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Plenty of ESPN Hawk Talk

August 17, 2010

Written by Jon Miller

Hawkeye Nation

The Worldwide Leader has several college football items with an Iowa mention today.

Best Shot at Playing for the National Title:  ESPN recently released its own in-house power rankings, and Iowa was in their Top Ten.  However in this rundown of teams they think has the best chance of actually playing in the BCS national title game, Iowa is their #1 team.  Not Ohio State, not Alabama, not Boise State, but Iowa.  Oregon was #2, Ohio State #3 and Alabama #4.  Give it a look.

Heisman Hopefuls:  Rick Stanzi made their ‘list’; he is number 16 on a list of 20. How does Stanzi get into the Heisman conversation?  First, Iowa has to contend for this year’s Big Ten title, and win it.  He has to figure into a win against Ohio State in Iowa City on national television as the Big Ten’s defacto championship game.  He’d need in the neighborhood of 25 TD passes to 7 or fewer interceptions, throw for at least 2,700 yards and the Hawks would need to be 11-1.  No pick sixes, and Rick would really need to live up to the mantra I assigned for him last year week to week in that he can do no harm.  I think he is capable of these things, but for all of them to happen is probably unrealistic.  It would be great if he were in the discussion in mid November, because that would mean the Hawks are having another phenomenal year.

Playing for Trophies: They listed Iowa as a team that you don’t want to play when a trophy is on the line.  Iowa has won nine straight games where they have been playing for ‘hardware’:  three straight against Minnesota (Floyd), two straight against Wisconsin (The Bull), two straight against Iowa State (Cy-Hawk) along with Outback and Orange Bowl titles, that award a trophy to the victor.

20 Games to Tune In to:  Iowa vs Ohio State, November 20th was #6 on their list.  This game last year was for the Big Ten title, and Iowa fans hope the same will be said of this year’s tilt which will be played in Kinnick Stadium.  The last time Iowa had a home game for a Big Ten title was in 2004, when one-loss Wisconsin came into town.  After a few early first half turnovers and a defense that would not yield, the Hawks had their way with the Badgers and an amazing scene followed on the field.  That was the last regular season game, and this year’s title is the penultimate affair of the year, so I am not sure how the scene would look.  Here’s to hoping we get a chance to see it.

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All of this is nice window dressing, but it won’t mean much in a few weeks.  However, it’s the sort of stuff that the Iowa staff can use, clip and save and send out to recruits to remind them that if they come to Iowa, they have a chance of being in the limelight and play for all the marbles if they choose to come there.  Don’t underestimate that aspect.  Not everyone is Ohio State or Texas.  Iowa has to work harder, and when they get to this point, where the nation is paying close attention, they have to capitalize on it.

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That’s one of the reasons why this season is OH SO IMPORTANT.  If the Hawks live up to the hype, it’s the kind of year that can change a program for the next decade or more.  Iowa has it rolling right now in recruiting, when compared to their past.  they have more commitments at this time of the recruiting clock than they have ever had, as was the case last year.

If you live up to the hype this year, amidst all of the external expectations, you clear a mental hurdle…sort of like a mental or technical barrier in the stock exchange.  People will find it easier to forgive a few bumps in the future if you deliver when the lights are on.  If Iowa should fall to 7 or 8 wins in 2011, the national media might be more inclined to say ‘Hey, it’s a rebuilding year in Iowa City.  They will be back, because they have done it before.’

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That’s not to say that if Iowa doesn’t live up to external expectations this year that it will be the end of the program…it’s just that these kinds of opportunities don’t come around for the Iowa football program as often as they do for the blue bloods…and if you want to take that next step and certify yourself as one of the Top 20 programs in the nation, you must perform when the lights are on.

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