Earlier today Spencer Hall posted a great thought experiment at SB Nation -- 17 college football moments that would have been even better with Twitter. Twitter can be awful, full of trolls, Russian bots, slurs, and staggering amounts of abuse. But -- but! -- as Spencer points out, and as anyone who's been on Twitter for the right game at the right moment can attest, Twitter can also be great. The replays, the jokes, the memes, the jokes, the instant feedback, the jokes... it can be an absolute blast, like hanging out with dozens (or hundreds, or thousands) of your funniest, most creative friends at a sports bar.
So it got me thinking: what Iowa games of yore would have been even better with a little Twitter frosting on top? Here are the 10 games I settled on. (If you're not a Twitter user, maybe envision what games would have incredibly fun with a BHGP/Go Iowa Awesome live thread as accompaniment, since at their best the live threads can duplicate much of what Twitter does well.) (Also, we're sticking to football games here, since that was the original remit of Spencer's post, but there would certainly be several Iowa hoops games or Iowa wrestling dual meets or tournaments that would have been a blast in this thought experiment, too.)
* #20 Iowa 14, #1 Notre Dame 14 (1953)
AKA, the "Fainting Irish" game. Iowa tied #1 Notre Dame 14-14 in South Bend in a game marked by chicanery on the part of the Irish. Notre Dame scored touchdowns on the final plays of the first and second half to tie the game and in both cases the touchdowns were set up by blatantly faked injuries to stop the clock. (On the two-minute drive at the end of the game, Notre Dame allegedly faked an injury after all eight plays.) If you haven't read about the game before, I highly recommend reading Neal Rozendaal's wonderfully detailed account. Needless to say, Notre Dame would have been absolutely roasted for this performance, especially if millions of people could have watched it live. The outcome of the game -- a tie snatched out of the jaws of victory -- would have been infuriating to watch as an Iowa fan, but the snark that would have been unloaded on Notre Dame would have been outstanding.
* #2 Iowa 38, #16 Cal 12 (1959 Rose Bowl)
Close game Twitter is fun; blowout Twitter is also a lot of fun. And Iowa's blowout win over Cal in the Rose Bowl that year would have been a blast to talk about. Iowa ran the ball up, down, and all around Cal in that game, setting Rose Bowl records for most team rushing yards (429), most individual rushing yards (194 from "Bullet" Bob Jeter), and longest individual run (an 81-yard touchdown run by Jeter). This game also provided a little Weird Football: Iowa attempted three two-point conversions -- and failed at all three. Weird Football is always fun to talk about.
* Iowa 12, Iowa State 10 (1977)
AKA, the infamous "Beat Iowa" jerseys. This game was the resumption of the Iowa-Iowa State series that had been dormant for 43 years and that fact alone probably would have made it a memorable Twitter experience, with 40+ years of built-up trash talk between Iowa and Iowa State fans getting unloaded. It was also the debut of the original Cy-Hawk Trophy, which would have been roasted on Twitter. (But probably not quite as much as the aborted second Cy-Hawk Trophy was, may its Precious Moments ass rest in the fiery pits of Hell for all eternity.) And then on top of all that you add Iowa State wearing custom jerseys that said "BEAT IOWA" across the top? In a game that they ended up losing?! We've torched Iowa State mercilessly for those jerseys in the decades since, but doing it live would have been a special joy. The trolling that would have ensued as a result of this game would have been amazing.
* Iowa 10, #7 Nebraska 7 (1981)
Clapping back on Nebraska fans is one of the true joys of Twitter and there would have been some epic clap backs after Iowa upset Nebraska in the season opener in 1981. This game was Iowa's first win over Nebraska since 1946 (caveat: they didn't play from 1947 to 1978). It was also a year after Nebraska pounded Iowa into dust in Lincoln, 57-0. Nebraska fans would have been pretty chesty entering this game, so watching Iowa punch them in the mouth and grind out a win would have been immensely satisfying. Also: this game was a showcase for Reggie Roby -- he averaged almost 56 yards a kick on five punts and boomed one for 62 yards -- and as we all know #PuntingIsWinning.
