No. 1 Alabama wins by 2. An unranked team has the ball with a minute left and a chance to tie No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman. No. 6 Clemson wins by 6 with an underwhelming final score of 14-8.

No. 5 Iowa beats Kent State 30-7, limits the nation’s leading rushing attack to 79 yards and is greeted by headlines using phrases like “more reps needed” and words like “angst.”

Ouch. Tough crowd.


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Iowa scored 30. Iowa gave up 7. Covered the opening line. By any measure that includes the end result, the game was a success.

Was there angst when the Golden Flashes had the ball at the 1 down 9 before fumbling? Yes. But I’ve seen doomsday, fire-everything angst among fans even when the Hawkeyes were winning in Madison.

Even Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz piled on a bit.

Of course, he hadn’t watched the other top 10 teams, only his. Those teams I listed above? Two actually dropped in the latest AP Poll released Sunday, but not Iowa.

That tweet is blowing up more than anything I offered that was positive from Saturday — and I’d argue my Behr Dynasty gif is ahead of its time, especially if that commercial continues to be shown all football season as much as it was Saturday. It’s potential is Barbasol flannel-and-pancakes level in the Hall of Weird. More reps needed, but shoot for the moon.

Iowa’s Hall of Fame defense already sits among the stars, and maybe college football fans and writers just aren’t used to that style anymore. Hawkeyes reporters, of course, should be. Iowa has given up 6, 17 and 7. We all know that 25 has been out of the question for 25 games.

The defense can win these games by itself — if you ignore that integral part of the offense that keeps taking off down the sidelines for 30-, 40- and 50-plus-yard scores. Tyler Goodson, take a bow. Career-high 153 yards and 3 touchdowns and you are not entertained? He’s getting his reps — in the highlights.

I had a young reporter on the Hawkeyes beat ask me last week about the 1981 Rose Bowl-bound Hawkeyes. Now, I’m old — and I’ve waxed nostalgic for years now about years like 2002, 2015, 1985, 2004 and 2009 and less obvious others like 2019, 2003 and 1991 — but I’m not quite old enough to have 1981 front-and-center in my mental Rolodex.

My best memories of Reggie Roby are from Tecmo Bowl.

Luckily, we have veterans on the Iowa beat who remember it well, and 1981 might be exactly the comp we need to cope with winning via punting and defense.

Don Doxsie writes: “It’s a rare thing when one of a team’s most spectacular players is its punter, but [Tory] Taylor is a marvel, just as Reggie Roby was 40 years ago.”

Pat Harty adds: “Though the game has changed dramatically since 1981, a team still can go a long way with a top-notch defense, and with a dynamic punter.”

All that seems to be missing are the outsized personalities, as Steve Batterson points out in this profile of two 1981 Hawks who became Hall of Famers.

We can only hope more characters emerge as more success does.

Perhaps that will make winning by 23 points with punting and defense leading the way more … tolerable.