Ranking Iowa Hawkeyes’ kickoff times at Kinnick Stadium from worst to best

·5 min read

The Iowa Hawkeyes used to be the nation’s standard 11 a.m. CST kickoff as a Big Ten game to get the day underway. As things have changed, Iowa has produced a quality string of seasons and their games gain more traction. Thus, their kickoffs have drifted away from the early slot.

Personally, THANK GOODNESS, for that. Kicking off less and less games at 11 a.m. CST is one of the best things the Hawkeyes have had happen to them in recent memory. That time is just no good for a football game. That time slot needs to be strictly reserved for Northwestern hosting Rutgers in a game that is 38 degrees, misting, and sees more punts than first downs in the first half. True Big Ten fans, myself included, will subject themselves to that cruel and unusual torture, but no fan wants that time slot for their own team.

That said, there is a flurry of times we see Iowa kickoff at. They have their out of conference schedule, standard Big Ten games, an occasional Friday game, and one or two night kickoffs each season.

With it narrowed down to five different kickoffs, it is only right we rank the Hawkeyes’ best kickoff times from worst to best for fans. The rankings are based on a combination of time, fan activities, the atmosphere that time can produce, and even a little bit of tradition tossed in.

All of these times will be on the upcoming 2022 schedule so whether this ranking hits home or ruffles some feathers, everyone will have their chance to watch the Hawkeyes in their own personal prime time.

Any 11 a.m. kickoff regardless of opponent

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Nope. Absolutely not. Do not schedule any more of these 11 a.m. kickoffs.

While typically reserved for early season out-of-conference opponents like we will see with South Dakota State this fall, the Hawkeyes will occasionally catch a Big Ten matchup at 11 a.m. and that is just wrong. Iowa is too good of a program and draw to be in this slot.

Plus, as a fan, it is just way too early to get up, get a good tailgate in, maybe have a beer or two, and get into Kinnick all by kickoff. Sure, you may get time after the game, but when the focal point of the day is the Hawkeyes’ game, these early kickoffs should receive a permanent farewell.

Friday kickoffs, with an exception

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

This was going to be No. 5, but as I mentioned, some tradition plays into this. If it was just a casual Friday like we saw last year when Iowa had to travel to Maryland in early October, it is by far the worst time to play a game. College football is meant for Saturdays and should stay as such. I get it, though. Schools like Maryland don’t get national attention like Iowa and Iowa has to go play them at unfavorable times to allow them TV time.

The only saving grace keeping this time slot from the cellar is the traditional Iowa-Nebraska game every Friday after Thanksgiving. You spend Thursday with the family, already have leftovers for the tailgate food, it’s pretty much a Saturday anyways and we get to watch Iowa continue to play their part in pouring gas on Scott Frost’s fire.

Out-of-conference night games

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

So, I mean it’s still a night game in Kinnick Stadium. You would be hard-pressed to find a better environment than that. It is one of the top atmospheres in the nation.

That atmosphere should be saved for Big Ten heavyweight matchups. This fall Nevada comes to Kinnick for a 6:30 p.m. CST kickoff. What are we doing here? Come on. Stick this game at 2:30 p.m. CST on the Big Ten Network. Don’t overthink it.

Saturday 2:30 p.m. kickoffs

Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen

This is a sweet spot. Like the pot of honey, not too hot, not too cold. This one isn’t too early and isn’t too late. Great kickoff time. This lets fans set up outside Kinnick in the morning and get the grills fired up. Plenty of time to get the energy going and bring it into Kinnick.

This is the Hawkeyes’ standard kickoff time for most Big Ten games. It can occasionally get a primetime slot and be rocking as we saw with Penn State last year. The second half gets a sunset, it gets dark, the fans get louder. No complaints with a 2:30 p.m. kickoff. This is a great slot for the ABC mid-afternoon game with national coverage.

Night game kickoffs at Kinnick

Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s over. No debate. Call it. There’s no contest in what the best kickoff time at Kinnick Stadium is. It’s the nighttime kickoff. It is mayhem inside Kinnick. Fans have had all day to get rowdy. The energy is at peak level. It is truly walking into a lion’s den.

They say patience is a virtue and that applies here. The wait all day might be long, but that is just more time to tailgate, soak up the atmosphere, and when you walk into that stadium for a night time kickoff, the wait is more than worth it.

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