Season to remember after all

Iowa+quarterback+C.J.+Beathard+waves+to+fans+as+he+runs+out+onto+the+field+before+a+football+game+with+No.+16+Nebraska+in+Kinnick+Stadium+on+Friday%2C+Nov.+25%2C+2016.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Cornhuskers%2C+40-10%2C+on+senior+night.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FJoseph+Cress%29

Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard waves to fans as he runs out onto the field before a football game with No. 16 Nebraska in Kinnick Stadium on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cornhuskers, 40-10, on senior night. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

Jordan Hansen, [email protected]

I have to admit, after watching Penn State shellac Iowa at the beginning of November, it didn’t seem there was a whole lot of hope for the rest of the Hawkeyes season.

The team looked defeated and miserable after the loss. Any team would, but with all the expectations coming into the season, it seemed like the last nail in the metaphorical season. Giving up 599 yards will do that to a team.

But then something — I’m still not completely sure what — changed. Iowa pulled an incredible upset on Michigan. Then beat down Illinois. Confidence completely restored, it then took down Nebraska on Nov. 25 in dominating fashion.

The season, literally, was pulled from the edge of the abyss. And oh, what a deep, dark fall that could have been.

But it wasn’t. Ending with three-straight wins — two of them against ranked teams — completely changed the perception of the 2016 Hawkeyes.

Now, there’s a chance for Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz to win nine games, something he’s done just six times as Iowa’s head coach. If the team plays well, it could end up somewhere in the mid-teens of the final AP poll.

It’s hard to not consider that a successful season, considering the Hawkeyes were 5-4 and finishing with a winning record started to look like something that might not happen.

But it did.

Iowa isn’t playing in the Big Ten Championship this season, which is a major disappointment. Mostly because with the way Iowa is playing right now, it’s hard to think of a team that really wants to play it right now.

All the way back at Big Ten media day, starting quarterback C.J. Beathard was adamant that returning to the conference championship was the team’s major goal. While every player from every team probably said something similar, when Beathard said it, there wasn’t a whole lot of reason to think the Hawkeyes couldn’t.

After all, this Hawkeye team is full of senior players in positions in which you want experience. The defense was mean in 2015 and looked like it would do more of the same things in 2016.

And they did, it just took until the last three games for the Hawkeyes to find their groove.

I hate to dive into clichés and coach-speak, but the team really did come together and refuse to lie down. There has been criticism about the leadership on this team, and there has been a very serious undercurrent of fans wanting Iowa to rid itself of offensive coordinator Greg Davis.

And, of course, this all came with the usual jokes and snark around Ferentz’s mid-season contract extension. Of course, every player and coach on this team will swear up and down that they aren’t distracted by outside factors.

I personally find that hard to believe, considering how much we’ve been saturated into a digital lifestyle. Yes, Iowa players can’t have Twitter. But many of the assistant coaches do, and again, it’s just difficult to see how some of the stuff people say doesn’t trickle down.

Now this isn’t to say some of the criticism wasn’t warranted, of course. There are issues to be addressed, and it’s hard to imagine there won’t be a few changes in the off-season.

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