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Keeler: What is it with Iowa and the west?

[ 6 ] September 16, 2010 |

Iowa has two wins in Tucson since 1970 — and that accounts for a third of their victories west of Nebraska over the last 40 years.

Forget Tempe?

Heck, why stop there?

You might as well forget Los Angeles, Corvallis, Eugene, and Boulder, too.

Sad but true: Since 1970, Iowa is 6-19-1 in games played in the Mountain time zones and westward, including Hawaii. Over the last 20 seasons, that record is 1-7-1, with the lone Hawkeye win coming at El Paso, Texas — a victory over Washington in the 1995 Sun Bowl.

Yikes almighty.

“Certainly if you’re going to play late, and at night, that’s probably going to impact you more than going east, simply because your system starts to shut down,” explains Marty Martinez, a sports psychologist at Iowa State who’s worked with the U.S. Olympic team. “But I would say, if, all things being equal, you’d rather probably go east and have one more hour — you’re playing at 4 p.m. but really, your body’s at 3.”

The ninth-ranked Hawkeyes will kick off against No. 24 Arizona Saturday night in Tucson at 7:30 local time — but 9:30 Iowa time. The last time a Kirk Ferentz team played on the west coast, it was a visit to Arizona State in September 2004. Iowa wound up getting drubbed, 44-7.

After a while, you start to see a pattern emerging. Is there something about playing later that seems to get inside players’ heads? Or are we reaching here?

“Everybody’s different,” Martinez continued. “Some people are night people. Some people are morning people. And secondly, you have other people who differ on how they respond mentally to weather changes and time changes.”

He’ll be curious to see how Ferentz and the other coaches adjust the Hawkeyes’ routine while they’re in the desert. Most games played in Iowa City are either at 2:30 p.m. or 11 a.m., with the occasional 7 p.m. kickoff for marquee contests.

“On the one hand, (doing things later in the day) is probably going to make a small positive impact physically,” Martinez said. “The concern is, and why a lot of coachces won’t do that, is that the small physical benefit you get can be clearly outweighed by the mental (side). This is going to be clearly different, and then you’re mentally off (your usual routine). That’s why most coaches will just accept that and (say), ‘You know what to do, you know your body, you know you mind, you know what it takes in order to make your adjustments.’ “

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Sean Keeler: Sean Keeler has been a sports columnist at The Des Moines Register since 2002. Got a story tip, comment, complaint? E-mail him at skeeler@dmreg.com. You can follow him on twitter at twitter.com/seankeeler or on Facebook at facebook.com/smkeeler. View author profile.

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