Expectations can be a heavy burden. The Iowa Hawkeyes collapsed under the weight in their 34-27 loss to the Arizona Wildcats Saturday.
Down a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, in a situation that brought back hopeful reminders of last season, the Iowa Hawkeyes failed to live up to expectations after mistakes doomed the Hawkeyes early in the game.
A blocked punt turned into seven points for Arizona, a tipped ball returned the other way for a pick-six, a kickoff returned for a touchdown after finally getting on the board...
These are not the magical ingredients of the kind of comeback victory the Hawkeyes were so used to last season.
You can't give up 21 easy points to a ranked, home team that's trying to put itself on the college football map and expect to come out on top. It's not going to happen.
Also, it's inexcusable to leave at least 15 points on the field—two dropped passes early in the game that should have been touchdowns and an extra point late in the game that would have drastically changed the mentality of both teams.
But to dwell on all these factors is simply sour grapes.
Despite not coming out with a "W," Iowa showed the nation—the part that wasn't asleep, at least—it's mettle.
Iowa's vaunted defense gave up just 17 points to a very talented Nick Foles and, overall, the Arizona rushing attack was not a factor. Take away the touchdown Arizona tallied using an eight-yard playground gifted by the blocked punt and Iowa's defense only gave up 10 points.
The offense finally showed up, too. Iowa outscored Arizona 20-7 in the second half.
To steal a famous quote, the Wildcats "are who we thought they were...and we let them off the hook."
Arizona was a good team playing at home. Iowa's mistakes let the Wildcats off the hook.
On the bright side, mistakes are correctable.
The offensive line that gave up three sacks in a row (four if you count the sack nullified by a penalty) and never let a talented pair of running backs (more on that later in the week) get going can use the film to learn where and how Arizona's defense exploited weaknesses.
Don't fool yourself, the Iowa Hawkeyes are a good team still more than capable of challenging Ohio State and Wisconsin for the Big Ten title. Heck, look at Wisconsin's neat escape trick.
Arizona was a good team that more than likely shattered Iowa's BCS title hopes.
But, when life gives you lemons, make—Roses.
Next game, Ball State.
For more on the Iowa Hawkeyes, follow Iowa Featured Columnist Tim Weideman on Twitter @TimWeideman.
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