Saturday’s visit to Penn State started a lot better than it finished for the Iowa Hawkeyes. It ended with a 30-24 defeat and a stumble back into the pack in the Big Ten West standings, but it started with a first quarter that featured a blocked punt that became a safety, a fantastic touchdown pass to D-line beefboy Sam Brincks on a fake field goal, and one extremely well-realized moment of mascot crotch trauma. You’ve already seen the bean-shot above, but before we watch it a few more times here’s the trick play, which is indeed badass.
That was about as good as it got for the Hawkeyes, who were outplayed and outscored 30-12 thereafter. But while it’s tempting to point to the moment that Brincks hauled in that beautiful reception for the game’s first touchdown as Iowa’s highlight for the day, it’s more correct to say that the team’s effort for the day peaked just a few plays earlier.
That was when, on first-and-goal, Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley threw the ball away down the right sideline and, after one long hot skip off the Nittany Stadium turf, directly into the greater dick-and-balls region of an unsuspecting Herky The Hawk.
There is something about oversized mascot heads that makes these moments pop even more powerfully than they otherwise might. Maybe it’s the uncanniness of it, the flash in which the viewer must confront the possibility that this tall, scowling, bipedal bird is as vulnerable as any puny human, and in the same ways. Maybe it’s the way the giant bird head flops around in the crucial moment, helping to sell the action in a way that would make even George C. Scott proud. It might just be that I’m an idiot and am laughing at stuff like this well into the part of my adulthood when I should have moved on to other things. It’s probably some combination of the three. If this is as good as it gets for Iowa this year, though, they’ll have at least crafted a moment—two, I guess, if you count the Brincks touchdown—they can treasure for years to come.