Game 12: Ohio State Buckeyes @ Iowa Hawkeyes
|GAME # 12
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Ohio State Buckeyes (9): 9-1
Each year, we try to make sure that there is a marquee game that we can really look forward to. This year, that game is Ohio State at Iowa.
This was also the game that carried a 3:45 a.m. wake up call to make the 6:00 a.m. flight to Moline via Minneapolis. Although I am not sure if 3:45 is considered a wake up call, a nap, or just staying up from the night before. Fortunately for Al, this coincides nicely with Mac’s feeding schedule.
The flight from LaGuardia to Minneapolis was uneventful and rather spacious. Delta graced us with a large plane that was half empty. This was quite nice for us, probably not so nice for Delta. But it was a 6:00 a.m. flight. The plane even had personal entertainment systems. Yes, I do concede that Al is better at Delta airline trivia than I am. But I still maintain that I have much more useless knowledge stored in my brain than he does. I guess that’s why I cannot remember my name but can recite lines from tv shows that haven’t been on since the early 90’s and bring up BJ & The Bear on each trip.
Minneapolis was a very nice airport and seemingly very oddly shaped. A note to ourselves for future reference; getting stranded in Minneapolis would be a much better option than getting stranded in another airport. I guess that is high praise. See, I am trying to be more positive!
The flight from Minneapolis to Moline had more people on it than LaGuardia to Minneapolis. A lot of Iowa gear was spotted on this flight including a few that were on our flight from LaGuardia. Enough Iowa gear was visible such that Al was obliged to stand up on the flight and announce what we were doing and solicit advice and opinions on what to do in Iowa City and anything else we should know about. He did not follow through on this. The flight was delayed because we did not have potable water. Did it make sense to delay this 30 minute flight for 20 minutes so that they could load water? But not to worry, the pilot told us he would ask if we could cut the corner flying into Moline so that we could make up time. Do I even want to know what that means? But the delay led to an epiphany for Al. To further poke Alex, he decided to (content has been edited due to Al not yet following through and his wish for this to be a surprise).
We landed in Moline, grabbed the rental car, and set off for Iowa City. Al’s pre-trip research indicated we should stop at Kelly’s Circle Tap in Davenport, Iowa because they have an honor system when paying the check. We decided to head to Iowa City instead, also foregoing a trip to the Field of Dreams field. So now we have something to do when we return to this part of Iowa.
Heading to Iowa City, we spotted signs for Iowa 80 – The World’s Largest Truck Stop in Walcott, Iowa. Of course we stopped there. Who sees signs like that and does not stop? My impression was that for the World’s Largest Truck Stop, it was pretty small. When something claims to be the World’s largest something, it better be ginormous. It wasn’t! Anyway, we had lunch. I highly recommend the grilled cheese, but Al did not fare as well. He learned a lesson most of us learn much earlier in life; it is generally best to avoid the buffet and to ask what the mystery meat is BEFORE you eat it.
Back on the road, we arrived in Iowa City and headed straight for Kinnick Stadium. A quick walk around and it was very impressive. But there was no getting into the stadium for photos or anything. Only one gate was open and security was very tight. Security here was tighter than at the airport. So we had to leave the photos and other stuff for tomorrow during the game.
We went over to the main campus for the usual walking tour of the school. The school was nice and very well integrated with the surrounding city. So much so, that during the entire trip we were unable to find a “main” entrance to the school. The downtown area immediately off campus was perfect for a college town. There had to be 50 bars and restaurants in a 3 block by 3 block area just off campus. They ranged from typical college bar to upscale and from greasy spoon to upscale restaurant. This was a phenomenal setup and was clearly the place that everyone went to party. We were informed that this was the place to be on game weekends the Friday night before the game and also right after the game as the entire stadium will leave the game and head here. This was by far the nicest setup of any school so far.
I should mention that while the bookstore was just average, they had plenty of aerial photos of Kinnick Stadium.
After wandering aimlessly in downtown Iowa City for awhile, we decided to head to the hotel. Plus, and I have not mentioned this yet, but it was really cold. We arrived at the Best Western Cantebury in Coralville, Iowa. This is two minutes off campus yet is in Coralville and not Iowa City. There must be a reason for this, but I digress. This hotel was the first and probably only (except for when we go to UNLV) themed hotel. Al maintains it was just bad 70’s décor. I maintain they were going for a theme. I actually kind of like the renaissance olde world style theme complete with moat. In any event, we got in a little R&R from the early wakeup.
Man vs. Food
At some point we had to move or risk falling asleep for the night. It was off to dinner in downtown Iowa City. And here I must explain something. Before the trips this year, I had the idea to do a man versus food challenge in each city. For those of you not familiar with the man versus food franchise, this is a food challenge where you need to eat a certain amalgamation of food within a certain time frame. The Travel Channel airs a series of one man going around and trying these challenges. There are also those challenges that do not make it on the show. Well, my brilliant idea was I was going to try and find one in each city and attempt it. It did not work out on any of the previous trips this year, but the stars finally aligned and The Pit in Iowa City was going to be the first attempt. So we headed there for dinner.
