Iowa football celebrates Groundhog Day

BY BEN ROSS | OCTOBER 28, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Oct. 26 football game against Northwestern carried a lot of story lines and veils going into the contest. On the surface, it was the America Needs Farmers game, where Iowa fans in the stands of Kinnick were given pom-poms, and former Iowa football players are added to the ANF wall of honor.

The game also came five days before Halloween, which meant some fans flooded the stadium wearing colored body suits and other silly costumes. Herky did wear a kick-ass Batman outfit, though.

Despite these really nifty contextual settings related to Iowa’s 17-10 overtime win over the Wildcats, Oct. 26 was really Groundhog Day for Iowa football: The Hawkeyes got a win, prolonging interest in the Iowa football team for likely the rest of the season — another four weeks or so.

Had Iowa lost to Northwestern — a team coming off three-straight losses — Iowa’s football season would go on to fester in the cobwebs of everyone’s minds, fans hibernating in the wake of another disappointing football campaign. The hype of Hawkeye basketball season would then take the front seat in the interests of Iowa fans.

So the win gives us four more weeks of Iowa football (plus a bowl game, even. Maybe.) Prolonging crazed interest in regards to the basketball schedule. Which is a good thing.

Even though basketball season does start in less than two weeks, the beginning of Iowa’s hoops schedule is filled with small schools that have hyphenated names and laughable endowment sizes.

As much as my pessimistic ass hates to say it, Iowa football winning is really better for the university, too. Superfans painting their bodies for Iowa’s basketball game against Maryland Eastern Shore? Gimme a break. Let’s keep those psychotic sports fans around in Kinnick a little longer, while Iowa still needs them.

Basketball has a long season. It’s not a bad thing to let the hype for Fran McCaffery’s squad cool in the beginning of the schedule, with fan support peaking later on in the brunt of the Big Ten slate.

Iowa basketball will have fan support when it needs it. Right now, football will take all the help it can get.

Wisconsin comes to town this weekend, and the Badgers pose all sorts of matchup problems for the Hawkeyes, which never seems to be able to do good things two weeks in a row. Bucky has the best rushing offense for a team not named Oregon in the land, and Iowa’s run defense hasn’t really shown to be half as good as many were previously led to believe.

But when even if Iowa loses to Wisconsin, there will still be good reason to follow the Hawkeyes on the gridiron. Iowa will then go to Purdue, which is, more or less, a gimme. Iowa will become bowl-eligible, making its remaining games against Michigan at home and at Nebraska incredibly intriguing.

Carver-Hawkeye Arena can wait. Right now it’s all about filling the stands in the stadium named after Iowa’s greatest athletes. My tap-dancing shoes can wait in the closet until March draws closer. Right now, its time to start rocking the bowling shoes and head to Colonial Lanes.

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