Thursday, December 3, 2015

Talking to Yourself about Iowa

Iowa is 12-0 and going to the B1G Championship with a shot to go the College Football Playoff. I know this sentence is 100% true, and yet, I still can't totally fathom it. I mean, I'm flying up to Indy to go to the game (scalpers willing) this weekend, and it still hasn't totally sunk in. I've watched every minute of every game, and it still doesn't feel totally right that Iowa is here. This season is too good, and my brain can't fully comprehend what is happening.

It's not that I've been influenced by the pundits either. I barely watch ESPN, so I really only hear about most of it secondhand. I remember hearing a throwaway joke on the Solid Verbal about talking to your kids about Iowa, laughed, moved on, and then watched it take off a become a thing. That's still funny to me, and shockingly fitting, because I can't totally explain Iowa to a child; I can't even fully explain Iowa to myself.

Don't get me wrong. This is fun. This is really, really, fun.

Think about this season for Iowa, and try to name players who performed below expectations. The only ones are, through no fault of their own, Drew Ott and Jake Duzey. Ott played with a robo arm for a few weeks and was still causing havoc before having season ending knee surgery. Duzey got hurt before the season, and because the other two tight ends were playing great, hasn't really had a chance to put himself back in the rotation.

Who has even only played to expectations? I guess I'd go with Tevaun Smith, who has been a weapon in the passing game but has not set the world on fire. Greg Mabin, who continues to show flashes of greatness but still hasn't quite gotten the consistency that would make him an absolute monster as a corner. That's basically it. Those guys just did as good as we expected them to.

Everyone else has exceeded expectations, and there are some guys who exceeded past my wildest fantasies. The one that stands out is Desmond King, who I was excited about when Iowa got him right before National Signing Day. He just sounded like a guy who just made plays, and wouldn't you know it? Making plays in football is a pretty damn valuable skill. Still, this is beyond even my wildest expectations. He probably deserves the Thorpe Award, as he has legitimately been the best corner in the league. It's been incredible.

Probably the most surprising success story is the entire offensive line. Sure, Austin Blythe was good, but he's become dominant, and everyone has far exceeded my expectations. I thought it would be their achilles heel on the way to a 4-8 season, and instead, they have become a huge strength in keeping the quarterback upright while opening up huge holes for a bevvy of running backs.

And speaking of running backs, holy shit, how did Mark Weisman start for this team? Nothing against Weisman, who always worked hard and did his best, but Jordan Canzeri is the truth, Wadley has moves on moves, Derrick Mitchell is somehow just a great pass blocker for third down situations, and when LeShun Daniels is on, he's the most unstoppable runner of the bunch. The running backs have taken a huge step forward, and it's been fun to watch.

But don't think I forgot about defenders outside of King Crunk, as it has been a great year for guys with double J initials. Jaleel Johnson has emerged as a monster in the middle of the line, destroying run games and collapsing pockets on the quarterback, he has helped make everyone else's job easier. Right behind him is Josey Jewell who has gone from looking lost last year to having nearly flawless instincts as he flies around and tackles everything in sight. With Jeff Jarrett starting Global Force Wrestling, it has been a great year for Double Js.

Somehow even crazier, I have talked about a ton of important factors about Iowa, and I haven't even mentioned that Kirk Ferentz has altered his offensive playbook, and all CJ Beathard does is win. There's simply too much wild shit happening this year to get to everything.

And here's the thing with not wrapping my head around this team. As the season has gone on, a part of me has hoped for a single loss and a Rose Bowl berth, because how cool would the Rose Bowl be (although a loss likely knocks them out of that at this point)? And that was seriously as high as my brain can dream up. Like, all they do is win, so who's to say they couldn't win the damn College Football Playoff? It's unlikely, but this season took nearly everything going right in the first place, why should that stop now? I don't know if my heart could take it.

Nearly everything has gone right this year, and I'm a very logical person, so I always assume if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. This season definitely seems too good to be true, so it almost doesn't feel real. The question I keep asking is when is that other shoe going to drop? I don't know, and I'm going to do my best to turn my brain off to not care either. I'm going to the B1G Championship next week, and who knows where I could be headed next to support the Hawkeyes?

This season has already been an incredible triumph, but it's not over yet, so it's time to say fuck logic and just enjoy the ride.

Go Hawks!

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