10. Don't Believe the Hype, it's a Sequel. So........I wonder if you've seen this one before? A nationally ranked Iowa Hawkeyes team, with a couple of key players suspended, play the first game of the season, at home, against a nationally ranked FCS team with tons of returning starters, called...the Panthers? Uh, yeah the Panthers. It's déjà fucking vu all over again. Well, thankfully the Panthers star QB from a year ago, former Hawkeye Jake Christensen who transferred to Eastern Illinois and promptly led them to the FCS playoffs, has graduated. So that should make this sequel better, right? Uh, actually no. Sequels are usually not very good to begin with and if Dumb and Dumberer taught us anything it's that when stars miss the sequel...it's usually a debacle. If you're smart you'll instead go see the Karate Kid...or The A-Team or Robin Hood or...
9. Running with the Devil. What was once thought to finally be a preseason strength has turned out instead to be a regular season nightmare. Like me you were probably hoping the return of the PakiBomb to the two deep at running back was nothing more than a Schlitz Malt Liquor fueled daydream. It's not; it is the new Iowa running back reality. Expect Eastern Illinois to completely disregard the Iowa ground game and quintuple cover McNutt and DJK while rushing Stanzi with Spyros Bazigos, and only Syros Bazigos. By the way, Spyros Bazigos is not the scientific name for a daffodil; it's the name of a Greek man-child who plays defensive tackle for EIU. He can bench press the Parthenon and for an offensive line which--HELLO!--has the least number of total starts in the Big Ten, he will be more than enough for all of them all by his lonesome.
8. Nasti Boys. If "Nasti Kickels" sounds like a wicked fungal infection to the area around your genitals, you're not far off. Nick Nasti and Gordon Kickels anchor the best linebacking corps in the entire FCS and they are a pain in the groin to be sure. It is going to take more than a can of Cruex and a bootleg to shake these guys. Expect a long day of seat wriggling thanks to the crotch rot they'll create.
7. Fake Plastic Trees. No team in the A.P. Preseason Top 10 is less authentically a threat to win the MNC than the Iowa Hawkeyes. In 2009 Iowa won no less than four games they easily could have lost (three of those at home), and relied on a sequence of small miracles to beat a vastly inferior Indiana team. One season later Iowa has lost 3/5ths of its offensive line, has lost its best cornerback, best two linebackers, and best tight end. It arguably has not upgraded a single position with new personnel. It won't take long for the Panthers to realize that my fake plaaaaaaastic love is in fact an artificial, recycled version of last year's team.
6. Pick Me. There is no question that Ricky Stanzi at this point is a folk hero and Iowa's most prominent patriot. He's also an interception machine who threw more picks per attempt than any other FBS quarterback last year, and that was with an experienced offensive line on a team that went 11-2. To test his own resolve (it seemed) Stanzi threw five interceptions in three quarters against Indiana, a pick six on Iowa's second offensive play of the game against Michigan, a pick six early on to kill all the momentum in the world in the Orange Bowl, and a total of four pick sixes in all. It would be easy to say that he has learned his lesson and it's impossible for him to be as clumsy on the out pattern this year as last. That is, until you read his career completion percentage is a below average 57% and the man has thrown an interception in 14 of 22 career starts. The question no longer is "Will Stanzi throw an interception?" it is now a question of how many...pick sixes...will Stanzi throw? But, expect only one against the Panthers as he sheds his offseason rust.
5. Foolish Games. A year ago this time Hawkeye fans slipped into a slight depression when they learned that the Jewel of their Shonn Greeneless backfield would miss the season due to a knee injury. He's missing again, although his excuse now is a one game suspension due to this. One would be foolish to think that playing the Panthers without Hampton in the backfield is no big deal. It is. Brandon Wegher is MIA. The freshmen are all busted up. PackiBomb? Please! We're left with one smallish man at running back, and if he goes down in this game the season follows with him as Ken O'Keefe and Kirk Ferentz without a running game are like you without your iPhone--aimless and ordinary.
4. Blue Gene. Eastern Illinois has a football gene that is to be envied. They have already produced more NFL production at the QB position than has Iowa (Tony Romo vs. every Iowa QB ever settles that). They are a coaching hothouse too, having produced Brad Childress, Mike Shanahan, and Sean Payton. Okay, sure, those guys went to EIU as athletes and became coaches later on but clearly there is something in the coursework...or the dorm food. EIU has produced some impressive NFL minds and throw in that EIU produced Matt Painter and voila, genetic jackpot. Expect the latent Fuck Iowa gene to emerge this week.
3. Suspicious Minds. Because of last year's near death experience in the season opener against UNI it seems Hawkeye Nation is being lulled to sleep by the assumption that lighting doesn't strike twice in the same place. Tell that to this guy. It's hard to believe that the first game of the year could qualify as a trap game, but this one does. By simple definition, a trap game is one where a team is looking past their opponent towards the one they will be playing the following week. The following week Iowa plays Iowa State in the Adrian Clayborn Thinks You Don't Exist Bowl. It would be swell to think that the Hawkeyes will earnestly take EIU seriously, but then you read this and suddenly you realize, "you're caught in a trap."
2. Oops Upside Your Head. Spoo is gonna get you. No, not that stuff that comes out of a player's mouth after he's been hit by Adrian Clayborn. And not the rations they ate with great delight on arguably the best science fiction television show of all time, Babylon 5. No the Spoo that's gonna wreck your Saturday morning is Bob Spoo, head coach at Eastern Illinois since Ronald Reagan told Gorby to tear down the Berlin Wall. He's got more coaching trophies than Norm Parker has toes and he's backed up Len Dawson, coached Mark Hermann, Jim Everett, and Scott Campbell at Purdue and Tony Romo at Eastern Illinois. He made something of Jake Christensen, which is enough to convince me the guy knows his shit. Expect his team, and particularly his QB, to exceed expectations on Saturday in what will feel like a cross between a migraine and this.
1. Daniel Murray and Trent Mossbrucker. Need I say more?