[Yes, he posted this on Monday, but we're bumping it now. So it goes.--OPS]
10. Lost. Watching the Hawkeyes play is like surviving a plane crash. Sure, once the game is over you're happy to be alive, but then you gather yourself, take stock and wonder if you haven't just been dealt a fate worse than death. This Hawkeye season has outstripped any script J. J. Abrams could concoct. For the next episode expect everyone on the island to be obliterated by a heavy-set carnivore from the weasel family.
9. Mad Men. Anyone who's ever been to Madison knows exactly why Wisconsin is a fixture in Playboy's annual Top Party Schools edition. It usually looks something like this: portly youth of dairy farmers roaming State Street sucking down Leinenkugels and masticating moldy cheddar cheese cubes from a day old happy hour crudités platter. But hey, as every Wisconsinite knows, mixing beer and cheese almost always ends with a coed naked in your dorm room...although this is usually followed by a coed naked in your bathroom sheepishly informing you that you're now out of toilet paper. This Saturday expect Madison to party like its 1999...and 2000, and 2001, and 2006, and 2007.
8. Pick 6. The Stanzi Lottery has been so incredibly successful it is now held every Saturday. Expect some lucky Badger DB to hit the jackpot this weekend. The Badgers have been coached up to check their tickets closely because much like the Iowa lottery, there are always multiple winners.
7. Homey Don't Play That. Camp Randall stadium is named after former Governor Alexander Randall, who besides being a former Postmaster General was evidently a House of Pain fan. Wisconsin has developed a formidable home field advantage via a smorgasbord of unusual and unsafe chants and cheers. Most notable among them is the "Jump Around" in which 80,321 people jump up and down in unison between the third and fourth quarter to the hip-hop tune of the same name in an effort to alarm the opponent, and to test the structural soundness of the oldest stadium in the Big Ten. As the stadium rocks hazardously up and down the visiting team often freezes in terror and then begins feverishly planning an exit strategy. It's Homecoming Weekend, so expect the Badger fans to be in total harebrained mode as Wisconsin stamps Iowa "return to sender."
6. Bret Bielema. Bret Bielema. It is well known that Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema is a former Hawkeye, and he has the body branding to prove it. While some in the local media worry that Bielema may not be truly loyal, and toss out as evidence that his teams often appear to mimic Iowa's football blueprint. Bielema counters that he's authentic and original. As he often repeats, his teams come to play, give 110 percent all the time, and play the full 60 minutes; win or lose they leave it all on the field. His guys have a motor that just won't quit, and his team is always better than their record indicates. At the end of the day, Wisconsin wins because they just want it more. As Bielema inventively and often states, "There's no ‘I' in team." Yep, Bret Bielema is his own man.
5. A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Anyone who thinks they have this Iowa team figured out is living a lie. One minute they are dominating their opponent to the point of suffocation, they next they're a sieve of futility. Which team will show up in Madison is anyone's guess. I'm guessing the team that thinks ineptitude is its secret weapon.
4. Back Pain. Wisconsin is a Big Ten running back factory that has churned out the likes of Alan Ameche, Michael Bennett, Anthony Davis, Terrell Fletcher, P. J. Hill and Ron Dayne, to name but a few. Ameche and Dayne both won the Heisman and Dayne still holds the NCAA career rushing record. Ameche was called "The Horse" because he was so big in his day he required custom shoulder pads. Years later Dayne would be called "The Great Dayne" because he looked like, well, this. It was clearly Dayne who established the current body prototype for Badger running backs. Their latest version is John Clay who is yet another full-figured runner, and once he reaches top speed can resemble a Mongolian Wild Ass. Michigan's Brandon Minor who just shredded the Hawkeye run defense is a Mule Deer by comparison, so expect Iowa to be Clay's personal woody vegetation this Saturday.
3. Rush to Judgment. All those warm and fuzzies everyone was feeling about Iowa's running game took a Brandon Graham-sized hit against Michigan. Everyone in Hawkeye nation was giggling like a schoolgirl at a Sadie Hawkins dance thinking they'd fortuitously stumbled upon the best one-two running back punch in the conference. Well that whole notion took a right cross to the jaw on Saturday, and it looks as if the Hawkeye running game has a glass chin. This of course means the whole shebang is now officially on Stanzi. Hawkeye fans may want to invest heavily in Chanel No. 5 and Russell Stovers because Wisky will be sending Iowa's passing game perfumed love letters and store bought chocolates all week.
2. Kicking and Screaming. 14th out of 120. That is Iowa's national rank in kickoff return yardage defense. This ranking means one of two things: Either 106 teams do not bother to cover kicks...at all, or this is the most deceptive statistic ever calculated. So unreliable is Iowa's kickoff coverage, that just before each kick Iowa fans hold their breath, wave rabbit's feet and repeat nervously, "step on a crack, break your mothers back." Unless and until Tyler Sash can be cloned 11 times, expect on every Iowa kickoff for Ferentz to eschew his usual gum chewing and settle his nerves by chain smoking.
1. Ricky Stanzi. Need I say more?