Wow...it's been about a year and a half since I last posted here. Guess I finally did something exciting enough to share. My 24-year old son and I made the last minute decision to head over to Iowa City for the Hawkeyes' prime time show down with the Nittany Lions of Penn State. I know a lot of Hawkeye fans who thought we would probably get blown out by PSU like we did last year at their place, but I had faith that the magic of Kinnick Stadium could help the Hawkeyes keep it close if not win outright.
We decided we were going to make a day of it and go over early and tailgate even though the weather was predicted to be unseasonably hot for late September. I borrowed my sister-in-law's portable DirecTV satellite setup and we reserved a portable generator from the local A to Z Rental. I took care of the menu and sent my son to buy the beer since he is a Cicerone certified beer expert that is the bar and restaurant manager of a Flix Brewhouse here in Des Moines.
We met at my house at 7 am and filled up the cooler and then headed to the grocery store to grab a few last minute supplies and then dashed over to the rental place to pick up the generator. We stopped to put fuel in the generator and to buy a couple gallons of extra gas just in case to make it through the afternoon and were on the road by 8 o'clock.
We got to Iowa City about 10 am and parked at the Finkbine golf course about a mile or so from the stadium. It was already plenty hot at 10 and we were both fairly drenched in sweat by the time we had everything setup about half an hour later. It took about 30 minutes for the satellite dish to get all dialed in to the satellite signal and we cracked our first beer (and ice cold bottle of water) at about 11:15.
The one piece of tailgating equipment we didn't bring was a tent for shade. We don't own one and I couldn't find one to borrow on short notice. I was too cheap to spend the $100 or so to purchase one at Sam's Club, but we figured we could tough it out with enough cold beverages and a couple of box fans. We were wrong,
We were able to steal some shade from our neighbors, but by noon the sun was so high you couldn't get shade unless you were directly under their tent. We had a bite to eat and watched all the early start college football games up until halftime and then we started discussing options. We finally decide to pack everything up and head downtown to grab a beverage and some freshly prepared food. My son booked an uber to take us downtown and we decided it was the best $25 either of us had ever spent.
We killed about 3 hours downtown bar hopping and then caught the free shuttle from the old capitol building to historic Kinnick Stadium. We arrived just in time for the band's pregame performance and then it was game time. I won't go into a lot of details about the game, but suffice it to say the Hawkeyes played one of the prettiest ugly games. They gave up tons of yards, but almost no points...just a field goal and a safety in the first half. Iowa scored a late TD after an interception to make it 7-5 despite about a 225 yard difference in total offense.
The second half was a nail biter with Iowa taking the lead 19-15 with about 1:50 to go. Our D had been keeping their offense somewhat in check so I was feeling pretty good about our chances to maintain that lead and win the game. PSU worked the ball down the field and scored the game winning TD on 4th and goal from the 7 yard line as time expired. They were required to line up for the point after attempt, but they just took a knee after which their QB punted the ball which drew a chorus of boos from the Kinnick crowd. I heard he spent the first two minutes or so of his ESPN post game interview apologizing for it, so good on him I guess.
It took us about an hour and a half to walk back to our vehicle and escape the crowded parking lot. Thanks to the close finish almost nobody left early so it was congested.
All in all it was a great day even if we got our hopes dashed right at the end. The Kinnick crowd was raucous and loud and our beloved Hawkeyes proved they can play with a top 5 team. They have a few winnable games in a row now, so I believe they can contend for the Big Ten West and maybe a potential rematch with Penn State or OSU in the championship game.
P.S. If you haven't seen it yet, the Iowa Hawkeyes started a new tradition that we're really proud of. The brand new childrens hospital was just completed adjacent to Kinnick Stadium. The top floor facing Kinnick is like a giant press box designed so the very sick kids and their families can watch the home football games. At the end of the first quarter the whole stadium turns and waves to the kids in the hospital as a show of support for what they're going through. Since it was a night game they added the flashlights from their cell phones to make it an even cooler experience.