Iowa Football: 5 Biggest Disappointments Through the First 5 Games
In the glorious game of college football, few things are as exceedingly satisfying as a dominant victory leading into a bye week.
This is the mindset of Iowa fans entering the weekend, with images of the Hawkeyes rolling previously unbeaten Minnesota fresh in their minds, and the looming anxiety of their first true road test at Michigan State delayed for a week.
Theoretically, these are great weekends to accomplish things around the house that go overlooked on a typical Hawkeye game day.
As glorious as college football is, few things provoke the level of neurosis in otherwise reasonable men as an entire week analyzing their team without the relief of the evolving narrative a typical Saturday provides.
In that spirit, let’s take a look at the five biggest disappointments through the first five weeks of the Hawkeyes’ 2012 campaign.
There was a time when traveling to Kinnick Stadium in search of a win was considered an unenviable task. Then it wasn't anymore. Now it seems quite pleasant.
Given the consistency in atmosphere, it's difficult to figure out what exactly would allow Iowa State to come into Kinnick and win a heated rivalry game without scoring 10 points.
Even more confounding is how Central Michigan was able to sandwich a victory in Kinnick between blowout losses to Michigan State and Northern Illinois.
Thank goodness for the Minnesota win, otherwise we'd have to kick around the possibility that Iowa is just kind of a crappy football team.
Minnesota is an appropriate measuring stick, right?
It's Iowa State's Super Bowl. It doesn't care if it goes 1-11 as long as it beats Iowa.
Why do Iowa fans continue to say these things as though it provides even the slightest degree of relief after yet another loss to the Cyclones?
Losing to a rival is a bummer. Losing at home to a rival is worse. Losing at home to a rival when they only score nine points and turn the ball over in the red zone so often you'd think their key offensive players were on the take is utterly depressing.
To be fair, Iowa State is probably the better team this year. But still.
Drastic times call for drastic measures. To motivate the Hawkeyes to actually show up for these games, I suggest they be forced to display the rejected Cy-Hawk trophy while ISU takes the real one home. After looking at that failure every day for a year, they'll never come out flat against the Cyclones again.
We knew the Hawkeyes were in danger of being rendered one-dimensional on offense. But no one would have guessed which dimension would carry the load.
Iowa entered the season with a returning starter at quarterback in James Vandenberg, a tight end with all the physical tools to dominate and a group of receivers with tons of potential. What it didn't have was a healthy running back with significant game experience.
Unfortunately, three young ladies arrested at the UNI game for public intoxication after passing out in a Kinnick Stadium restroom within 30 minutes of one another is the closest thing we have to a perfect analogy for the disjointed lack of cohesion displayed in the Iowa passing attack.
The running game, on the other hand, has been a wild success with the emergence of folk hero and possible terminator, Mark Weisman.
Hopefully this bye week will give the passing game the time it needs to get on the same page. If it is unable to make defenses pay for stacking the box, it's going to be a long seven weeks of Big Ten action.
Look sharp, feel sharp, play sharp. It's a pretty simple formula, really.
Kirk Ferentz spent the better part of a decade acting like the spread offense was a passing fad, so you can imagine how unenthused he is when it comes to fancy alternate uniforms.
He does, however, appear to grasp the idea that young people and potential recruiting targets are very enthused by fresh unis, and thus, Iowa breaks out annual throwbacks and will wear alternate Nike uniforms later this season.
The effort is good. The execution? Eh.
Iowa's throwbacks were an homage to the 1920 Hawkeyes. Let's just say style has come a long way in 92 years.
Pictures of the Nike alternates, originally rumored to be Nike Pro Combat uniforms, were released to mixed reviews. Not because they are particularly bad, but because compared to leading programs across the nation, Iowa's approach seems a little safe, maybe even boring.
Wait, are we still talking about uniforms?
The B1G Picture
If misery truly loves company, Iowa's early struggles should be relatively easy to digest.
When Central Michigan knocked off the Hawkeyes in Iowa City, the national narrative could have been much more degrading. Fortunately, Iowa was just one of several Big Ten teams to disgrace the conference on that particular Saturday.
There are glass-half-empty and glass-half-full ways to view the ineptitude of the Big Ten.
Of course, no fan wants their team's conference to carry the label of national embarrassment. When the conference is bad, all teams are negatively affected.
Besides the impact it has on national rankings, it is very difficult to gauge your team's progress if you aren't exactly sure what caliber team you are playing against.
On the other hand, no team that loses to Central Michigan is going to be ranked, so who cares? At this point, it is just reassuring to know there are other mediocre teams that Iowa should be able to compete with as the season progresses.
We will learn a lot more about ourselves and our conference when the bye week is over and Iowa takes on Michigan State.
Until then, try to get some yard work done with the weekend off.