Game Day Observations: Iowa
Well, that felt good.
In all my years of attending Penn State games, I’ve seen my fair share of great victories, and I’ve also seen my fair share of crushing defeats. But never have I seen a Penn State team go into another Big Ten team’s stadium in primetime and absolutely demolish its opponent.
That’s exactly what I saw Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. Here’s what I took away from the incredible atmosphere:
- Iowa is one of the better looking campuses in the conference, with a quiet setting broken up by the Iowa River in the middle. It reminds me a lot of Penn State, with a lot less downtown activity.
- Kinnick Stadium is nestled in the middle of a neighborhood with a hospital on one side and suburban housing on the other. It’s an old concrete structure, and the bowl seating makes for an intimidating atmosphere.
- The tailgating scene ranks in the top half of the Big Ten, with several large parking lots surrounding the stadium. The capacity was not near as large as Penn State, but respectable nonetheless. Most set ups had a party-like atmosphere, and most people got in at least 6 hours of tailgating throughout the day. The coolest area was on top of a parking garage overlooking the stadium, where dozens of cars set up their spreads before the game.
- The fans were a mixed bag, like most places. By now you’ve probably seen the five students dressed up like Jerry Sandusky (They left in the middle of the third quarter, for what it’s worth), and of course there was that guy behind me who kept yelling “PEDO STATE!!” until Penn State went up 24-0. However, there was an overwhelming number of hospitable fans too who were a lot more friendly than I can admit I would be after taking a beating like that one.
- Iowa sure does love their farms. The Hawkeyes came out behind flags that spelled out “ANF” (American’s Need Farmers) and every person who entered the stadium received a yellow rally towel that donned the same phrase. One promotion on the jumbotron was the “Cyhawk race to the game” which consisted of a dude on a tractor speeding to the stadium from a farm. So yeah, I never forgot the fact that I was in Iowa.
- The stadium atmosphere was second to only Beaver Stadium in my trips around the Big Ten. It was almost entirely organic, with essentially no piped in music over the loudspeaker during drives. Literally, the only time music played over the speaker was during timeouts or at the end of the quarter. The rest of the game consisted solely of crowd and band noise. I really hope whoever controls Beaver Stadium’s game day sound was at this game, because Kinnick Stadium was fantastic in that respect.
- That being said, the Band played California Gurls and Call Me Maybe far too many times…but hey, better than “Minnie the Moocher” by Cab Calloway (aka Hidey Hidey Hidey Ho) right?
- I’ve never heard fans complain about calls so much. Every time Penn State had a big play, the Iowa faithful would collectively scream “HOLDING!!!”
- Despite being in row 33, I could clearly hear Bill O’Brien curse out Bill Belton after the unsportsmanlike penalty. Let’s just say it wasn’t a fun couple of minutes to be Bill Belton.
- Iowa fans started saying some interesting things after the game got out of reach, including:
“Every play just makes me want to vomit.”
“When all these Sandusky sanctions are over, they’re going to be national title contenders.”
“This isn’t Joe Paterno’s Penn State anymore.”
And my personal favorite:
Man to his wife: “Well, at least we don’t rape kids at our school.”
Wife: “Honey, we’re getting raped right now.”
- Iowa students also booed their team off the field at halftime, various times in the third quarter, and after the game. The student section was almost entirely empty by the end of the game, with only a few kids sporting “#KF100” painted on their chests, minus one of the zeros who must’ve left early. (Kirk Ferentz won his 100th game the week before).
- The most excited Iowa fans got the entire game was for the “Pancheros Burrito Lift” on the jumbotron. This consisted of the entire stadium making the “Raise the roof!” motions with their hands while a mini Pancheros logo bounced up and down with the crowd. I’ve never seen such jubilation…and I’m not quite sure why.
- It’s hard to criticize Coach O’Brien after this game, but I’m not quite sure what he was doing lining up to go for it on 4th down up 31-0 late in the game. That was borderline disrespectful. I appreciate the fact that the new coaching staff takes more risks than the old one, but there’s no reason to go for it on 4th down with that big of a lead.
- And then, of course, Sam Ficken had the field goal attempt blocked when O’Brien called timeout and decided to kick.
- My girlfriend and I were asked no less than six times by Iowans if we were married -– from cab drivers to random fans. The explanation “We’re only 20 years old” did not seem to be sufficient. “We don’t do that in Pennsylvania,” didn’t seem to go over too well either. Oh, Iowa…
We’ll be back next week for the Whitehouse game against Ohio State. Many are already declaring it as similar in significance to the 2005 Ohio State game. We will see, but there’s no question Penn State fans are going to give it all we have on Saturday.