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That familiar smell of 8-4: What Cedar Rapids smells like, and how the Hawkeyes’ schedule sets up... // B1G 2019, Iowa Potluck #4

Every few years it’ll be Crunch Berry Day in Cedar Rapids, but more often than not you’re getting the same lumpy bowl of oatmeal. We talk familiar smells, familiar opponents, and familiar record predictions for the Hawkeyes.

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New Era Pinstripe Bowl - Iowa v Boston College Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

I’m loath to say anything nice about Iowa, but goddamn, have we been fortunate to have some great Iowa pieces this week.

Seriously, go give Creighton’s Reggie Roby retrospective a look. Or take a gander at Stew and Jesse comparing Fran McCaffery to Bo Pelini. Or meet Ben Ross from Black Heart Gold Pants and appreciate the awesome work the new management there does.

Are you good? We’re ready to do this? Hold your nose.

We’re predicting Iowa’s finish in 2019 today, and that means it’s back to the comforting sameness that can only be evoked by the Midwes—


Kraft Heinz plans to spend $62.8 million retooling its Mason City factory to produce a new slate of dessert products. [...] The Mason City plant has produced Jell-O refrigerated pudding since 1987, according to the Mason City Globe Gazette.

There’s nothing more Midwestern that a $63 million Jello factory. Shut it down.

Tell us, writers: Does your state manufacture anything MORE MIDWESTERN than billions of dollars worth of Jello? Because I sure can’t think of anything.

Bonus: The smell of Cedar Rapids, you may have noticed, is...unpleasant. Most days. The City of Five Smells, as it’s known, will often reek of Quaker Oats’ various products, unless it’s the heavenly Crunch Berry Day. But that will never be the day you drive through it. Have you ever been lucky enough to experience Crunch Berry Day? Is there a local smell(s) where you are?

Thumpasaurus: Southeast Michigan manufactures depression.

Beez: Wisconsin’s gotta manufacture stuff still, right? I haven’t lived there in forever, but motorcycles and paper and cheese and beer maybe?

This is turning into a super bourgois answer and I’m going to blame it on my long absence from the state rather than being a snobby b-hole. North Carolina manufactures furniture, which seems like a Midwestern thing. They used to make couches in Davenport, right? That’s why my grandma called the couch a Davenport all the time? It’s either furniture, Cheerwine, or tobacco products, so pick whatever sounds best.

Boilerman: Lafayette is home to two large corn syrup plants. Meaning on any given gameday, if the wind is out of the South or East, there’s a good chance you’ll catch a whiff of corn being rendered into sickly sweet syrup to end up in your cola of choice. The smell is unmistakable and leaves your stomach churning.

Andrew: Oh I don’t know, how about a dirt cheap, actually-not-awful boxed mix which can be translated into any baked good conceivable in the multiverse? I’m talking of course about Jiffy, conjured from a glorious amalgam of DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT THAT’S A TRADE SECRET in humble Chelsea, MI.

I’d also be remiss to not shout out Battle Creek, home to the Kellogg cereal behemoth that’s been shoving processed sugar into the mouths of American children for decades (if you’re into history, look up the story of the company’s founders, which is too long to relate here but is worth the read).

BrianB2: Perdue farms is stationed in Eastern Maryland. I am not sure how far-reaching the impact of Perdue chicken is, but it sure has led to some awesome, definitely-not-overused jokes at the expense of our Boiler friends. I still don’t think that trumps a 63 million dollar Jell-O factory, and frankly I don’t think anything could.

I have never had the pleasure of driving through Grand Rapids, but the Chesapeake Bay in certain parts definitely has a distinct smell. The best I could do to try and describe it is a cross between hot garbage, a wet dog and seafood. I kinda like it.

Stew: I live in Cedar Rapids. It is indeed the city of 5 smells (a play on the official city nickname, the city of 5 seasons, which is very, very dumb). There’s the aforementioned Quacker Oats, there’s also General Mills, and Raslton Foods, for your cereal processing. There’s the Cedar River, that winds its way through the town, where some genius located the water treatment plant upstream from the city. There’s ADM, for corn syrup processing, if that’s your thing.

Creighton: Well we already talked about Jell-O and Quaker Oats, so let me introduce you to another famous midwestern smell. About 45 minutes north of the Quad Cities, just across the Mississippi River from Fulton, IL is a sleepy little town named Clinton. Clinton is home to a plant owned by National By-Products that renders animal fat.

If you’re unlucky enough to be downwind of the plant your senses will be overwhelmed by the smell of burnt hair that makes Quaker Oats seem like a faint potpourri. On particularly hot and cloudy days, there’s no escaping the smell unless you leave town for the day. The smell is so bad that for decades the town had a dedicated complaint hotline (I’m not sure if the hotline is still active or not). [MNW note: Helluva strike by corn processors in Clinton in the early 1980s. Check out their stuff at the Clinton Corn Strike Oral History archive.]

