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Closing Arguments - Iowa


You're from Iowa, Middle America. Do you ever feel like you're representing more than just a school or conference, but a whole group of American citizens out there?

-- Chris Myers, 1/6/10

I. Case History/Opening Statement

A. Case History

You tell me, who had a more entertaining season than the 2009 Iowa Hawkeyes? Let's see, there was the game that required blocked kicks in the final ten seconds to secure the win. There was the drubbing of their in-state little brother. There was the punt block in the rain to silence 110,000 sad Lions. There was the October blackout (with snow flurries) of Michigan. There was breaking of the Badger spirit in the second half. There was "7 got 6" in East Lansing. There was the pinball touchdown over Indiana. And then there was a bowl win that showed the country just how dominant Adrian Clayborn is and just how patriotic Ricky Stanzi is. 11 wins and a lot of fun. 


The annual game where Northwestern cheap shots the Iowa offensive star wasn't cool. The subsequent loss the next week when a backup quarterback led the squad into the Shoe and took Ohio State to overtime was an unexpected heart breaker. But if you would have told Iowa fans in August of 2009 that 11 wins and a BCS Bowl win lie ahead of them, they would have gleefully taken it. The question is, would they take the same results in 2010, or have preseason expectations, which have reached a level not seen since the '80s, determined that this is a "Title or Bust" year for the black and gold?

More Closing Arguments:

Ohio State

B. Opening Statement

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, I know that some of you feel compelled to describe the Iowa Hawkeyes as a lucky team. A team that, no doubt, will be unable to sustain its success for a second year. To you I say, look deeper. You'll find a team that overcame injuries at QB, RB, WR, TE, T, G, S, CB, and KR to win those 11 games. You'll find a team that showed dominance for extended periods of time. When you look at the 4th Quarter against Penn State, the first half against Georgia Tech, or the second half against Wisconsin, you'll see a team with the power and drive to succeed. There is no reason that they can't do so again.

II. Discovery

A. What We Can Learn From Pop Music

Because all blogs are required to compare athletic teams to some random entertainment icon, we're equating Big Ten Teams to famous pop artists.

Here's the thing. There's nothing sexy about Phil Collins. Look at him, and there is nothing that makes you think that he dominated pop radio. And yet, only one artist of the 1980s had top ten hits in each and every year of that decade. Not Madonna. Not Michael Jackson. Not Springsteen, nor Prince. No, it was the man who looked like an accountant, but created fundamentally sound pop songs and solid performances (with and without Genesis). Never flashy, but always good. No one thinks of any particular year in the 1980s as "Phil Collins's Year," but he was always quietly near the top. Sound like any black and gold football teams you know?

B. Off Tackle Empire Says

Ricky Stanzi's Mechanics (no, we can't explain the pick sixes)

Fry vs. Ferentz? Who's been better?

Could the Stars Align in 2010?

We love Adrian Clayborn

We're nervous about the O-Line

A look back at Iowa in the Aughts

The joy of the Orange Bowl win


III. Emotional Plea

A. The Iowa Challenge

I challenge you to find anyone more fundamentally sound than the Hawkeyes' defense. When things are working, the team's play is a thing of beauty.  Let's talk about the first half of the Orange Bowl. The Iowa defense faced a Georgia Tech squad that hadn't punted in two games. The Jackets' 7 first half possessions went as follows: 3 plays - punt; 3 plays - punt; 3 plays - punt; 3 plays - punt; 4 plays - punt; 3 plays - punt; 1 play - halftime.  It was as close to a perfect defensive half as a team can play. In the last 30 games, there hasn't been a single opponent that has scored 30 points against the Hawkeyes defense. That's the longest streak in the nation. With 8 starters returning, including all four members of the nation's most menacing defensive line, that streak should get longer this year. 

B. Iowa's Challenge

Last year, Iowa had a bit of a struggle putting teams away. OK, that's an understatement. The Hawkeyes walked the fine line between winning and losing in 7 of 8 conference games and 2 of 4 non-conference games. Good teams? Iowa played them tight. Bad teams (like Indiana, Arkansas State and Northern Iowa)? Iowa played them tight. The challenge for Iowa this year is to find ways to put teams away before the final gun. James Vandenberg should be able to get snaps at QB when Ricky Stanzi is healthy. The stud defensive line should get fourth quarters off. Otherwise, the Hawkeyes may find themselves on the wrong end of that thin margin of error in 2010.


IV. Verdict

A. The Staff Calls the Games

Jonathan Franz:

10-2 (6-2) with losses to Penn State and Ohio State

Graham Filler:
10-2 (6-2) with losses to Wisconsin and Ohio State

Bama Hawkeye: 
10-2 (6-2) with losses to Michigan and Ohio State

Paterno Ave:
9-3 (5-3) with losses to Penn State, Wisconsin and Northwestern

Hilary Lee:  
10-2 (6-2) with loss to Northwestern and Ohio State

10-2 (6-2) with losses to Wisconsin and Ohio State

10-2 (6-2) with losses to Wisconsin and Ohio State


[EDIT: A late addition...Gerry DiNardo on the Big Ten's preview show did state that of the three presumptive contenders - Iowa, Ohio State, and Wisconsin - Iowa looked the furthest along and had done the best job at answering their team's questions. Just his opinion, but he was the man who said last summer after watching camp that the loss of Mitch King and Matt Kroul wouldn't hurt Iowa, and that they may have a better defensive line in 2009. Bears noting that he was right.]