While the season hasn't been a complete trash panda, it's becoming more difficult for me to look at the remainder of the schedule with much optimism. Of the remaining five games, we'll probably be favored in only one, Nebraska, slight dogs against the Nerds, while being touchdown-plus undies against Michigan, Wisconsin and tomorrow's game against Iowa.
That makes it close to a 50-50 proposition as to whether we'll get bowl eligible. I've always sort of considered that the baseline for an acceptable season. Yeah, I know we should aspire to more blah, blah, blah and I do, which is why I'm glad we canned Claeys and hired Fleck. But, man, those 15 extra practices you get for becoming bowl eligible are important as hell, especially at this point in the program with a new coaching staff and so much youth.
But aside from bowl eligibility, I want to win tomorrow because I want a damned trophy in the case. That we won nine games last year and sit sans any hardware is a testament to how little meaning those wins had to the long-term success of the program. There's a special pride you get from visiting the State Fair and seeing Floyd and the Jug and the Axe (and maybe the Chair soon, but eff the Bell always and forever).
Even if the rest of the season goes full tire fire and we lose out, I want to win tomorrow because it's Floyd and he deserves to come home. Floyd has always been my favorite of the rivalry trophies. The notion that a bronze pig could be so endearing to me is remarkable. He's a perfect representation of the agricultural traditions of both Iowa and Minnesota with a back story second only to that of the Jug. Bringing him back and making him the centerpiece of the new facilities at their opening would be like injecting pure ecstasy directly into my aorta.
I want to win tomorrow for the people in southern Minnesota for whom Iowa is our biggest rival. Growing up in the Cities, 15 miles from the Wisconsin border, they were my natural nemesis. But I've heard enough from the farming family that sits behind us at the stadium and others that the hatred for Iowa is pure and true in the state's southern reaches. I want you to be able to proudly sport your Gopher gear at work on Monday while crowing at your despondent Hawkeye co-workers.
And I want to win because it's Iowa and I hate them. True, it's not the visceral hate I have toward Wisconsin and their fans, who I excise from my life without hesitation; but it's still hate. I hate that they stole our goalposts, that they beat us 55-0, that they went to the Rose Bowl two years ago. There's a lot of hate flavors to choose from, but my hate for Iowa is salty. They have the same structural disadvantages we have, but have enjoyed more success. That's due to a number of factors, which appear to have now been corrected. We're getting back to a level playing field after several decades, and it's time to exact some revenge.
I want to win tomorrow. Beat Iowa. Bring Floyd home.