By Courtney Baumann
I probably deleted and restarted my story five times on Sept. 9 in Jack Trice Stadium.
If you were watching the game, that shouldn’t be at all surprising.
It looked like Iowa was going to pull away at the beginning of the third quarter, but then Iowa State scored 21 unanswered points. But wait. Iowa tied the game in the fourth quarter.
Then the Cyclones found the end zone with fewer than five minutes left.
By this time, I had completely given up hope of having any sort of writing done before the end of the game — I was right in thinking so, too. Akrum Wadley did an Akrum Wadley thing and turned a short pass into a 46-yard touchdown with just over a minute left.
We got to see some free football. Exciting, right? The answer is “yes.” College football overtime is one of the greatest things in sports. I wish with all of my heart that the NFL would adopt the practice.
It was a beautiful day in Ames, no doubt about it. From the non-air conditioned press box, cardinal, gold, and black were all intermixed, making up a sea of 61,500 Iowa fans, in one way or another.
The location of the two schools is great for the rivalry and the state. Sure, the “Cyclone power” chants rattled the stadium, but the “Go Hawks” cheers were almost as powerful.
Luckily for the fans who made the trek — who knows what that number was, there were so many people outside of Jack Trice that did not have a ticket — the teams put on a great game. In it, Iowa showed the ability to fight back from adversity, make plays happen when it needed to (take Parker Hesse and Wadley, for example), and quarterback Nate Stanley really looked like he was settling into his role as the team leader.
There were some things that were rather concerning.
Ike Boettger is at the top of that list. After leaving the game with an apparent ankle injury, his status is questionable. Kirk Ferentz cleared up those questions during his press conference, though, and the verdict was bleak.
Ferentz said he was “not optimistic” about Boettger’s return, not just in the near future but for the whole season. He said it could be something with Boettger’s Achilles, which would almost positively be season-ending.
This would mean even more shuffling with the offensive line, which hasn’t had a steady lineup since midway through last season. Although Iowa can fill the line with the likes of Sean Welsh, Boone Myers, James Daniels, Alaric Jackson, Keegan Render, and possibly Tristan Wirfs, it is likely that the veteran’s absence will be noticed.
Although he had a great game statistically and down the stretch, there were some things that were also concerning about Stanley.
Ferentz noted one after the game — the scoring opportunities Iowa missed on deep balls that were overthrown.
More than once, Stanley overthrew a wide-open target down the field that would have almost definitely gone for 6 points. Ferentz said he never had a discussion with his quarterback about it during the game, but he’s glad the missed chances did not come back to haunt Iowa.
Another thing about Stanley — his choices of targets looked poorly thought out at times.
Of course, it’s easier said than done. I’m not out on the field with thousands of pounds of men hurtling toward me, but there were a few times that Stanley had open receivers, yet chose to throw into heavy coverage.
It was still just his second start, and he will learn in time, but it would be better if that were sooner rather than later.
Sept. 9 was a good day, all around, though. Iowa has the Cy-Hawk Trophy for the third-consecutive year, and the next thing on the docket is North Texas, which the Hawkeyes trounced, 62-16, in 2015.
Starting the season 2-0 is a good thing.