With its season at a crossroads, history suggests that Iowa's 17th Halloween contest will tell us if the Hawkeyes' 2020 will be a dream or a nightmare.
|Year||Opponent||Result||Iowa's Final Record|
|1931||George Washington||W, 7-0||1-6-1|
|1936||at Indiana||L, 13-6||3-4-1|
|1953||at Wisconsin||L, 10-6||5-3-1|
|1959||Kansas State||W, 53-0||5-4|
|1964||Ohio State||L, 21-19||3-6|
|1970||at Minnesota||T, 14-14||3-6-1|
|1981||at Illinois||L, 24-7||8-4|
|1992||Ohio State||L, 38-15||5-7|
|1998||at Purdue||L, 36-14||3-8|
Iowa has played 16 times on Halloween, posting a very Iowa-like all-time record of 7-8-1. Since 1970, the Hawkeyes are 3-3-1 on October 31.
The last five times Iowa has played on Halloween, the final result has served as a harbinger of how the rest of the Hawkeyes' season would unfold. Iowa was victorious on October 31 in 1987, 2009, and 2015. The Hawkeyes went on to win 10+ games in each season.
On the flip side, Iowa lost on Halloween in 1981, 1992, and 1998. The '92 and '98 teams won a combined eight games. Only 1981’s 8-4 Rose Bowl team recovered from a loss at Illinois on October 31 to have a special season.
Recent history has been much kinder to the Hawkeyes on Halloween, especially in Iowa City. Iowa has won its last two October 31 contests highlighted by a pair of the more memorable pick-sixes in school history.
In the 2015 game against Maryland, would-be Jim Thorpe Award winner Desmond King picked off Terrapins QB Perry Hills, returning the interception 88 yards to the house in a 31-15 Hawkeyes victory (pay no attention to the blatant block in the back by Greg Mabin):
And of course, in 2009, 8-0 and #4 Iowa was on the ropes, trailing Indiana 21-7. Midway through the third quarter, the Hoosiers lined up for third and goal from the Iowa 2-yard line and Tyler Sash, well, ya'll know the rest:
TRICK OR TREAT IOWA CITY INDEED. (Shout out to @PV_GIA for the clip)
With the Hawkeyes staring 0-2 in the face on Saturday, Iowa finds itself at an early-season fork in the road. 2020's Halloween contest feels like it'll follow history and serve as this year's bellwether: Win and keep the prospects of a special season on the table or lose and all of this can quickly spiral into a horror movie.
Hey Hawkeyes, History Says Run the Damn Ball!
Since the Big Ten went to an East-West divisional alignment in 2014, Iowa and jNW are the only teams not named Wisconsin to make the Big Ten Championship game (here's looking at you, Nebraska). The Hawkeyes and Wildcats have never met on Halloween, but their last two meetings at Kinnick Stadium have still been downright scary.
Two years ago, Iowa capped off a ridiculous late-season collapse with an ugly 14-10 loss inside a mostly-frozen Kinnick Stadium. Isaiah Bowser ripped the Hawkeyes for 165 yards on the ground in helping jNW clinch the Big Ten West title. In 2016, a 1-3 Wildcats squad walked into Kinnick and racked up 362 yards, including 171 on the ground from Justin Jackson, in a 38-31 win.
Besides suffering the indignity of losing to jNW in consecutive home games, Bowser and Jackson’s huge days contributed to a larger, more disturbing set of recent trends for the Hawkeyes in this series:
- In their last two meetings in Iowa City, the Wildcats have out-rushed Iowa by a combined total of 382-143.
- Since 1995, Iowa is only 10-13 (.434) against jNW.
- Under Ferentz (since 1999), the Hawkeyes are 9-10 against the Wildcats, including a 5-5 record in games played in Iowa City.
- In the last six meetings in this series, the team that rushes for more yards has won every time (Iowa is 3-3).
Ferentz (depending on who you ask) is an Iowa football legend, but a losing record to jNW is a big stain on his on-field ledger. History is screaming to us that the Hawkeyes will need to run the damn ball and run it well to not only win on Saturday, but also to reverse some of their overarching mediocre trends in this series. That should start with, I don't know, #FREETYLERGOODSON.
(Sees jNW ran for 325(!) yards last week) #PLEASEFREETYLERGOODSON!!!
Finally, with Iowa desperately needing a win this week let's leave on a high note courtesy of the Hawkeyes' last win over the Wildcats in Iowa City, a 48-7 blowout in 2014. Enter Ben Niemann: