September 22, 2021

Football is back

The greatest sport in the world is back.

I love most sports. I get into Cincinnati Reds baseball in the summer. The NBA is something I have always followed, too.

But when it comes to team sports, nothing will ever top football for me.

My wife joked with our daughter on Saturday a few hours before the Hawkeyes kicked off. She asked her how many times Dad would scream during the game. I’m sure it was more than what she predicted.

As I get older, I have learned to try to not live and react to every play. But it was the first game of the season after the weird COVID-19 no fans season. And there was a lot to cheer about.

The No. 18 Hawkeyes dismantled the No. 17 Indiana Hoosiers behind a stout defense and one big run by Tyler Goodson.

Most Iowa games are nerve-racking right down to the final seconds. Saturday’s opener was the most relaxed I have felt after halftime in a while.

I’m sure Iowa State fans were not saying the same thing Saturday afternoon. Northern Iowa continues to be a thorn in the side of both state of Iowa power 5 schools.

The Cyclones won the game. That’s all that matters.

As I type this on Sunday, the new rankings are now out yet. Notre Dame, which was preseason ranked ninth, won in overtime a few minutes ago. Several other top 25 teams lost or had close wins this weekend, too.

I firmly believe rankings shouldn’t come out until a few games are played. Iowa State didn’t impress anyone on Saturday, but I feel like the Cyclones will still be ranked in the top 10. Too many other teams around them lost.

If I had to predict, I think Iowa State will drop to ninth and Iowa will move all the way up to around 12th or 13th for the Cy-Hawk showdown this week.

It will be the most anticipated edition of the rivalry of my lifetime. That spans 40 years. I can’t recall a Cy-Hawk game when both teams were ranked in the top 15.

It was going to get a lot of hype from the local media anyway. But now that ESPN’s College Gameday is coming back to Ames for the game, it just got even more attention.

You won’t get any predictions from me. I will watch the game from the comfort of my man cave and hope my Hawkeyes can win a sixth straight in the series and move into the top 10 the following week.

But I understand Iowa State is primed to end the streak and very well could in front of its home fans.

The day after we get the Cy-Hawk special, the NFL kicks off its season. I know there’s a game on Thursday, but the rest of the league plays on Sunday or Monday next week.

As I have stated in this column before, I am a long-time San Francisco 49ers fan. My man cave is mostly Hawkeye-related items but if you see something else, it’s likely 49ers based.

As a child, I can remember being a 49ers fan before I was a Hawkeye fan. I started following the team when Joe Montana was throwing passes to Jerry Rice, the greatest football player of all-time.

The 49ers had a dynasty back then. I think Kyle Shanahan and now-Hall of Famer John Lynch have built something similar in the Bay. And if they can stay healthy this season, I think they can be as good as the 2019 team which played in the Super Bowl. They were not healthy last year at all. In fact, they had more than 20 players on the IR throughout the 2020 season.

This year will be even more interesting for me as the franchise prepares to play two quarterbacks before third overall pick Trey Lance takes over for good.

I have tickets purchased for when the 49ers visit the Chicago Bears at the end of October. I will be going with a coach in the district whose a Bears fan. Neither of us have been to a game at Soldier Field. We are both hoping Lance and fellow rookie Justin Fields will be the quarterbacks of our teams that day.

Here’s to another football season. I’m sure I am not the only one who is happy to have it back.

Contact Troy Hyde at thyde@shawmedia.com