Brown: Compare Hawkeyes to 2009? Not now, but maybe later
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa’s football team is off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2009. So how does that Ricky Stanzi team compare to this C.J. Beathard team?
Don’t go there, running back Jordan Canzeri said.
“I wouldn’t say we’re looking to be like a team in the past,” Canzeri said. “This is the 2015 team. This season is our own. We’ve been told about the comparisons, and the great players they had on that team. We’re different. We don’t want to be like a previous team. We want to be a great team on our own, and make 2015 a team that everyone talks about in the future.”
The comparison game is always a slippery slope. There’s strength of schedule to consider. And where the game is played. And injuries. And good fortune. If the Hawkeyes hadn’t blocked consecutive field goals against Northern Iowa in the 2009 opener, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
But they did block them. And then they just kept winning, nine in a row, until Stanzi injured his knee on a sack and fumble in the end zone that led to a 17-10 loss to Northwestern. That team found a way to win, and it wasn’t always pretty. They escaped Arkansas State 24-21 and rallied from a 21-7 deficit to beat Indiana. They also ended the season with an 11-2 record after a victory over Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
That was one of four Kirk Ferentz-coached teams to finish the reason ranked in the top 10. This team hasn’t been ranked. There’s a lot of games to be won before comparisons between the two teams can be made.
“We’re not that far down the road,” Ferentz said when asked if he talked to his team about that 2009 season.
Even a monumental effort by North Texas on Saturday won’t prevent Iowa from improving to 4-0 heading into the Big Ten opener at Wisconsin. This will be Iowa’s first trip to Madison since 2009, when a 20-10 victory opened a lot of eyes.
If this Iowa team wins at Wisconsin, the preseason Big Ten West Division favorite, then it will be time to start the comparison discussion.
Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.