BRT: Nebraska has a locally popular salad dressing called Dorothy Lynch that used to be made in a tiny town near Grand Island, but now, I believe is manufactured in Columbus, NE. As for local smells, many a Nebraska town falls victim to a poorly located feed lot, though happily, that’s not generally a problem in my location.

Jesse: Omaha also has the Kellogg’s plant which makes corn flakes…which isn’t great. It also makes Cocoa Puffs, which is decidedly amazing.

MNW: I grew up near (but, thank God, not in) South Saint Paul, MN, which was once home to the Armour Meatpacking plants along the Mississippi River. They bulldozed, dug up, and cemented over the stockyards, but that scent doesn’t just go away. (Also there are, like, 3 chemical treatment plants up and down the river at that point, and yeesh.)

In Milwaukee, as well, you were treated to a few distinct smells depending on which way the wind was blowing. From the north and maybe the west? Welcome to the yeasty wet-dog smell of Miller and Lakefront breweries. From the south? Hello, fertilizer. From the east? Diatoms and other plant shit giving the whole town a nice, fishy odor.

Oh jeez, I didn’t answer my own question. Minneapolis has Pillsbury and Betty Crocker, which, I mean...

...but beez brings up a lovely point about “all the Midwestern small towns manufacture something, right?” — check out, if you like histories of mid-sized Midwestern cities, Jon Teaford’s still-timely Cities of the Heartland! It talks about furniture-making in Rockford and Grand Rapids; distilling and Caterpillar in Peoria; automotives in Kenosha, Racine, and South Bend...there’s so much there. Seriously. Good read. Recommend. Go do it.

Question #8-4: Iowa Record Predictions

Much like the roll of the dice on a drive through Cedar Rapids, it’s Iowa football. Maybe once in a blue moon you’ll get lucky and it’ll be Crunch Berry Day, but mostly it’s just your usual bowl of oatmeal.

And the schedule reeks of that comfortable, lumpy sameness. Iowa plays two of its usual mid-major tomato cans—this year the Miami-Ohio Redhawks and Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders—and its inbred, in-state kissin’ cousin, the Iowa St. Cyclones. Hooray!

From there, though, if the Hawkeyes get off to a bad start...this could get ugly in a hurry. Going to the Big House could be bad, and if a toss-up home game with Penn State goes pear-shaped, three straight games with Big Ten West bugaboos Purdue, Northwestern, and wisconsin could have the Hawkeyes staring at anything from 0-5 to 4-1 in conference play by mid-November.

I mean, the comfortable three-game walk-in should get the Hawkeyes to 6-6, but...

Easy one as usual: Tell us how the Hawkeyes finish in 2019.

Bonus: Ah, the Iowa State game. There’s nothing like it in the world, is there? God bless El Assico, and God bless the state of Iowa for continuing to bless us with its bounty of shit. Tell us about your school’s high-risk, no-reward non-conference boners of recent memory. Anything long-term you’d like to vent about?

BRT: I see Iowa at 7-5 this year. This is on the lower end of their pre-ordained 7-8 wins, but I don’t like Iowa, so I’m thinking optimistically. They shall struggle heroically through those tough first four weeks, convincing themselves they’re going somewhere because they beat ISU even though they totes don’t care about ISU, you guys. Losses come to Michigan, PSU, Northwestern or Purdue, Wisconsin, and Nebraska. That’s right, bitches. I’m going to keep guessing this until it comes true. It was surprisingly close to happening last year, which was hilarious, because we were a four-win team. This year we might be a five-win team, and Iowa might be the difference. Who knows.

Nebraska doesn’t tend to have long-term non-cons, at least not to the scale of El Assico. It seems like they’re trying to go back to the Big 12 well, but I don’t think that’s a horrible idea, actually, in terms of fan service. As for high-risk, no-reward… I mean, we lost to what, Troy, last year? That was pretty no reward.

Thumpasaurus: I’m giving Iowa a clean slate in the non-conference, and then I believe I have them losing to Michigan, Nebraska, and either Purdue or Wisconsin. I did all of these in one go back in May so I don’t completely remember.

It ruled when Illinois was described by Tampa news as a “trap game” for South Florida last year. I am VERY worried about playing Illinois State next year. Illinois has still never lost to an FCS team and I don’t know why our AD would risk that perfect record while the team is still vulnerable.

I’m assuming the last part of that bonus question wasn’t directed to me.

Beez: Iowa 2019: 7-5. I’m down-ish on Iowa in 2019, because I don’t believe in the offense or secondary, that schedule is tough, the division is getting better overall, and I don’t like Iowa and hope they lose a lot.

They’re losing one of the Michigan/PSU games. Losing to Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Assuming they squeak by Iowa State, they’ve gotta win 2 of Purdue, NW, and the other Michigan/PSU team just to get to 7-5. They’re not losing to Illinois, Rutgers, or the other warmup teams.

