Here is something that’s not usually said about Iowa State-Iowa football games, but that I feel really should be said today: That game was awesome.
We’ve billed the teams’ annual clash as ¡El Assico! It’s a fun, silly thing. Part of why it’s fun is that college football is sometimes a sloppy mess, and few games exemplify that more than ¡El Assico! often does. The teams are in the middle of a light recruiting region, which means their best paths to success are through styles of football that are not aesthetically pleasing: plodding running games, conservative play-calling, and occasionally dazzling punts. You don’t watch ¡El Assico! to see offense.
But their 2017 meeting was good, genuine fun, featuring lots of points and a dramatic finish: 44-41, Iowa, in overtime.
The brief recap from Iowa blog Black Heart Gold Pants:
I need to take a walk with a stiff drink.
Nine things that were cool about this game:
1. There were real, live points put onto the scoreboard.
In total, there were 85. The last time there were that many in an ¡El Assico! was 2011, when Iowa State won in triple overtime by the same exact score. The two games are now tied for the highest-scoring UI-ISU football games ever played.
2. It featured this Iowa catch-and-run TD by Akrum Wadley.
It won’t show up on tackling fundamental videos, but that’s an amazing effort. Wadley embarrassed the hell out of a bunch of special teamers on his in-state rival, and it looks like a video-game play. It was also pivotal for Iowa, which was out of timeouts and needed a touchdown to tie the game. That’s a simple way to get one.
3. It had this lovely TD catch by Iowa’s Ihmir Smith-Marsette.
Go get that ball, Ihmir Smith-Marsette!!!! pic.twitter.com/qK3xTVreze— Jack McGuire (@JackMacCFB) September 9, 2017
That was in the running for catch of the week until late on Saturday. The extension of Smith-Marsette’s body as he hauls the ball in is really something:
4. Even Iowa State had a long touchdown.
I didn’t know the Cyclones were allowed to complete passes of more than 14 yards. But they got this 74-yarder to Hakeem Butler in the fourth, and the play’s kind of funny to look at because, wow, do you see how far behind Butler the next Iowa DB is when he catches the ball?
That would’ve won the game if not for Wadley’s heroics. And I’m sort of being unfair. ISU’s Quenton Bundrage had a 97-yard catch against Texas in 2013, and the Cyclones hit a few relative biggies last year, too. It just feels weird to see Iowa State make such an exciting play on live television.
5. The game ended on a touchdown.
None of that field goal business. Nate Stanley’s throw to Smith-Marsette did the deed right there, as ISU had only put up three on the first series of the overtime.
6. Iowa State’s quarterback has the best QB hair in the land.
A large part of America met Jacob Park on Saturday:
Starting for Iowa State at quarterback: Nic Cage in Con Air. pic.twitter.com/Qsi3AG7o2X— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) September 9, 2017
In addition to looking like the protagonist in Nicolas Cage’s eighth-best movie, Park had a wondrous game. He had 347 passing yards and four touchdowns. Those are not “Iowa State QB” numbers, but Park lit the Hawkeyes up for most of the afternoon.
7. The atmosphere seemed incredible.
Ames knows how to throw a party. This one included a sellout crowd of 61,500 at Jack Trice Stadium:
8. It didn’t take much time, relatively.
In an era of four-hour regulation games, this game finished in a tidy 3 hours, 54 minutes, despite needing OT. Brevity is the soul of a good sporting event, and this game had it in addition to everything else.
9. We got to scream “EL ASSICO” for a bit, and that was a blast.
For about an hour, college football Twitter fully embraced this game and this game’s internet nickname.
AKRUM WADLEY— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) September 9, 2017
EL ASSICO IS THE BEST
¡VIVA EL ASSÍCO!— EzekielElliotStabler (@chaz_chillinger) September 9, 2017
El Assico? More like El Classico.— i hate hurricanes (@ExternalTangent) September 9, 2017
...is that taken already?
AH HA HA FUCK YOU ISU! VIVA EL ASSICO VIVA!— Jay Hook (@JHookwastaken) September 9, 2017
Greatest El Assico ever?— Chris Stanley (@theTEXAStanley) September 9, 2017
EL ASSICO— Estevan (@estyvan) September 9, 2017
!El Assico! in perpetuity.— Mr. Bad Tweets (@MuletownSoul) September 9, 2017
And there was sooooooooooo much more where that came from.
The next Assico is Sept. 8, 2018, in Iowa City. My calendar’s marked.