10. The Aristocrats. While most college football teams these days are finding ways to include black in their uniform color scheme, Northwestern is exclusively devoted to their purpleness. Where commoners see purple as merely a mix of blue with red, Northwestern sees subliminal power. Someone is thinking up there in Evanston, because human color psychology defines purple as associated with nobility and, naturally, football dominance. Meanwhile, the unimaginative Iowa uniform color scheme relies heavily on the color black, which just like the notion of a Ricky Stanzi pass efficiency rating, is technically an oxymoron. Black is the very absence of all color, and thus associated with obscurity and imminent death---come to think of it, much like the Hawkeyes. Expect Northwestern's imperial majesty to reduce the Hawkeyes to BCS nonexistence on Saturday.
9. Myocardial Infarction. Smoking, a high fat diet, and a lack of exercise have nothing on the Iowa Hawkeyes. Kirk Ferentz's squad is one more nail-biter away from being classified by the American Heart Association as a serious heart risk. Since Ricky Stanzi was tabbed Iowa's starting quarterback early in the 2008 season the Hawkeyes have had a fondness for taut, stress inducing games that go down to the wire. Of Iowa's last 21 games, 10 have been won or lost by five or fewer points. Up to now the Cardiac Hawks have found ways to survive these scares, but expect this to be the outcome this Saturday.
8. Sweet Escape. Yes, Northwestern has a bad reputation. To paraphrase Woody Hayes after beating the Wildcats in his first year as head coach: "Who let these stiffs into the conference?" Okay, they've loosened up since then...kind of. Northwestern still hasn't beaten Ohio State but once in the past 38 years, and still owns the most losses in NCAA Division I history, but recently against everyone else they are a football version of the Shawshank Redemption. Northwestern busted through a hole in the wall some 15 years ago against the Hawkeyes and since sports a winning 7-5 record, winning the last two played at Kinnick no less. Expect the Wildcats to reunite with victory in a small
Mexican coastal Eastern Iowa town on Saturday.
7. Hosty With The Mosty. Opponents that have visited Kinnick this year are finding Ricky Stanzi to be a most generous host. His passes are his football crudités, politely gobbled up by his appreciative guests. In three of five home games Stanzi has served up a Pick Six and most recently was intercepted five times. Ironically it was against the team that came the closest of all (UNI) to beating the Hawkeyes at home, that Stanzi did not throw an interception. Stanzi is averaging a shade under two interceptions per home game thus far and has done his level best to sabotage every game he's played at Kinnick. Expect this to be the week that Stanzi gets over the hump, and serves up the game on a doily-lined platter to Northwestern.
6. Green Acres. Iowa's walk-on safety from Bettendorf is hurt and that means Kafka or whomever they throw under center will be farming the middle of the field on Saturday. With all due respect to Iowa's back-up safeties, the Hawkeyes will profoundly miss its savvy centerfielder, Brett Greenwood. You'll know Iowa is in really deep doo doo if you see Jack Swanson, aka TV Dinner, running around like a chicken with vegetables baked in a flaky piecrust.
5. Do More With Less. Ryan Seacrest, Fall Out Boy, and Matthew McConaughey could only dream of squeezing more success out of less talent than do the Northwestern Wildcats. Northwestern does not even attempt to recruit actual athletes because their admissions standards are just so darn high. Well, there's that and real men wouldn't be caught dead in purple. As a result, the Wildcats find themselves competing not with Stanford, Cal, or even Michigan for prized recruits, but with Rice, Duke, Vanderbilt and the Ivy's for that handful of players who can walk and do advanced trigonometry at the same time. Despite being at an athletic disadvantage, look for Northwestern to outwit the Hawkeyes this Saturday.
4. Gerald Fits Pat. Northwestern's coach is young, enthusiastic and passionate. But not in a brash Lane Kiffin sort of way, but rather in a Richard Simmons, circa 1983, sort of way. The irreproachably pure Pat Fitzgerald with his high energy and "you can do it!" approach is perfect for a school whose football program prior to his arrival as a linebacker in the mid-1990s was melded to the couch shoving boxes of Twinkies down its throat. Fitzgerald has the football program as fit and healthy as ever, so expect Wildcats to have Iowa sweatin to the oldies this Saturday.
3. Wildcat Nation. Does any team have a more fervent or ferocious following than the Northwestern Wildcats? Expect Wildcat Nation to descend upon Iowa City with Oxfords shined, Navy Blazers pressed, and Blackberry's fully charged ready to turn Kinnick into Ryan Field South on Saturday. When they all break into song with their "Go U Northwestern" and chant, "Spread far the fame or our fair name, Go! Northwestern win that game." You know you're status is...done.
2. Kafka-esque. Has any college football team, indeed any football season, been more resembling of a Franz Kafka story than the one the Hawks are experiencing right now? In fact, the similarities are eerie. In Kafka's The Castle, for example, the main character (whose name is simply K...hello! K?!?!) diligently works to gain respect and recognition of the veiled establishment known as "The Castle" (read BCS Championship). The Castle's officials (as in the poll voters) govern the village where K wants to work as a head coach, er, land surveyor. Villagers (that tacky mainstream media) hold the officials and the castle in the highest esteem, explaining away their questionable actions, in some cases to comical extremes. As with any Kafka story, the villagers do not seem to have any clue what these officials actually do or why they do it. In the end, the villagers merely defend their actions. Hmmm....look for the real K to have a similar fate to that which Kafka intended the fictional K to experience: be given permission to live and work but with no valid claim to the community. This Saturday will merely be more justification for the officials' claims of Iowa's illegitimacy.
1. Norm Parker. Need I say more?