[Bumped. There goes the season. :-( --OPS]
10. Highly Qualified. "We're certainly not the prettiest car on the lot, but that's OK," said Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz following Saturday's win at Wisconsin. Well, after Iowa's first half breakdown in Madison they easily fulfill the "Cash for Clunkers" program eligibility requirements. Ferentz may think his jalopy is OK but he'll think differently after going head-to-head with this Michigan State team, which the last three weeks has been pimped out to be a fuel-efficient sports car by comparison. Which reminds me...In any event, expect the Spartans to expose the Hawkeye's as the lemon on the Big Ten lot and send Iowa home on a flat bed after Saturday night's game.
9. Mt. Sparty. Thus far in the season Iowa has outscored their opponents by a paper-thin margin of 9 total first half points, 73-64. Game after game they find themselves looking at a deficit and having to climb their way out of bad starts. In three games the Hawkeyes have actually gone to the locker room behind and they have trailed at some point in every game but one. If Stanzi and Co. do not pick the proper path and get off to a better start they'll have finally met their Annapurna. If the Hawkeyes find themselves down yet again this Saturday night expect the Sherpas to abandon the climb and call-in the rescue chopper.
8. My Cousin Kirk. Among the Iowa fanbase it's well known that this Hawkeye defense has flustered, beat-up, and eventually forced a mid-game benching of three QBs thus far and they almost bagged a fourth last Saturday. Well now comes Kirk Cousins, the number one rated passer in the Big Ten. Cousins is a marksman with a rifle arm, and a variety of weapons. He has kept the local taxidermist very busy of late. You can bet Iowa's over-hyped pass defense will be just another deer in Cousin's crosshairs. I wonder which wall Shaun Prater will end up on?
7. Remember the Spartans. Now Iowans know what the Athenians felt like. MSU has dominated Iowa in East Lansing since 1995. Coach Mark Dantonio is looking like Michigan State's modern day Gylippus, the famous Spartan general who in the second Peloponnesian War against a seemingly superior Athenian force successfully led a Spartan resistance in defense of Sicily. Hmmm...Dantonio, Sicily ....you getting my drift here?
6. A Symbol of Strength. Oversized head, cartoonishly huge muscles, a massively chiseled jaw line, and that signature protruding chin. No, I'm not talking about this guy, I'm talking about this guy...the guy who is leading the Big Ten in tackles this year. Spartan middle linebacker Greg Jones is ranked second nationally in tackles and has a particular hard-on for big games. He is at his most dangerous when he blitzes, and he can come from anywhere. It was Iowa's preoccupation with Jones last year that allowed this. But this year Jones has vowed to do all his own dirty work this Saturday.
5. Things To Do In East Lansing When You're Dead. Sure, Iowa is 2-0 in night games this year. So you're thinking by now Iowa has mastered the late start? Of course, there are late starts and then there are late starts in East Lansing. We're talking about a city whose hottest attraction is a campus milk store and once you've ordered your double scoop of the Sesquicentennial Swirl your left to twiddle your thumbs for an entire afternoon (or you could break it up by paying a visit to The Bug House). Past visiting teams in town for a night game may not have died of boredom waiting for game time, but they certainly entered the stadium on collective life support. Don't be shocked to see the Swarm devolved to a Bataan Death March-like crawl into the stadium on Saturday.
4. We're MacScrewed. You may not know this, but it has always been assumed that Angus MacGyver went to Western Tech where he graduated in 1973 with a Bachelor's degree in physics and chemistry. Well, Western Tech was a clever alias for Michigan State University, used by the Phoenix Foundation in an effort to cover MacGyver's true history and ultimate identity. You can bet that the actual university that produced the greatest, most resourceful secret agent in television history will have more than a few tricks up their sleeve. Expect a whole lot of this from the Spartans on Saturday night.
3. Don't Believe the HypeI Bobby Petrino, Charlie Weis, and Kirk Ferentz. Three men who you might be surprised to learn have something in common...they're all overrated. How so? To start with, each is paid a king's ransom by his respective school, but for what? None have won or even sniffed a National Championship (while the rest of the Top Ten highest paid college coaches all have at least one national title to their name). Ferentz though might be the exceptionally hyped standout in this group. Besides being overpaid, he somehow perpetually finds himself on the shortlist of every open NFL job. How does a coach with a lifetime winning percentage of 59% find himself is in such rarified air? Well, a real coaches coach is about to give Ferentz a wake-up call.
2. Field of Bad Dreams. When asked about Iowa's unimposing record at Spartan Stadium, Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn told the Des Moines Register, "A field is a field to me." Ah, youth...too naïve to be scared. If only young Mr. Clayborn knew that in Iowa's four road trips to East Lansing in the past 14 seasons the results have been...every man's worst nightmare. Only "The Shoe" holds a longer history of Hawkeye flaccidity, with the Hawkeyes unable to get it up in five straight visits to Columbus since 1991.
1. Bryan Bulaga. Need I say more?