Iowa has one opponent between themselves and a 10-0 season... and that opponent is just Northwestern. Problems? No problems here, nosiree.
What Northwestern will need to win the game
To put it plainly, perfection. Regardless of whether he's on the Cats' injury list, Mike Kafka's hamstring cannot be 100%--not if it kept him out of the PSU game while Daniel Persa ineffectualled his way to a 21-point loss. It's not Persa's fault that the jNWU defense turned into the slighest webs of spider's silk and wishes, ready to be burst through by the weakest of Zugs; it is Persa's fault that the Wildcat offense was totally unable to recover when necessary.
But Kafka's back, his hamstring having healed enough to win Bitchpatrick's trust, and the 7-yard slant is back in play. For Iowa, that requires a schematically different approach, all as Norm Parker continues to recover from more diabetes- and infection-related foot problems. So it goes with all that; just ask Ron Santo.
The more involved the coaching staff is with the Iowa preparation this week, the more we'll probably see wacky plays like Brodercik Binns and/or Adrian Clayborn dropping into flat responsibility, even if it's just to get a mitt on the ball on a 2nd and 10 or so. Keep in mind that a defender can completely alter a game without registering tackles, sacks, forced fumbles and recoveries. The last three are fleeting glory stats, and the first is something that pales in comparison to receiving double-teams the whole game or otherwise forcing a quarterback out of his comfort zone.
jNWU is going to have to be on the high end (or higher) of their probablility scale to have a decent chance at winning this game;
What Iowa needs to do to win the game
Just don't fuck this up. Let Wegher get 20 carries, even if the first 16 carries resulted in 16 total yards; he'll just be overdue at that point. Northwestern does not have an admirable rush defense, but Iowa will struggle to rush for at least two of the game's four quarters; that's just how we do.
On defense, unless Arby Fields has the game of his life awaiting, Iowa is going to put forth one of their better defensive performances on the season. There's too much uncertainty in the jNWU backfield to expect more than 21 points; Iowa offense, then, this is your baseline. You dip below at your season's mortal peril.
But though jNWU's defense has its stout moments, it also has its epic parade of suck, and that has every chance of being on display Saturday afternoon.The depth chart is in tatters, Corey Wootton's at the same percentage of effectiveness as his knee (currently 80% or so), and if any of them tweak a ligament it's avalanche time.
Really, it's just that easy; #4 Iowa should beat a mediocre team by much more than the 17 points they're giving on Saturday. Every game's been close? But of course; you're just right where Iowa (and Vegas) wanted you.
34-10, Iowa. This is a secondary that a decent Ricky Stanzi tears to shreds--even with a hobbled Trey Stross--and we are fantastically underwhelmed by this Northwestern offense choosing between an immobile Kafka and an ineffective Dan Persa. A defensive touchdown is totally in play here.
This convincing win, coupled with Vanderbilt's stunning upset in Gainesville (oh, it's coming, and if it doesn't happen then Tim Tebow totally cheated) will put Iowa in the top 3 of the BCS--and that's before Texas forfeits their season on account of Colt McCoy being indicted on dogfighting charges.
Hey, why not, right?