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Miller Time: Northwestern Postgame

Miller Time: Northwestern Postgame

11/10/2002 by Jon Miller of Hawkeye Nation


Since I will be pretty busy this week with the birth of our first child, I thought I had better get a few thoughts down before the big day.

Speaking of big days, could the game against Northwestern have gone any better for Iowa? They were able to get up early, they were able to sit most of the starters for the better part of two quarters, they were able to recognize some key contributors and the home crowd was able to enjoy the last home game of the season in grand style.

I have to admit to getting a bit emotional when Steinbach, Porter, Nelson, Sobieski and Lightfoot jogged off the field, hand in hand to a rousing ovation in the third quarter.

Offensive linemen do not typically grab the headlines or get much of the glory, but I thank Kirk Ferentz for allowing that to happen.

When you consider how far Iowa has come with most of those players, plus junior Robert Gallery, growing up on the line before our eyes, it made the moment all the more enjoyable.

Nelson has started every game of his Iowa career, including 11 starts as a freshman. Steinbach and Lightfoot had a few starts in 1999 as freshmen and playing in most or all of the games. David Porter also played that year. Sobieski had foot and shoulder surgery in 1999 and took one of two medical redshirts. Robert Gallery redshirted in 1999 and was listed as the first team tight end coming out of the 2000 spring practice session.

Iowa was 1-10 in 1999, 3-9 in 2000, 7-5 last year and now they are almost on top of the college football world in 2002. The Coaches voted Iowa as the 5th best team in the nation on Sunday while the writers have them at #6.

And the same names are opening the holes for the Hawkeyes. What a group and they will not be forgotten. Thanks to Ferentz for letting them make the curtain call on Saturday, as that picture will not leave our memories any time soon.

BRAD BANKS makes the extraordinary look routine. With his 10 for 10 (197-yards), three passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdown day on Saturday, Banks inched closer to Hawkeye immortality. With 23 passing touchdowns on the season to just four interceptions, Banks is at worst having one of the two best seasons in Iowa history.

Before it is all said and done, Banks should be on the invite list to the New York Athletic Club in early December and his 2002 masterpiece will be difficult for any future Iowa quarterback to top. I keep reminding friends and family to soak it all up, as we are witnessing a performance unlike anything we have seen at Iowa.

The BCS math is causing major headaches already, but one thing is certain: A win against the Golden Gophers on Saturday would put Iowa at 11-1 and no worse than a share of the Big Ten Championship. I feel that somehow, someway, after all the dust has settled, Iowa will play in one of the four BCS bowls. My bet is that Ohio State gets tripped up at either Illinois or home against Michigan and Iowa will be playing in Pasadena against Washington State.

Though Iowa’s regular season is over in less than a week, and that does not seem possible, that does not mean that Hawkeye football fans will be putting away the pom poms or packing up their black and gold right away.

Should Ohio State beat Illinois this weekend, Iowa fans will be signing ‘Hail to the Victors’ on November 23rd in their homes and in sports bars across the country. It could be fun rooting for the Wolverines as if we were life long supporters of the Big Blue. There may be a chance that I will show up somewhere in central Iowa on that day to watch the Michigan v OSU game with fellow Hawkeye fans, so stay tuned for that announcement.

If Michigan or Illinois does not top Ohio State, then get ready to don your best gladiator gear as Iowa fans will become supporters of the garnet and gold of the USC Trojans on November 30th as the So. Cal’s will host the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

It is never hard for me to root against Notre Dame (and yes, closet Irish fans, I appreciate Notre Dame’s history, tradition and success but it’s just a fun rivalry that I have with several friends of mine who are Irish backers, so please don’t rush to your email composition box) and it will be all the more easy on that day.

If Notre Dame loses again (and they play Rutgers and USC), and IF Iowa beats Minnesota next week, it would be likely that Iowa would be assured of a BCS Bowl slot. If not the Rose, then possibly in the Orange against likely ACC Champ Florida State or in the Sugar against likely SEC Champ Georgia.

But of course, there are still too many scenarios to work out before that happens.

One thing you can be sure of: the pollsters are not going to allow another debacle like last year that pits a team that didn’t even win its conference in the National Title game. Oklahoma should win the rest of its games, thus keeping Big 12 South rival Texas out of the B12 title game in Houston.

If Texas wins out @ Texas Tech and home against Texas A & M, they would be poised to create another 2001 scenario that saw the Huskers sneak through the BCS backdoor and into the title game where they were trounced by Miami.

You might see the pollsters ‘penalize’ Texas in the voting as the season goes on to avoid that scenario repeating itself.

But then again, if the majority of the pollsters want to do away with the BCS and institute a playoff system, they might like to see another bogus National Championship game.

Since 1955, and in seasons where both the AP and the Coaches poll ranked the teams either before or after the bowls, there have been just five split national titles. There have been some years where the AP has had its poll after the bowls while the coaches had their poll before the bowls, so I don’t think you can count those because they did not take in the same criteria into consideration. That happened six times.

So 56 years of comparable polling, there have been just five split titles.

In the four years of the BCS, there has already been one big controversy (Nebraska over Oregon or Colorado last year). When the TCU v Southern Mississippi determined who got to play Miami for the title last year, you have a bad system.

If it were up to me, I would do away with the BCS and go back to the old bowl system. But then again, I am more of a traditionalist. For the record, I don’t like the Designated Hitter, either.

One final personal note: I will be away from the website for much of this week as far as day to day monitoring and writing goes, as my wife and I expect to give birth to our first child sometime between Tuesday and Thursday. I will be back in the saddle again next Sunday and already have the VCR set up to tape the Minnesota game in case we have not returned home by kickoff.

And even if we have come home before the start of the Minnesota game, I will likely be learning how to change diapers and fluttering to and fro like a papa bird taking care of his family. I am looking forward to that more than anything.

2002 will truly be the best year of my life to date.

Hawkeye NationHawkeye Nation was founded by Jon Miller, and later acquired by Rivals and Sports Illustrated. You can visit them at

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Miller Time: Northwestern Postgame - Summary of Iowa football and basketball games