Saturday’s out-of-the-blue triumph – nay, demolition – of the mighty Ohio State Buckeyes seems like a surreal fever dream.
Now I know how the Munchkins felt when Dorothy dropped that house on the green hag from the East. Or the Ewoks after some helpful Jedi blasted dastardly Stormtroopers off of Endor.
The Buckeyes are the big, bad bully of the Big 10, even though we called our Hawks that for a few years in the early 2000s. I’m talking from a historical and national perspective here.
Pick your metaphor: Death Star, the Borg, the New York Yankees. Ohio State is the stronger, better looking guy your ex-girlfriend dates. The Buckeyes are the rich yuppie jerk from every 80s romantic comedy. Ohio State is the freaking Cobra Kai dojo and Urban Meyer is its smirking sensei.
And our boys just crane-kicked their candy asses back to Columbus.
As a fan, is there anything sweeter, anything more fulfilling, than finally seeing your team get its licks in on a longtime tormentor? Sure, this game lacked the heart-stopping thrill of last season’s walk off winning kick over Michigan. And the Hawks didn’t clinch a Big 10 championship before its fans stormed the field like in 2004 against Wisconsin. But in terms of sheer, unbridled joy and surprise, I’m not sure last Saturday doesn’t take the cake. I can’t remember walking out of Kinnick with a bigger smile on my face in some time.
Ironically, this is the same week of the season as last year’s absolute mauling at the hands of Penn State.
I wrote this that depressing week:
Keep believing, and someday you will earn respect and be on top.
The Hawkeyes may be effectively out-of-the-running for a Big 10 championship this year, but they were certainly on top of the college football world mountain Saturday night. Josh Jackson’s acrobatic interception was the SportsCenter #1 play of the day. The amazing hospital wave garnered positive air time and headlines yet again. The state of Iowa was roundly recognized as being the place Blue Blood title hopes go to die.
I’d call that respect, earned.
And now Iowa turns back to a longtime, familiar foe in Wisconsin. Once again, the Hawkeyes are in the role of spoiler, which fortunately for them, is a position in which it excels.
I think the Hawkeyes and Badgers are quite comparable from an athleticism and skill level standpoint. Wisconsin might have a slight edge at running back (this is no swipe at Akrum Wadley, the Badger kid is just that dynamic). But I think Nate Stanley is going to make Badger fans livid that ex-coach Gary Anderson didn’t recruit him and Paul Chryst came in too late to flip him.
I also believe it’s fair to say Iowa will be the biggest, fastest, strongest team the Badgers have played this season. Northwestern is their best win (at home no less) and while they are solidly above average, they aren’t quite as talented across-the-board as Iowa. I feel like these factors, and the fact the home team inexplicably seems to struggle in this series, give the Hawks an edge.
Another potential factor is this year, Iowa is in the role Wisconsin was in 2010. That is, they are the road dog who can play loose. The Badgers have an undefeated season and potential College Football Playoff appearance in the balance. Maybe this year they’ll be the team playing not to lose, which we know all-too-well is the kiss of death.
Whatever the outcome in Madison, this is already a season to remember. The thrilling come-from-behind victory in Ames, the oh-so-close battle against Penn State and the inexplicable dismantling of a high-powered, highly ranked Ohio State will live in the memory banks for a long time.
It’s not every week the eyes of the entire college football world are focused on Iowa City. Let’s remember to enjoy it while we can.
Former Badger coach Gary Andersen’s last name does not have an “o” in it (-sen, not -son).