The Pit, a bbq joint, had what they call the quadruple bypass. It was a 7 pound casserole of chicken, turkey, pulled pork, pork loin, chili, bacon, tater tots, jalapenos, spicy bbq sauce, and cheese. If you could finish it in 30 minutes it was free. I asked if I could get it regular sauce instead of spicy and without jalapenos. It was agreed and the challenge was on. Apparently they do not get many takers on this challenge. While awaiting the quadruple bypass, I checked my email and there was an email from my mother-in-law about risk factors for heart disease or something like that. I did not pay much attention to the specific content, but the timing was certainly ironic. Irony can be very ironic. The food came out of the kitchen and of course it had jalapenos and spicy sauce. I was told that the challenge had to be as is. It would have been nice to know that beforehand, but I was still in. It was good food but I was unable to complete the challenge. I cannot blame the jalapenos or sauce, but I do blame the tater tots. The food was good but it was mostly tater tots. I had no problem finishing all the meat, chili, cheese and all else, but the tater tots did me in. There had to have been 4 pounds of those tots and I just could not do it. However, my wife and mother-in-law can rest easy, as I felt so bad afterward, I have decided that this man versus food idea was a very bad one. It is not a good idea to get yourself sick when traveling to a city where your goal is to experience the city, and not the local bathrooms. Or at least that is my current thinking. I reserve the right to change my mind should I find another challenge I want to attempt.
After dinner we wandered around the Friday night downtown Iowa City scene. It was exactly what you would expect a college bar scene to be. We had a few drinks at a bar called The Airliner which is apparently an Iowa City institution and had been recommended to Al. It was a good scene but eventually the early wake up call caught up to us and it was back to the hotel for some sleep before the game tomorrow.
One of the benefits of these trips is actually getting to sleep late. This is not the sleep late where you sleep until 8:00 because the kids have been up for two hours and it is impossible to keep them quiet any longer. This is the sleep late where you wonder if McDonald’s is still serving breakfast. And before my wife gets too upset, it was still breakfast. This was the nicest McDonald’s I have ever been in. It looked like a European lounge with flat screen TV’s all around the place. The only thing missing was a doorman and waiter service. Anyway, a nice healthy McDonald’s breakfast was had and then it was a cab to the stadium for some tailgating.
For once we were prepared. After the UConn debacle, I did the proper research on Iowa football and Iowa City. I knew all the tailgating spots and where to go and what to see. This was a great atmosphere and great tailgating. We wandered around but did not find the “Magic Bus”. We did find the Big Ass Turkey Leg guy. Not as good as advertised, but as I have stated in previous write-ups, a lot of this is timing. It could have been an off day or even just an off five minutes and we get a different impression than a regular. But nothing diminished my opinion of the environment in Iowa City. This is a great college football venue and environment.
After some further aimless wandering, we ended up in a tailgate. A very gracious thank you goes out to Gary N. for welcoming us into his tailgate. He had the biggest, baddest grill going with some awesome steak sandwiches. We also got an education on RV’s as he had a really nice one and we were very inquisitive. Sitting (or standing) in the tailgate, we had another epiphany…we really are not doing justice to these trips by not doing the tailgate thing full steam ahead. So we made up our minds that we would do some research into renting an RV for a game next year. If all goes well, it could become a regular thing.
At this point it was time to head into Kinnick Stadium for the game. Here we learned about an interesting law in Iowa City, you can drink beer in the parking lot but not on the streets. Meaning, you can drink on either side of the road, but you cannot cross the road with an open container. Sounds logical to me! As this was the first time we were able to get into the stadium, we did the obligatory picture taking before finding our way to our seats. We were on the 15 yard line about 60 rows up. Not bad. This was a game that was circled on the schedule as maybe a game of unbeatens. Ohio State came close to holding up their end of the bargain coming in with only one loss to Wisconsin and being in contention for the Big Ten (they still don’t know how to count or think the Big Ten is a brand or something). Iowa is another story. They were very much hyped in the preseason as this finally being the year they win the Big Ten and go to the Rose Bowl. As usual, Iowa’s hype outpaced its play on the field as they entered 7-3 with loses to Arizona, Wisconsin, and Northwestern. The loss to Arizona while not great, was forgivable as it was a quality opponent on the road. The loss to Wisconsin hurt Big Ten title chances but was survivable. The loss to Northwestern the week before this game to Ohio State was a disaster. It all but eliminated Iowa from the Big Ten title hunt and reduced them to spoilers. Iowa has the talent, but again failed to live up to lofty expectations. They would attempt to play spoiler in this game and eliminate Ohio State from the Big Ten title and a possible BCS berth. I picked with my brain instead of my heart and went with Ohio State. Al went with Iowa.
