Another Special Season for Iowa Football?

Sure, it's early. And, sure, Iowa's football team still hasn't played a Big Ten game. But I'm wondering if these 2003 Hawkeyes — 40-21 winners Saturday over Iowa State and with a 3-0 record heading into this week's game against Arizona State — are going to be something special.

I mean, after the 11-2 overall record and the 8-0 finish in the Big Ten last season, is it maybe possible for this '03 outfit to do almost as well?

This team doesn't have Brad Banks at quarterback and it sputters occasionally on offense but, hey, these guys are demonstrating that they've got plenty of game. Wait until they learn how to score a touchdown from inside the 10-yard line —then watch ‘em.

Starting Sept. 27 at Michigan State, Iowa [No. 14 in the coaches' poll, No. 18 in the AP poll] will be playing in a conference that's not all that strong — and, as far as the Hawkeyes are concerned, that's a very good thing.

The old Big Ten isn't so big. It's showing plenty of soft spots.

No. 14 Wisconsin scores 5 points while losing to UNLV, 23-5. And at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, too.

Let's see, UNLV stands for the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. Let's see, that's a school in a place known more for slot machines and Jerry Tarkanian's basketball cheating. When UNLV — a football no-name — pounds its chest while walking out of a stadium where no visiting team is supposed to come out alive, you know parity has hit the sport.

Michigan State loses to Louisiana Tech, 20-19, at home.

You've got to be kidding. No, I guess you aren't. Heck, maybe Bobby Williams, who was canned as the Spartans coach last season, wasn't such a dummy after all.

North Carolina State takes No. 3 Ohio State — the defending national champion — into three overtimes before losing, 44-38.

You've got to be kidding. Do you suppose Maurice Clarett is laughing?

Oh, OK, No. 5 Michigan embarrassed Notre Dame, 38-0.

But does anyone want to be me that Iowa won't be ready for the Wolverines -- coached by lightweight Lloyd Carr -- when they show up in Iowa City on Oct. 4?

2-10 SEASON? – After Saturday's game, some sportswriters [but not this one] were wondering if Iowa State is heading toward a 2-10 season. The Cyclones aren't very good right now, but somehow I don't think Dan McCarney is going to let a 2-10 record happen.

McCarney has worked too hard, busted his butt too often to fall back on one of those Jim Walden-type seasons.

Besides, don't forget, Texas is coming to Ames for an Oct. 18 game. If a Longhorns team coached by overrated Mack Brown can lose by 10 points to Arkansas at home, it can lose to anyone. Even to Iowa State at Jack Trice Stadium.

TIME TO GO, JOE - Speaking of soft spots in the Big Ten, what about Penn State?

The Nittany Lions not only lost at Nebraska, 18-10, but looked bad in doing it.

Joe Paterno, who should have retired after last season, owes it to the remaining fans he has to hang up his whistle this year.

Let's hope he doesn't become an embarrassment.

And don't feel too good about things, Nebraska fans. That team of yours didn't look all that great, either.

ANOTHER BLOCK — Bulletin! Sean Considine just blocked another Iowa State punt.

TRAFFIC JAMS — If I've heard it once, I've heard it 100 times. Getting to Ames for a big football game continues to be a horribly time-consuming ordeal.

People complained Saturday that, once they left Interstate 35 and got on Highway 30, traffic slowed to a snail's pace.

Where was the State Patrol, people asked, when it was needed to speed up traffic? Where were the Ames police?

One guy said it took him 3 hours to get from West Des Moines to the stadium. By the time he reached the parking lot, he was fearful he was going to get a blood clot in his right leg after being limited to gaining 2 yards per minute in his '98 Honda.

E-MAILERS - As expected, the e-mailers were busy after the Iowa-Iowa State game.

A guy from Creston wrote me:

"Why doesn't McCarney make Terry Allen the offensive coordinator, and please let's find some kids who can block! Or is it bad coaching? Two blocked punts! Pretty pathetic preparation if you ask me.

"Iowa is good, not great. The defense will keep them in every game. But again, ISU had trouble moving the ball against UNI on the ground, plus practically every team they played last year. So is Iowa that good on defense or is ISU that bad?"

And this e-mail from an Iowa fan in Des Moines:

"Wow! Iowa finally played well in that game. The defense was smothering as I had hoped it would be. The offense was a little disappointing in that it couldn't get a touchdown near the goal line those two times.

"It must have been quite a scene up there..."

[COMMENT: Indeed, it was quite a scene. There's nothing quite like the atmosphere surrounding an Iowa-Iowa State game. It's good for more than just football in the state. It's good for the state.

Fifteen consecutive Iowa victories from 1983-1987 were probably too many, despite any insults ex-Hawkeye Bret Bielema hurled at Jim Walden and anything he said about Iowa State. Five consecutive Iowa State victories were probably too many.

As for Terry Allen, the former Northern Iowa and Kansas coach, becoming the offensive coordinator at Iowa State, I'll check with present coordinator Steve Brickey to see how he feels about it].

FACING THE MUSIC — Chuck Offenburger, the multi-talented former columnist at the local paper who now writes books and operates a slick website out of Storm Lake, and retired sportscaster Frosty Mitchell assigned me to rate the marching bands at Saturday's game.

Well, guys, I can pick a football team apart position by position but I'm a sucker for any marching band. I think the Iowa State and Iowa bands are the best in the nation, and I wouldn't be caught dead saying one is better than the other.

Besides, I was pretty busy being proud while watching those four F-16s [one of them piloted by my son, Mark] soar over Jack Trice Stadium before the game.

As far as I was concerned, they won the blue ribbon, if not the 132nd Fighter Wing version of the Cy-Hawk Trophy.

Ron Maly
Vol. 3, No. 47
Sept. 14, 2003

[Ron Maly's e-mail address is malyr@juno.com]


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