The Monday Kickoff got a rare Saturday off, but is still here for you to talk about the weekend of college football.
So, let's look at the numbers from one place on Saturday when we could have been.
• 66 yards.
• 26 carries, 25 yards.
• 24 passing attempts, 8 completions, 1 interception.
• 14 points from the defense, 0 from the offense.
Iowa's 38-14 loss at Wisconsin was a disaster for everyone except cornerback Josh Jackson, who had an interception return and a fumble return for touchdowns, but we'll get to him in a little while.
Watching the game on television didn't tell me any more than what I would have seen at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison — the only thing it kept me from was the post-game reaction of the Iowa players and coach Kirk Ferentz, and judging from what I read and saw, there wasn't much to gain from that, either.
So, of course, the best place to head after the game for perspective is ... Twitter.
Besides the usual tweets about Ferentz's contract, the criticisms of offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, and the other overreactive nonsense that can come with a brutal defeat like this came a tweet from someone who made this point — anyone, after looking at the schedule at the beginning of the season, would have accepted a split in the two-game stretch of Ohio State at home and Wisconsin on the road.
So maybe that's how we should look at this defeat. Saturday's loss was magnified just from the fact that last week Iowa absolutely dominated Ohio State at Kinnick Stadium. They hung 55 points on the No. 3-ranked Buckeyes, and that doesn't happen very much in college football.
So what happened between that one week?
For that, we would probably have to dissect game film, and there's really no time for that.
Iowa's offense sputtered all day in Madison. Quarterback Nate Stanley never found a rhythm, the Hawkeyes' running game was smothered, and the receivers never seemed to be much help. Iowa's longest possession was six plays, 33 yards, and it ended with an interception. Four drives ended with negative yardage.
That's a recipe for disaster anywhere, but especially at Wisconsin, where the Badgers feed on any sort of misfortune. There's a reason why they're 10-0 and closing in on getting into the College Football Playoff.
Iowa was going to have to be at its best to win there, and instead the Hawkeyes were at their absolute worst.
Iowa squandered a defensive effort that seemed to get overlooked in the fact that the Badgers scored 38 points.
Jackson has become one of the best defensive players in the nation, and his two touchdown returns just added to that reputation. Linebacker Josey Jewell had 12 tackles, linebacker Bo Bower had 11. The Hawkeyes have five tackles for loss, including two sacks. Safety Jake Gervase also had an interception.
That kind of effort keeps the Hawkeyes in the game had they gotten anything from their offense.
The best advice on this is to shovel dirt on it and move on, because life should get better for the Hawkeyes. They get Purdue at home this Saturday — the Boilermakers are 4-6 overall — and then travel to play a Black Friday game against a Nebraska team that has faded into oblivion.
Chances are good that, on the night after Thanksgiving, we'll be talking about an 8-4 Iowa team heading to a decent bowl game. And really, that's all you could have expected out of this team.
It's best to just move on from Saturday, because that's one to forget.
LEATHERNECKS' POSTSEASON HOPES
By this time next week, we'll know the postseason path of Western Illinois.
The Leathernecks moved to 7-3 on Saturday with a 45-0 win at Indiana State. It was the sixth road win of the season for Western Illinois, which ranks fourth among FCS teams in the Sagarin ratings.
Western Illinois is solidly in the top 15 in the national rankings. The Leathernecks play host to Southern Illinois (4-6) this Saturday. A win likely gives Western Illinois a home game in the first round of the 24-team FCS playoffs, and could even get them a first-round bye, depending on what shakes out nationally in the final weekend.
Charlie Fisher, in his second season as coach, has done a masterful job with this program. With only four home games this season, the Leathernecks could have easily struggled with the constant travel, yet an experienced team with a veteran coaching staff never wavered.
There have been two defining moments for this team.
The first came in a 38-33 loss to South Dakota and former WIU coach Bob Nielson. The Leathernecks trailed 38-6 at one point, but had the ball for a chance to win the game in the final minute.
The other came two weeks ago at Illinois State, when the Leathernecks trailed 14-0 at halftime, then scored 31 unanswered points in the second half to take the win.
Linebacker Brett Taylor is one of the best defensive players in FCS play. Quarterback Sean McGuire, in his junior season, has been full of confidence. Wide receiver Jaelon Acklin has been beat up at times, but still has been McGuire's most consistent target.
Had they not faded late last season, the Leathernecks would be looking at three consecutive years in the playoffs. But even that fade was an education that has paid off this season.