After a highly excellent flyover, the game kicked off. The teams traded punts before Iowa went on an 87 yard drive culminating in a 19 yard TD pass from Ricky Stanzi to Marvin McNutt for a 7-0 Iowa lead. Ohio State answered with a drive leading to a field goal for a 7-3 Iowa lead. This is the way that the first half would end and our streak of offensive shootouts was in jeopardy. Ohio State took the second half kickoff and drove 77 yards in 12 plays to take a 10-7 lead. Iowa then went on a 10 play drive for a tying field goal. A few punts later and we were off to the fourth quarter with a 10-10 game. Terrelle Pryor threw an INT and Iowa only needed two plays to cash in with a touchdown to go up 17-10 with 12 minutes remaining. Ohio State took the resulting kickoff and went 11 plays to the Iowa 31 before kicking a field goal with 7 minutes and change remaining to trail 17-13. Iowa then went three and out and the tension in Kinnick Stadium went up a whole bunch. The crowd consensus was that we have been here before and it will not end well. Ohio State had 4th and 10 from the 50. With the game on the line, Terrelle Pryor rushed for 14 yards and a first down. This took all the wind out of Iowa. It was clear sailing for Ohio State from there as they took a 20-17 lead with 1:47 to go. Four plays later, the game was over. Another win for me, another loss for Al. Although this was a hollow win for me as I was really pulling for the Hawkeyes. This was an excellent, well played football game. It was tremendously exciting and if the Hawkeyes had held up their end of the bargain, would have been a really fitting game if a Rose Bowl berth was on the line. The stadium was loud and rowdy throughout, but especially during the fourth quarter despite the fact that everyone could sense the impending doom of the beloved Hawkeyes. This game was everything we expected and more and fit with the overwhelming success of this trip.
The fans around us were quite nice and knowledgeable. There was not an a** in the bunch, of either kind. But it was very cold. Al summed it up nicely with, “I need a black Mt. Everest fleece with zippered pockets.” By the time the fourth quarter came, all the layers I had on were not doing their job and it was real cold.
After the game, we headed to downtown with the masses. I love the fact that when crossing the river, the pedestrians flow right into the middle of the street and cross the river along with the cars. Then, once on the other side, orderly go back onto the sidewalk. Classic. The downtown scene was a little subdued given the tough loss, but still did not disappoint. We had dinner at Formosa. One would not think that Iowa City would be a haven for sushi, but it was quite good, and had some interesting specialty rolls. After dinner, we had a few drinks surveyed the scene, and headed back to Ye Olde England also known as the Best Western.
We arose the next day and headed to campus. Again, there was no getting on the field for field goal kicking. Kinnick Stadium was locked up tight. There was really good security in Iowa City. However, this did not make us very happy. We again tried to find the main entrance to the school to take the standard Jarrett & Al standing by the school entrance sign photo. No such luck so we settled on a school building sign. Once that was complete, we headed off to the Moline airport. The advice of the day is to eat breakfast before passing through security in Moline. The deli after security is not edible.
The first leg of the return trip, Moline to Detroit, was fine. But in a pattern this year, the flight from Detroit to LaGuardia was delayed. We had a 35 minute connection which was going to be tight, but instead it was a three hour connection. Minneapolis would have been a better airport to have been delayed in. Eventually we made it back and closed the books on Year 3 of the quest. Twelve down and only one hundred eight to go. Although it looks like we have two or three more D1-A schools coming in. My wife was really glad this year has ended. Having all the games loaded to the end of the season was pushing our luck and trying her patience with me. Al needs to plan better when knocking up his wife so that we can continue to spread games out.
Ohio State would go onto the Sugar Bowl and defeat Arkansas to finish the year ranked #5 at 12-1. Iowa beat Missouri in the Insight Bowl and finished 8-5, in a very disappointing year. News would continue to get bad for Iowa during the offseason as 13 players were hospitalized after offseason workouts leading to further unrest within the program.
The RV ideas that we were solidified during this trip have had a little bit of staying power. Al and I attended an RV show in February 2011 to further our education and to get more ideas for how we can make an RV a part of our trips on a regular basis. We will keep you posted on developments, but we hope to have at least one RV trip in 2011.
Remember how I mentioned that the flyover before the game was “highly excellent”. Well here is why. The four air force pilots involved in the flyover were disciplined for among other things, flying above the speed of 300 knots below 10,000 feet mean sea level and flying over a congested area below 1,000 feet above ground level above the highest obstacle within 2,000 feet of the aircraft. According to the investigation, the highest elevation of the stadium is at the northwest corner of the press box, which is 160 feet above ground level. Cedar Rapids Approach Control verified that the aircraft cleared the scoreboard, which is 118 feet above ground level by 58 feet and were 16 feet above the press box, which put them at 176 feet above ground level. That is well below the minimum 1,000 foot standard. Additionally, the practice flyovers approached 400 knots, which is above the maximum speed of 300 knots. I am not sure about all that other than I really enjoyed that flyover.
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