Holbrook: Heartbreaker or blowout — what’s the better loss?

Iowa State then-freshman Georges Niang attempts to block Ohio State’s Aaron Craft’s game-winning shot on March 24, 2013, in the third round of the NCAA tournament at the University of Dayton Arena. Craft’s basket gave the Buckeyes the lead with .5 seconds left in the 78-75 win.

Trevor Holbrook

Two weeks off a heartbreaking loss in the Cy-Hawk game, Iowa State fans experienced another frustrating loss on the road at Baylor.

With the sting of the loss remaining fresh for Cyclone fans, Iowans rejoiced when they flipped the channel to ESPN to watch the Nebraska and Ohio State game unfold.

The Buckeyes made Nebraska look like a junior varsity high school team en route to a 48-7 beatdown. During the blowout, Ohio State completely shut down the Nebraska offense — specifically the passing game. Husker quarterback Adrian Martinez contributed 47 passing yards and three interceptions with a completion percentage of 47 percent (8-of-17).

Even outside of the middle-of-the-pack teams like the Nebraskas and Iowa States of the world, the top teams experience these two types of losses too.

College football fans are all too familiar with Alabama-Clemson title games. Last season, the Crimson Tide was dominated by Clemson and quarterback Trevor Lawrence in a 44-16 loss. In 2016, coach Nick Saban and Alabama lost 35-31 against Clemson.

So regardless of if it’s the championship, a conference game or an out-of-conference rivalry game, what’s the easiest type loss to deal with between the two extremes?

I initially leaned toward a blowout loss. While you miss out on the gut punch near the end of the game, you still have to sit through three hours or so of your team being overmatched. And while Nebraska fans likely didn’t have too much optimism entering the Ohio State game, blowout losses can also make you feel foolish for being confident in your team just for it to get dismantled.

In the age of social media, it also becomes a toxic environment as fans of a rival team poke fun (or take a harsher approach) at your team and its fans. Aside from opposing fans, you also have to sift through the posts and tweets from fellow irrational fans, typing absurd hot takes and suggesting bunches of people get benched or fired.

While all this adds up to a terrible experience and makes you wonder why you follow them, I think a heartbreaking loss edges out a blowout (kind of like the opponent to your team).

I think blowouts are painful in the short term, but heartbreakers stick with you forever. The 42-3 blowout in the Cy-Hawk game during Matt Campbell’s first season riled up fans on both sides, but the lopsided game rarely gets talked about anymore.

Meanwhile, a heartbreaker like Oklahoma State experienced against Iowa State in 2011 still gets talked about in Ames, and Cowboy fans still are reminded whenever the two teams meet up.

A heartbreaker also stirs up a flurry of “What ifs?” even years after the game. What if the Aaron Craft charge went the other way? What if there was replay in college football on Seneca Wallace’s run against Florida State? What if the penalty flag was never picked up against Kansas State?

Those examples are years old, but they still come up in local bars and at tailgates around central Iowa.

I think the longevity of the heartbreakers pushes it ahead of blowouts. In conclusion, losing sucks, and I hope the heartbreakers are few and far between regardless of who you root for (unless it’s Nebraska).