Digital Rewind: Fans enjoy a rare day on Easy Street
The triumph finally came easily for Iowa on Saturday against Northwestern.
A 48-7 shellacking of the Wildcats at Kinnick Stadium brought something new to the Hawk Central chat, too: near-universal positivity.
To be fair, much of the Hawkeyes' 6-2 start has come with significant warts, to the point where victory was often tinged with angst and stormy forecasts for the future.
Not Saturday, where Iowa's 24-point first quarter made a 3-1 Big Ten record a given and put (almost) all anxiety to rest.
"Blog (stinks) today," joked SparrowHawk late in the first half. "Only seeing us call the game like we've begged for all year … I'm going to have to think of positive things to say about our coaches!"
Similar reactions sprinkled the comments as the Hawkeyes barreled to an unassailable 38-7 edge at the break. A balanced effort of 262 passing yards and 221 more on the ground was punctuated by the re-emergence of Mark Weisman (94 yards, three touchdowns) and the intriguing debut of freshman Akrum Wadley (106 yards, 7.1 per carry), who brought out giddy hope in spades.
"Ooooh … Wadley dreams for everyone until next week!" said Blitz!
"First hundred-yard rusher of the year (in) Wadley!" exclaimed VAHawk. "I wonder what the odds were on that."
It was even a Wadley love-fest in the broadcast booth, where game analyst and former Iowa quarterback Chuck Long visited his old dormitory stomping grounds in one pre-taped segment.
"They have found a young running back here at Iowa which will help their depth for the rest of the year," he said.
Northwestern faced long odds all day against the Iowa defense, which limited the Wildcats to 180 total yards. The Wildcats' lone score came from a 18-yard drive spurred by Dillon Kidd's mishandled punt.
Louis Trinca-Pasat managed three sacks to lead the way, but another defensive player on the rise stole the hearts of the chat-goers.
"Drew Freaking Ott. Again," surmised BonduHawk, after one of the Trumbull, Neb., junior's six tackles that had the defensive excitement on a high.
Such was the impression Iowa left on the first 30 minutes that a halftime poll brought B-plus grades from 92 percent of respondents.
Don't expect the Era of Good Feelings to extend further into November, however. Come next week's key road game at Minnesota, the jitters and judgments will almost certainly be back.
Sure is nice for a breather every once in a while, though — and during a week that 's not a bye, to boot.
THE HICCUP: Kidd's mishandling of a first-quarter snap on a punt was the only real cause for concern, but it did bring laughs and knee-jerk reactions of sarcastic worry.
"Only Iowa could leave you nervous with a 24-0 lead at the end of one quarter," said BonduHawk.
There soon proved to be no cause for unrest.
EXCUSE ME? What was generally a well-called game in the booth by Long and Big Ten play-by-play man Eric Collins had one head-scratching moment.
Following Kidd's punting gaffe, Northwestern made the most of the excellent field position or its lone touchdown of the day. Justin Jackson's 1-yard run prompted Collins to say that Northwestern was "right back in this one" at 24-7.
A three-score deficit on the road? Not quite. Especially when the Wildcats were lumbering in single-digit yardage on total offense for much of the first half, and when Iowa responded to the Wildcats' score with a 31-yard touchdown toss from Jake Rudock to Tevaun Smith.
The drive was 6 minutes, 10 seconds in length, covered 75 yards and lasted 12 plays. And Northwestern was right back out of this one, if they were ever in it to begin with.
MAD UPS: Northwestern did itself no favors Saturday, including missing a wide-open passing play on a fourth-and-goal that would have at least scraped the Wildcats into double digits.
They wouldn't have gotten there, though, without an incredible leaping catch by Mike McHugh.
First, there's the jump and a one-handed grab.
Then, he plants a foot down inbounds.
The call on the field was an incomplete pass, but it was an easy overturn, and a tip of the cap to McHugh.
Join us each week for live coverage of Iowa football. Catch a replay of this week's chat here.