* #1 Iowa 12, #2 Michigan 10 (1985)
The hype would have been off the charts for this game, a #1 versus #2 clash, and it was a game that largely lived up to the hype: close, hard-hitting, and down-to-the-wire. This was also the game where Jim Harbaugh complained that Iowa fans were too loud and where Bo Schembechler covered the pink locker room walls with butcher paper, so mocking them for that would have been a fantastic bonus on top of the great game (and huge win). This game also would have turned Rob Houghtlin into a cult hero and many a meme would have been born from the celebrating Iowa fans after this game.
* Iowa 29, Ohio State 27 (1987)
Iowa wins over Ohio State are rare enough that they're always worth celebrating deliriously, but the ending is what puts this game over the top. Iowa beats Ohio State 29-27 on a 28-yard Chuck Hartlieb-to-Marv Cook touchdown pass with six seconds left on 4th and 23? I mean, plays like that are what Football Twitter is made for. The reactions to that would have been incredible.
* #24 Iowa 31, Purdue 28 (2002)
The entire 2002 season would have been a blast on Twitter (uh, minus the Iowa State game and the Orange Bowl after the opening kickoff), but I think this game would have been the best of the lot. There were four lead changes, with the final one coming with 1:12 to go in the game. But more than just being an exciting, back-and-forth game, this one is memorable because of how the teams scored, particularly Iowa. Iowa blocked a field goal and ran it back for a touchdown with 90 seconds to go in the first half -- then they blocked a punt and ran it back for a touchdown just two minutes into the second half. So in the span of less than five minutes of game time (probably about 20-25 minutes of real time), Iowa scored touchdowns not once, but twice on blocked kicks. Then there was Dallas Clark's 95-yard touchdown scamper down the sideline and, of course, the game-winning touchdown pass from Banks-to-Clark on fourth down with just over a minute to go. And even after all that Iowa fans still had to bite their nails until Adolphus Shelton made the biggest play of his Iowa career and sealed the win with an interception. This game was absolutely berserk and I wouldn't trade my memories of watching it in Kinnick Stadium for anything -- but it definitely would have been a blast on Twitter, too. Have you watched the highlights lately? You should watch the highlights.
* #6 Iowa 45, Minnesota 21 (2002)
OK, there's one other game from 2002 that deserves mention here and it's the regular season finale against Minnesota. The game itself would have been fine and Iowa Twitter would have been fun as Iowa finished off an 8-0 conference season to win their first Big Ten title in 12 years and we all dreamed of the Rose Bowl that we imagined was coming next. But it's what happened after the game that elevated this game to an unforgettable spectacle. I'm speaking, of course, about the goalposts. The goalposts that Iowa fans tore down and paraded around the Metrodome to commemorate their win. I have never seen anything like this at a football game before or since and we will probably never see its like again. This is already an all-time Iowa football moment (or maybe just an all-time Iowa fan moment), and it certainly would have been an all-time Iowa Twitter moment.
* #25 Iowa 6, Penn State #4 (2004)
Weird Football is one of the best parts of College Football Twitter and where Iowa is concerned, it's hard to find a better example of Weird Football than the glory that is 6 to 4, the weirdest win of the Kirk Ferentz era at Iowa. The offensive ineptitude, the parade of turnovers, the defensive stoutness, and, of course, the Fuck You Safety... this game had a lot to offer from a Twitter perspective. And then it would have gotten us right in the feels after the game, too, with Kirk and Brian sobbing in memory of Kirk's father, who had passed away earlier that week.
* #11 Iowa 30, #12 LSU 25 (2005 Capital One Bowl)
I had the 2004 Iowa-Wisconsin game here at first because, like I said, Blowout Twitter can be a blast and Iowa hammering a good Wisconsin team to clinch a (shared) Big Ten title would have been a great time on the ol' Twitter machine. But then I remembered the Capital One Bowl and kicked myself for ever forgetting The Catch, even for a moment. As Pat said a few weeks ago, it was an incredible and memorable game that took Iowa fans on a madcap roller coaster of emotions before the ending... and, then, of course, that ending. Iowa Twitter would have gotten whiplash from freaking out about the clock running down before the final play to exploding with joy after Holloway hauled in Tate's pass and crossed the goal line, but it would have been so worth it. (There would have been so many hastily deleted Tweets bitching about timeouts and clock management, too.)
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.
And, of course, H/T to Spencer Hall for the original post, which you should go read if you haven't yet.