10. Caught in a Trap. At first blush they appear innocuous and inconsequential but their sinister design is cunning, effective and extreme. The Northwestern Wildcats live if only to serve as Iowa's annual
booty booby trap. This year's Wildcats are especially committed to deceit and have shown they will spare nothing to convey their harmlessness. Last week, after thoroughly dominating Penn State and racing out to a 21-7 lead, the Wildcats regrouped at half, just in time to place special emphasis on not tackling or blocking in order to facilitate a complete and convincing second half collapse. Add to this highly orchestrated deception the distraction of Ohio State sitting one week away on Iowa's schedule, and a providential victory in the rearview mirror, and you end up with a Northwestern team perfectly poised to lure the Hawkeyes into cruel grief. Expect Iowa body parts to be strewn throughout Ryan Field on Saturday.
9. Persa Strings. Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa is rich with ability, he is a remarkably accurate passer who's also the focus of his team's run game. He leads the nation in completion percentage, is 10th nationally in passer rating, and last weekend at Penn State rushed for over a 100 yards. In short, Persa controls the Northwestern offense. Stop Persa and you stop the Wildcat offense, or so it would seem. The Hawkeyes thought as much last year and limped off the field with a loss. Consider this: Persa contributed greatly to his 1-0 career record versus Iowa while Ricky Stanzi has never, in his three years of action for Iowa, contributed to a victory over Northwestern. Expect Persa to flaunt his wealth of talent this weekend.
8. Slash and Burn. No pass pattern more effectively exploits the conventional Cover 2 defensive scheme than the Slant Route. The play calls for the receiver to run up the field at approximately a 45-degree angle, heading to the gap between the safeties and the linebackers. Usually, the pass is employed when the corner is playing further away from the receiver, so a quick pass can be completed before the defender has time to try to break up the play. Michigan State ran the route endlessly with sensational success and might have run it 10 or even 20 times more had they not fallen so far behind. Expect Northwestern to leverage QB Dan Persa's hyper-accuracy and torch Iowa's vanilla Cover 2 scheming, per usual, on their way to endless 9 yard gains and a decisive victory.
7. Trump This. He stands only 6-foot, weighs a tad over 200-pounds, and has great bloodlines (he is the nephew of former Illinois and NFL tight end Bob Trumpy). Northwestern running back Mike Trumpy earned scholarship offers from schools as far west as Stanford and as far south as Vanderbilt. Notre Dame, Alabama, Tennessee, Colorado, Louisville, Georgia Tech and all the Big Ten and Mid-American Conference schools expressed interest in him, but Trumpy closed his recruitment early with Northwestern. What makes Trumpy such a weapon lying in wait? His athleticism. While on Wheaton North's highly rated track and field squad was timed in 4.5 seconds for 40 yards, 10.7 seconds for 100 meters and 14.28 seconds for the 100-meter high hurdles, and has been timed in 7.4 seconds in the 55-meter high hurdles to tie Olympian Greg Foster's record. Expect Northwestern to play the Trumpy card often on the way to winning the whole pot this weekend.
6. Red Scare. Shortly after the end of World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, something called the Red Scare crept into the collective psyche of America. A nationwide fear of communists, socialists and anarchists emerged in 1919 following a series of public bombings. The nation was gripped in fear. Ultimately innocent Americans were jailed for expressing their views, civil liberties were ignored, and many people feared that a Bolshevik-style revolution was at hand. All that, and Iowa suddenly and inexplicably cannot score from inside the 20-yard line.
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 doesn't even attempt to recruit actual athletes because their admissions standards are just so gosh darn high. Well, there's that and real men wouldn never be caught alive wearing 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 expect Northwestern to outsmart the Hawkeyes this Saturday. [Republished from last year...'cause I likey]
4. Intelligent, Handsome, & Famous. Prime example of Northwestern's superiority? Steven Colbert. Class of 1987.
3. Idiosyncraticats. In a conference filled with highly unusual, if not downright strange team mascots, the Wildcats stand out for their unoriginality. Willie the Wildcat was not the team's first mascot; originally that distinction was given to a live, caged bear cub from the Lincoln Park Zoo named Furpaw. Beginning in 1923, Furpaw was driven to the playing field to greet the fans before each game. After a losing season, the team decided that Furpaw was the harbinger of bad luck and banished him from campus. Willie the Wildcat made his debut ten years later in 1933 as a logo, but did not actually come to life until 1947, when members of an on-campus fraternity dressed as him during the Homecoming parade. The switch was progressive and forward-thinking as it has ensured that Northwestern is now in PETA's good graces and deeply clichéd. Expect the team with the 5th most common team mascot to dull Iowa's senses on Saturday.
2. Fitz The Bill. Pat Fitzgerald is 3-1 as a head coach against Iowa and was 2-0 as a starting linebacker for the Wildcats in the 1990s. The man beats Iowa from muscle memory. Meanwhile, Kirk Ferentz is a flaccid 4 wins versus 5 losses against Northwestern as a head coach. You could scoff at those stats by arguing that Fitzgerald has made playing Iowa his personal Rose Bowl, except he has actually been to a Rose Bowl already and the Big Ten rarely wins that game anyway. Deal with it, Fitz owns the Hawkeyes.
1. Broderick Binns. Need I say more?