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Iowa Potluck, Thursday: Pork Chops and Predictions

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The prediction edition.

That is one fine piece of meat.

Grilled Iowa Chops

This is what you’re all here for. I’m of the belief, that for the money (in Iowa you can get an Iowa chop for about $1/chop), there’s not much better than a grilled Iowa Chop. First thing is to make sure you know what a proper Iowa Chop is. It’s a thick cut pork chop, at least 3/4” thick, cut like a porterhouse or T-Bone like in the picture above. If you get a chop without the filet portion, you’re getting ripped off. Marinate is in a brine the night before, to really get that salt penetrated in the meat (TWSS). If you can’t do that, then dry brine it for as long as you can before grilling. Season with a little Lawry’s, garlic powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Set up your grill with two zone heating with an area for high heat, and an area for low heat. Put the chops over the low heat initially, flipping frequently, until they hit around 125. Then over high heat for about a minute on each side, which should bring it up right to 140-145.

While Iowa went 12-0 in the 2015 regular season, they could never escape the calls that they were a mirage, garbage, even clownfraud trasch. And while the Big Ten Championship Game was close and hard fought, it is tough to ignore how outmatched they appeared in the ROSE BOWL. Now they’re coming into the 2016 with some outsized expectations, which Ferentz teams have not dealt with very well in the past. So, where do you see Iowa ending up in 2016? Division Champs again? A return trip to Pasadena? Or are we looking at another massive letdown season, going 7-5, or worse, Ferentz getting another lifetime contract extension and all Iowa fans being grumpy, again?

Candystripes: While I don’t think Iowa is going to run the regular season again, I do think we’re going to see the Hawkeyes back in Indy after going 10-2. I don’t know that I’d start booking that trip to Pasadena, but a January bowl game might not be out of the realm of possibility.

Andrew Kraszewski: They should be right in the thick of things, but I don't think they were ever head and shoulders above the rest of the division as their record suggests on paper. Some regression is likely, but they've got to be viewed as the frontrunner until someone else takes them down.

WSR: I think Iowa should be in contention for the B1G West again this year. Don’t get me wrong, their being in contention is due as much to everyone else as it is to themselves. Anyone in the West who could contend for the title has at least one glaring issue to address, if not more. But hey, 12-0 defending champs!

Creighton: I agree with what seems to be the popular opinion here (Minus Speth’s inevitable troll game and Badger chest pumping), which is to say: On paper Iowa should probably find itself earning a trip Indy again, though it isn’t going to be easy. I think the West has a lot of parity, and I don’t think the champ is going to run the table in the division. It’s Iowa’s division to lose, but they’ve got some very hungry Badgers, Gophers and Wildcats following close behind (Cornhusker snub very much intended). It’s worth noting that if Iowa somehow does go 12-0 again, there is a very good chance the internet will collapse in on itself like a neutron star.

Aaron Yorke: Iowa can win the West with a 7-2 conference record, right? Good, because that’s my pick right now. 7-2 in the Big Ten, 10-2 overall, another trip to the conference title game, and another loss in the conference title game. No Pasadena, but there’s fun to be had in Orlando as well.

Al NamiasIV: You know I predicted Northwestern’s record dead-on three years in a row, back when I was important. I got Wisconsin within one game every year for the same three years (you can check if you have that little to do). I’m usually right about Ohio State, though who isn’t. I predicted Michigan State’s one bad year (2012), as well as their turnaround in 2013. But I’ve never been right on Iowa. The closest I’ve ever come was 2011, when I had the Hawkeyes at 8-4 (they went 7-5). Usually, I’m at least 2-3 games off, over or under, which is pretty substantial when there are only 12 games in a season. Anyway, here goes.

After the B1G media overwhelmingly picked Iowa to win the West, Fox Sports correspondent and certified troll Stewart Mandel tweeted this:

And who can blame him? Every time Iowa under Kirk Ferentz has expectations put upon them, they fall flat. 2005, 2006, 2010. So I’m left to ask, am I going to get fooled again? I guess so. I have Iowa going 10-2 (7-2 in conference) and going to the B1G Championship Game. It’s just hard to see any other team from the West doing enough to win the division, and as others have noted, it’s Iowa’s to lose. Either way, they better win the division, as it’s a contract year for Ferentz (just like 2009), and if he chokes, most if not all of the good will built up last year will be wiped away.

MNW: Al, will you let me know what Northwestern’s gonna do this year? I’m tired of waiting for the season and want to know if I should be saving up to go travel to a bowl game. I think there’s something to be said for it being difficult to pick your own team’s finish — you’re just too close to the situation.

I think what’ll ultimately do it for Iowa is the schedule. Traveling to Penn State off the bye eliminates my concerns about their second-toughest crossover (aided by the fact that James Franklin is not a very good football coach), and traveling to Rutgers allows the Hawkeyes to ease into the Big Ten slate with one more Patriot League cupcake. Getting Michigan, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Nebraska all at home, too, is a huge boon. Like, “Barta’s got naked pics of Delany” good.

It is, however, worth notice that @Minnesota on the 8th of October could be where the Hawkeyes trip up. With the usual rivalry shenanigans already at play, Iowa will be playing for the sixth consecutive week.

Regardless, I’ve got the Hawkeyes going 10-2 (7-2). I have Michigan down as a loss, then hedged and went with either Northwestern or Minnesota being the second loss. The nice thing? Like Aaron points out, 7-2 should be enough in the West.

DJ: I see Iowa going 10-2 (7-2). They have a pretty favorable schedule on their hands so they’ll cruise to at least a 7-0 start without issue. They’ll fall to Michigan and either Wisconsin or Nebraska. Because reasons. Anyways, that’ll get them to the CCG but I don’t see them taking down Ohio State or Michigan this year.

GF3: Meh, who can say? The West is basically the Clownfraud division, so they’ve got as good a chance of winning it as anyone. Beyond that? Probably further massive embarrassment. Maybe they’ll play another team whose band triggers the entire Iowa fanbase with a costume of a cow. That was neat.

Stew: Best case/worst case. Best case: They roll through the non-con destroying ISU, NDSU, and Rutgers as the FCS teams they are. Start conference play with comfortable wins over jNW, keeping Floyd home, and romping over OMHR. Wisconsin is a shell of a team at this point, and barely puts up a fight. PSU is not very good, but gives Iowa a challenge before Iowa pulls away late because Franklin is Not Very Good. This brings us to the showdown for a night game in Kinnick with Michigan. It’s a slobberknocker, but Desmond King picks off an inexperienced QB to seal the win. The next two weeks are just formalities, and Iowa finishes with another undefeated regular season. I have no idea what to do with my hands.

Worst case: Depth is an issue, injuries pile up early. ISU bites Iowa in a weird, ugly game. NDSU comes to town, Iowa underestimates them, and Good Efforts them to a last second loss. jNW dinks in dunks Iowa to death. Mitch Leidner somehow plays out of his mind again against Iowa, and Floyd is taken hostage. Wisconsin gets a dead cat bounce win in Kinnick. Michigan just dismantles Iowa in front of a mostly empty stadium because it a night game in November. The season mercilessly ends on Black Friday in a blowout fashion. 4-8, and Iowa doesn’t go bowling, but at least Ferentz signed that huge extension and is untouchable for another 7 years.

Really, it’s probably somewhere in between, but that worst case looks way too realistic to me.