Iowa’s Caitlin Clark autographs a shoe after her team’s NCAA women’s basketball tournament Elite Eight win over LSU Monday in Albany, N.Y. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)

CLEVELAND — This is scrambled eggs from the road, from someone who was happy to find a place to do laundry in Erie, Pa., Tuesday night.

Here’s what Iowa has to do to cut nets for the second time within a week: Beat LSU, Connecticut, and almost surely South Carolina in succession. Step 1 has been completed, defeating the 2023 champs.

Step 2 is against a program and coach, Geno Auriemma, who has won 11 national-titles and is at its 23rd Final Four. Auriemma is 70, and has all those championships. Why would he be hungry for another?

Here’s why: He he hasn’t won one since 2016, so he’s probably jonesing.

Step 3 for the Hawkeyes undoubtedly would be against the 2022 (and 2017) champs, South Carolina, which hasn’t lost to anyone since it fell to the Hawkeyes in last year’s national semifinals.

That sounds like a heavy lift, no? Also a fun one. Way more enjoyable, in fact, than doing laundry in Erie.

You probably heard the viewership for ESPN’s telecast of Monday’s Iowa-LSU game was 12.3 million, a women’s basketball record. The average viewership of the 2023 NBA finals was 11.6 million per game, with only the deciding fifth game topping 12.3 million.

Normally, I don’t get wrapped up in TV ratings. I mean, look at the lousy shows that get the most prime-time viewers. “The Bachelor” could fill millions of airsick bags. (Its recent Season 28 season-finale had 6.3 million viewers.) In sports, however, the ratings are mighty accurate barometers on what owns the zeitgeist of the moment.

Friday’s Iowa-UConn game figures to do a number similar and even larger than Monday’s LSU-Iowa clash. Ask yourself this: What in the state of Iowa’s history has ever brought it this kind of attention other than presidential caucuses?

More specifically, what in the state of Iowa’s history has ever brought this kind of positive attention?

The movie “Field of Dreams?” I think not. That was nominated for just three Academy Awards and won none. In other words, it struck out.

By the way, this year’s Super Bowl had a national television audience of 123.4 million. All but one of the 44 most-watched programs of 2023 were NFL games, and the one that wasn’t was the State of the Union address that was on every major network.

I got my first look at the exterior of Cleveland Browns Stadium Wednesday, and the seats go halfway up to heaven. People really go for that pro football stuff, I guess.

But if Iowa can stave off UConn and meet South Carolina Sunday afternoon on ABC, the Hawkeyes and Gamecocks may join the State of the Union as non-NFL outliers in the 50 most-watched shows of 2024.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade had an audience of 28.5 million last year, but that shouldn’t count because many viewers are dinner guests held hostage to the parade being shown on the hosts’ living room television.

The Caitlin Clark story — I almost made it to the end of this hodgepodge without mentioning her — continues to amaze in off-court ways.

I was browsing in a downtown Albany store called Mr. Good Vybz over the weekend and a young woman working there asked me asked where I was from. I told her, and she immediately blurted “Caitlin Clark! I want Iowa to win.”

“My name’s Caitlin,” she said. Or maybe it was Caitlyn. I didn’t ask.

“That should have been me. I had a basketball scholarship.”

A middle-aged man who worked in the dispensary, er, shop, said he had played basketball at Manhattan College, a Division I program. He looked like a former D-I player. He started explaining to me why Clark is so good.

In all my travels covering Iowa or Iowa State football or men’s basketball, few in Miami Beach or Memphis or Malibu expressed any passion about those teams after learning where I was from.

Naturally, I had an Uber driver in Albany who seemed pretty confident that Iowa is where potatoes are grown. I tried to correct him, but it didn’t take.

Anyway, it’s all Cleveland now. It’s Iowa and UConn Friday, the Game of the Year four nights after the previous Game of the Year. Will any of you be watching?

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