In honor of a few of the more enjoyable films from the decade that brought you the end of the Cold War, the dawn of the postmodern age, the reappearance of flannel shirts, the promotion of multiculturalism, the cloning of sheep, and Mad Cow....the 1990s!
10. Dumb and Dumber. Ken O'Keefe and Kirk Ferentz are not only coaching colleagues, they're nearly lifelong bosom buddies who've each filled a suitcase full of money convincing Iowa football fans that boring football is, in fact, enjoyable football. These two have talked deep into the night debating and fantasizing about the perfect situation for a third down punt. Despite their chummy insistence on an offensive philosophy that limits Iowa to a million-to-one long shot to ever win the National Championship, Hawkeyes fans will all tell you they're just happy "there's a chance." Although, this Saturday when the Hawkeyes host the University of Louisiana-Monroe (ULM) at Kinnick, there really is no chance.
9. Groundhog Day. After playing nine straight quarters of uninspired and unimpressive football the sun finally came out for the Iowa Hawkeyes offense last Saturday as they put together a scintillating fourth quarter comeback against the Pittsburgh Panthers. This Saturday as the crowd awaits their beloved Hawkeyes to take the field, expect Iowa to emerge from the tunnel, see their shadow, and return to sucking and six more weeks of shitty football.
8. The Sixth Sense. No coach is more comfortable relying upon what psychologist J. B. Rhine formally termed as Extrasensory Perception (ESP) or what others simply call clairvoyance. Kirk Ferentz summons his unique precognition ability throughout a football game as he navigates his way through the crucial decisions that separate wins from losses. While other coaches meticulously analyze the endless possibilities and then create decision cards and the like, on game day Ferentz steps onto the field with the only thing he's ever needed, his gut. This Saturday, like every Saturday, the Hawkeyes will live or die by Ferentz's hunches, and knowing that...I see dead people.
7. Light Sleeper. Over the past few years when it comes to scheduling, ULM is not afraid to do some heavy lifting. They've played road games at Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona State, Clemson, Georgia, Texas A&M, and this year they've warmed up for their visit to Kinnick by adding Florida State and TCU to the bar. In comparison to those heavy wieghts, playing Iowa will feel like warming up with a batting doughnut. Expect Iowa to look like a bunch of dumbbells this Saturday as ULM feels little resistance on the way to a win.
6. The Player. Last year the College Football News named ULM redshirt freshman quarterback Kolton Browning a Freshman All-American. In 2010 Browning accounted for 244.8 total yards per game to rank third among all freshmen in the country, threw for 2,552 yards and 18 TDs with 12 INTs. Also a threat to take off and run if the situation warrants it, Browning is ULM's leading returning rusher after gaining 385 yards and four TDs. Browning is a lefty from Texas and the last time Iowa played a southpaw with skills, this happened. Expect Iowa to reprise their play from the first three quarters of the Pitt game before a Browning effect leads to the Hawkeyes being overcooked on Saturday.
5. Dazed and Confused. ULM plays a unique 3-3-5 alignment that Kirk Ferentz believes is unlike anything the Hawkeyes have ever seen. The defensive scheme is modeled on the same one that made Chicago Bears Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher a star playmaker at New Mexico. ULM Safety Darius Prelow will be playing the role of Urlacher in ULM's version. It works like this: on every play there's a blitzing linebacker or safety sprinting to fill a hole or gap. This movement confuses offensive blocking schemes and creates hesitation for running backs. This Saturday expect the Hawkeyes O-line to appear as if they're waving small red capes as onrushing ULM safeties and linebackers pass them repeatedly as Iowa tries to survive yet again without a running game.
4. Rushmore. Marcus Coker has carried the rock 69 times so far in the 2011 season, which is astonishing really. Only seven running backs nationally have carried it more often. Iowa benched Coker for the equivalent of a half in a blowout against Tennessee Tech and was in a 2-minute offense for 1/3 of the game against Pitt. So Coker has racked up the seventh most carries in the country in 9 of a possible 12 quarters (I know, he played in several OTs against ISU but I've already blocked that from my memory). KOK is well aware of this and his answer this week will be, of course, more cowbell. On Saturday expect ULM to carve a capital "L" on the face of Kinnick.
3. Quick Change. James Vandenberg was a clown for the better part of three quarters last week. By the fourth quarter though he was wearing a Tom Brady costume and the Pitt Panthers were clueless to his disguise. Expect Vandenberg to be in street clothes this Saturday as he robs Iowa fans of another "should-be" victory.
2. Out Of Sight. If most any other Big Ten team were to lose a career back-up linebacker to personal reasons it's highly unlikely it would make the notes section of the local sports pages. But when you're the Iowa Hawkeyes and have the depth of a Paris Hilton dinner conversation, losing Bruce Davis makes national news. Why? Because on Saturday Iowa will, of course, desperately have needed him.
1. The Crying Game. Need I say more?