosey out to the driveway and grab the Sunday Edition of The Omaha-World Herald, the premier news outlet in the region.

The reactions of the media were easy to spot right away as I opened the college football insert: cupcakes and rainbows for Nebraska; doom and gloom for Iowa.


The insert was loaded with articles describing how great Nebraska looked in virtually every facet of the game, including a front-pager about Taylor Martinez's stellar performance.

Page three of the insert was dedicated to the Iowa game, highlighted by quick hits about how disappointing James Vandenberg's performance was, how pedestrian Damon Bullock looked at running back, and how Iowa's defense was exposed against a dual-threat quarterback.

OK, now let's all take a sip of our coffee and a deep breath.

As many Husker fans were quick to remind me after I wrote an article explaining how Southern Miss could be a trap game, the Golden Eagles were a shell of their 2011 selves that won Conference USA.

A new coach, three new quarterbacks, and a mass exodus of starters make the 2012 Southern Miss football team an average mid-major football team.

While it was nice to see Martinez's improved mechanics, it came against a group of players who had never seen a stage like Memorial Stadium. It also came against a non-existent pass rush.

We have yet to see how his mechanics will look under real duress while his receivers navigate a secondary full of guys who will play on Sundays in the next two to three years.

Let's not forget that Southern Miss had the Huskers looking for the door before the final drive of the first half. I'm anxious to see this team play in a hostile environment against a UCLA team that hung 49 points on a Rice team that compares favorably to Southern Miss.

As far as Iowa goes, any college football fan who did any research on Northern Illinois beforehand knew that they were a team riding the longest winning streak in the nation and returning 15 of 22 starters.

I'll also bet they'll be in the hunt for the MAC title with Ohio and Western Michigan, winning 10 games along the way.

For what many consider to be a middle-of-the-road team in the Big Ten, I personally thought Iowa turned in a gutty performance on a neutral field over what could be a conference champion in 2012. Whether it was by one point or 21 points, they won their opener and learned that they do have a go-to running back, after a tumultuous offseason where everything that could have gone wrong at the position did.

The lesson here is that it is a long season. I could very well walk out to my driveway next Sunday and open a paper with completely opposite articles on both teams based on the previous day's results.

Both teams won their openers and we can all move on. Just don't fall into the trap that the talking heads set for you, both good and bad, when analyzing your team's performance. I promise it will all change week by week.