College football opportunities don’t get much bigger than the one Iowa has on Saturday.
You go into Ohio Stadium, knock off Ohio State, and the world is your oyster. Rebuilding, regrouping? Forget it. You’re there, babe. You’ve shot into the sports stratosphere.
Ten Big Ten opponents and 18 teams overall have tried to beat Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes over the last two seasons. All failed. Which only adds to the prestige that will come to the first crew that beats a Meyer-coached OSU club.
Imagine the inroads that could be made with the many Ohio kids the Hawkeyes recruit if they could simply say “Did you see us beat the Buckeyes in the Horseshoe? That’s how we roll.”
There’s one little problem: Actually winning the game. But it’s like Jimmy Dugan said about baseball in “A League of Their Own.”
It’s supposed to be hard! If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard … is what makes it great!
Ohio State is ranked fourth in the Associated Press poll. The last time Iowa faced someone ranked that high or higher was in 2008, against No. 3 Penn State. The Hawkeyes won, 24-23, and it felt like the program took a quantum leap.
That was in Iowa City, though. Today is Columbus, the most-imposing venue in the Big Ten against a team with the nation’s longest win streak. All the better if you want to make Mark May’s knees freeze and Lou Holtz’s liver quiver.
The reality is the deck is stacked. The Buckeyes are the only Big Ten team to win a BCS title, the only Big Ten team to even appear in a BCS title game. With its tradition, resources and recruiting base, Ohio State will always have the upper hand as long as its coach is capable and driven.
Meyer is far more than capable, and far more than driven. It was probably like a punch to the stomachs of the other 11 Big Ten head coaches when it was announced Meyer would take the OSU job. Because he leaves no stones unturned. You don’t build a 122-23 record as a head coach over four different stops without being relentless and using all available assets.
You don’t walk into a place that was 6-7 in 2011 and wallowing in self-pity about NCAA sanctions brought on by former coach Jim Tressel, and win your first 18 games. Unless, that is, you were everything the Bucknuts wanted in a head coach.
Meyer has won two national-championships, which is two more than the rest of the Big Ten’s coaches combined. Meyer was never going to restart his coaching career at an Indiana or Minnesota. He demands perfection and championships, just like his program’s fans.
“They’ve got guys that look like big‑time football players. Play like them. They’re coached like them,” Ferentz said Tuesday.
Teams in the same conference play for different things. An Ohio State win Saturday would be just another concrete block in the Horseshoe’s wall. But if the Hawkeyes triumph, people in Iowa will write songs and sonnets about this day.
They may want to watch all four quarters before spending any ink or bandwidth.