COLUMN: CMU beats Iowa – what does it mean?
IOWA CITY — When David Harman’s floating, line drive, 47-yard, career-long, game-winning field goal snuck above the crossbar Saturday afternoon in Kinnick Stadium, the Iowa upset was complete for the Central Michigan football team.
CMU was a 14-point underdog from a “lesser” conference, playing on the road for the first time this year against a team it had never beat.
The Chippewas needed an onside kick, two consecutive last-minute drives, a turnover free game, a crucial late 15-yard penalty and long kick with the wind at their backs to pull it off… so what does it mean?
Are the Chippewas back? Will this propel them to a Mid-American Conference title run? Does this game give Ryan Radcliff the confidence he needs to consistently play at an elite level? Is Dan Enos’ seat cooling down?
We don’t know those answers yet – but we do know CMU played and coached a hell of a game and outplayed the Hawkeyes.
Radcliff was putting the ball on the money and making great decisions on when to go deep and when to dump it down. Enos was pressing the right buttons all afternoon — including using wide receiver Cody Wilson in the wildcat formation. The defense made enough plays to win, and special teams delivered in the biggest way.
It means the fans, students and alumni should be re-energized. After an underwhelming win against Southeast Missouri State and 41-7 blanking by Michigan State, I thought this team had not changed from the previous two seasons.
It means I was dead wrong. My prediction of a 30-20 Iowa victory due to two Radcliff interceptions was thrown back in my face. And the 32-31 CMU win could have been by an even larger margin. The Chippewas settled for field goals twice after they had put themselves in first-and-goal situations.
It means after two 3-9 seasons, frankly, more than three wins should be expected. It means CMU is four wins away from bowl eligibility with nine regular-season games remaining.
It means CMU is 2-1. When MAC play kicks off Saturday at Northern Illinois – who knocked off Kansas Saturday, 30-23 – CMU will be 0-0 in the conference.
It means Radcliff put together four great quarters. It means the offensive skill players - Titus Davis, Zurlon Tipton, Wilson - played up to their expectations. It also showed weaknesses that need to be addressed on the defensive front, allowing 430 total yards to the Hawkeyes.
This victory does not mean CMU gets to start with a touchdown advantage against NIU next week.
But, for now, it means Radcliff and Enos both earned their first signature win for CMU.