Bonus: No response to the question, just shouts for the use of “boner”

WSR: 7-5, 5-4 B1G. Losses to Iowa State and Minnesota will sting, and losses to Michigan and Penn State will hurt. And that loss to Northwestern will just confuse the hell out of them all winter long. That should still be good enough for 2nd or 3rd in the West.

Boilerman: 7-5. Iowa’s MO last year was beat up on clownfraudtrash teams and choke against teams with a pulse. I don’t see that changing this season.

Pretty sure we covered the second part of that question by naming the award after Purdue last year. Thanks for dragging up those memories from the deep, asshole.

And fuck whoever keeps scheduling Purdue’s first game of the season on the road. This year @Nevada, 2015 @Marshall, and 2013 @Cincinnati. Knock that shit off. There is nothing, NOTHING, I say, to gain from starting on the road against a mid-major.

Andrew: Football season comes. Iowa goes 8-4 and probably loses their bowl. Sunrise, sunset.

Oh a noncon series you can’t wrap your head around? How about agreeing to go to fucking Tempe in early September to play an ASU team that would have yielded no praise if MSU had won, but rightly brought ridicule when it turned into the prototype Dantonio loss? I’m all for scheduling P5 opponents, but that should have been a trip made in November or not at all.

MNW: For all my bluster, it’s an 8-4 (5-4) Iowa. I’m willing to believe the defense gets them about 6 or 7 wins just on the strength of being the Iowa defense, but that offense...I don’t believe in Nate Stanley and Mekhi Sargent as the answer. Well, really I just don’t believe that a ‘meh’ running back-by-committee setup, the loss of two first-round NFL draft talents, and the continued existence of Kirk and Brian Ferentz are the answer.

Now, I could be well wrong! A formidable pair of All-B1G tackles could create breakout conditions for Stanley, Sargent, Toren Young, and Ivory Kelly-Martin. Maybe some young speedster emerges in the Hawks’ WR corps. But if a team can hold off A.J. Epenesa and get the ball out of their QB’s hands and down field, Iowa will struggle.

They’ll split their crossover games and go 4-0 against their soft 4-game non-conference schedule (how Barta managed that, I’ll never know), and then kind of ‘meh’ their way into a tie for third place in the East. Congrats and enjoy the Belk Bowl (or whatever).

Oh right, low-reward non-conference games. Boilerman mentioned the pain of going on road trips to play non-conference games, and I sure am excited for Northwestern to head down for games at Rice and an underwater Tulane in 2029 and 2025, respectively. And can we stop doing the Duke thing? No, because the idea is right in theory, but similar to the Michigan State-Arizona State series in that Northwestern will get no attention for a win and lots of side-eye for a loss. Which is what they’ve been doing to Duke lately.

BrianB2: Wins: Miami (OH), Rutgers, Cyclones, Middle Tennessee, Purdue, Northwestern, Minnesota, Illinois.

Losses: The other ones.

Oh hey, look, you’re 8-4!...again. I do hope that your jersey brethren in the professional ranks finish with a similar win total. I am just thankful that I don’t have to watch Maryland struggle to get 115 yards of total offense against the Hawkeyes this year while simultaneously having to reluctantly accept the fact that you guys have one of, if not the best, traditions in college football.

Jesse: Iowa has some relative expectations to be not-awful which means it’s probably 7-5 or 8-4, which isn’t specifically bad, but also isn’t something that they’re excited about. If I have to pick losses, I’m thinking, three away games—let’s go El Assico, Michigan, and Northwestern for no reason—and an inexplicable home loss—Purdue, coming off a Penn State win.

Stew: Call me a homer, because, yeah, I probably am, but I think Iowa can squeeze 9-3 out of that relatively tough schedule. Iowa’s overall talent is as high as it’s been in a while. The OL and QB are both going to be good to great. The running game sucks, but will still likely improve a bit over last season. The defense will be great, with a fearsome DL and capable secondary. However, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised by anything between 7-5 and 10-2, though.

Creighton: Whatever nerds, we’re going 10-2. I’m not offering any further explanation, nor will I be reading the comments.


What’s Iowa’s Big Ten record?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    2-7 or worse
    (9 votes)
  • 2%
    (8 votes)
  • 14%
    (42 votes)
  • 36%
    (107 votes)
  • 18%
    (55 votes)
  • 25%
    7-2 or better
    (76 votes)
297 votes total Vote Now


And so how do the Hawkeyes finish up overall?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    5-7 or worse
    (12 votes)
  • 6%
    (20 votes)
  • 25%
    (78 votes)
  • 34%
    (106 votes)
  • 16%
    (52 votes)
  • 12%
    10-2 or better
    (39 votes)
307 votes total Vote Now

Let us know your picks and answers in the comments!