January 4, 2015





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Your daily dose of black and gold...

University of Iowa fans saw what a healthy Jordan Canzeri can mean to the 2015 Hawkeye offense in the TaxSlayer Bowl. (Photo: Brian Ray)
Big wins, tough sledding in Jacksonville, and a little more...  


IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Random thoughts on the Sunday after a big week for the Iowa Hawkeyes...


Flush it. It will be hard, but -- as a fan -- rather than letting it chew at you all winter and spring and summer, I would suggest you let the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl go. There were individual performances worth noting for the 2015 season, but football is game not won by individual excellence as much as by superior play from 11 guys working as one. The rules are likely a little different for our coaches and student-athletes. They'll flush it, but not before they take it apart play by play, and examine it closely to identify whatever they can in terms of learning from it.


Speaking of next year, one of the things I like most about college football is the known-in-advance reality of the comings and goings of student-athletes. The visit to Jacksonville,, Florida, was the finale for another great group of seniors and their departure opens the door for names we heard three or four years ago on National Signing Day.  I'm excited to see who emerges from the depths of the depth chart to be difference-makers next fall.


Two final thoughts on the TaxSlayer Bowl:  No. 1 -- Speed is a difference-maker and Tennessee had more of it than the good guys in black and gold.  No. 2 -- From my vantage point in the east grandstand, the Volunteer quarterback looked like a clone of the youngster from Florida State who won the Heisman two years ago.  Long, lanky, and strong, both with his arm and his legs.


That was a big win by Fran McCaffery's squad in its Big Ten opener at Ohio State. Winning on the road is tough in the Big Ten and winning in Columbus is really tough, and now the Hawkeyes have done it two years in a row. Here's a link to our take on the win: HERE.


One of the things I liked most about the win is the number of Hawkeyes who contributed to the win and the variety of their contributions. You can start with Jarrod Uthoff's big 3-pointer from the corner -- one of his game-high four from behind the arc -- and continue with Adam Woodbury's dive for the loose ball and add Josh Oglesby's sweet two-pointer in the lane and Aaron White's almost routine 18-point, 9-rebound day. 


Take that, naysayers! No. 1 -- So, for the naysayers that refused -- and, probably continue -- to believe the Hawkeyes could knock down the shots when necessary, look no further than the performance on Tuesday. That was as solid as solid gets, particularly when it's done away from the friendly confines of Mediacom Court in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. You can check out the numbers for yourself HERE.


Take that, naysayers! No. 2 -- It is only Game 1 of a long and challenging journey through the Big Ten, but, wins in an opponent's gym in the Big Ten are hard to come by and to get one in the opener is like finding a $100 bill on the sidewalk. It's reason to smile and smile wide. And, as it's been noted in several places, that was Iowa's second win over a ranked opponent on the road. That gets the attention of those building the bracket in March.


It's a big day for Lisa Bluder's nationally ranked Hawkeyes. Bluder's Bunch is in Piscataway, New Jersey, for game No. 2 of this year's Big Ten schedule against former Hawkeye C. Vivian Stringer's nationally ranked Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Here's one perspective on the contest -- HERE -- which will be televised live on BTN at 11 a.m.


So, what can you say about the performance by Tom Brands' top-ranked squad at this year's Midlands event? The numbers tell the story best:  A record number of points scored, four champions, and the Big Ten's wrestler of the week. You can read about it HERE. The Hawkeyes complete a swing to the eastern edge of the league's geographic footprint with a date against the Buckeyes today after having thumped Rutgers on Friday in their Big Ten opener. You can read about that win HERE.


I'm not sure I've seen in my lifetime a more dominating performance in a bowl game than TCU's thumping of Ole Miss. Not too many folks saw a 40-something to next-to-nothing score in this one. The Horned Frogs spanked them and spanked them good.


Kudos to our Big Ten peers. The conference that was left for dead a year ago and entered the bowl season underdogs in all 10 of its games won five and had a team advance to the national championship game. Not bad for a collection of football programs many across the country had written off as long gone as the game of football defined by three yards and a cloud of dust. 


Harbaugh and Michigan?  My two cents is simple:  The Wolverines will be a player in the Big Ten East quickly. UM's new head football coach didn't win a Super Bowl during his stint in the NFL, but he did generate a lot of excitement about his team and himself, and that will help him immensely in the all-important game of recruiting.  More importantly is the fact that he had great success as the head coach at Stanford. If he can build a championship-caliber program in Palo Alto, California, he can do the same in Ann Arbor, where football is more deeply woven into the fabric of the institution.


Lastly, my Final Four bracket is still intact. I went with the Pac-12 and Big Ten in the semifinal game and was rewarded. And, as a big fan of the B1G, I have the Buckeyes winning the whole shooting match.  It should be a great game to top off a great first season for the College Football Playoff and college football in general.


Go Hawkeyes!



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