Are we supposed to be scared of you?! Gimme a break! Haw haw h
Okay, so both our mascots are a little... non-threatening. Let's look at the more hostile gladiators below.
WHEN IOWA HAS THE BALL
Iowa OL vs. Northwestern DL
For as much credit that belongs to Albert Young for his Superman performance last weekend, the simple fact is that the offensive line was downright nasty after halftime. The Spartans stuck at least eight in the box for most of the second half and dared Iowa to pass; Iowa just ran it straight at them anyway and clawed their way back into the game. As for the Northwestern defensive line, ye gods.
Iowa WR/TE vs. Northwestern DB
Freshmen! Everywhere! Almost exclusively! Between the two receivers and the TE spot, only one member of the two deeps (junior TE Brandon Myers, who will never be confused for Tony Moeaki) is past his first season of eligibility. We fully expect Tacopants to lead the team in receptions, as he has done since Week 3. As for the Northwestern defensive secondary, ye gods.
Iowa RB vs. Northwestern LB
Albert Young is dinged up after last week, which is probably to be expected when you have 34 carries so packed with unchecked hostility. He left the game on what turned out to be their penultimate offensive play with a clearly hurt shoulder, his arm dangling limply by his side. Nonetheless, there's no indication from the team that Young will miss any time. Damian Sims is also still on the depth chart after missing some snaps last week with a sore foot, so expect both to be toting the rock plenty next week. As for the Northwestern linebackers, ye goddamn gods.
Iowa QB vs. Northwestern D
The entire Northwestern defense is putrid, miserable, and alarmingly bad. If it weren't for the Rob-Zombie-graphic horror show in Minneapolis, Northwestern would be home to the conference's worst defense. A decent quarterback should expect to put up good stats. Jake Christensen, however... is Jake Christensen. From EDSBS:
"one of the truly, stunningly horrible performances in the history of winning football after last week’s double overtime win over Michigan State. Christensen completed three passes in regulation for 24 [23, technically. --OPS] yards, but didn’t throw an interception, which is like the quarterbacking version of playing dead."
Consider this matchup a preview to Notre Dame-Navy. We're talking world-class pillow fighting.
WHEN NORTHWESTERN HAS THE BALL
Northwestern OL vs. Iowa DL
The good news is that Ken Iwebema is back in the lineup. The better news is that Adrian Clayborn looked great in his absence last week, so even if Iwebema's still got some cobwebs to shake out, there'll be little dropoff in performance. Iowa could use another disruptive game from their front four; for as much of a "timing" offense as Northwestern runs, if Bacher has to start improvising, it will likely play to Iowa's advantage.
Northwestern WR/TE vs. Iowa DB
I'll be honest, I don't know a damned thing about any of these guys. I was so confused that I voted for Kim Thompson on LTP's "Pick to Click" poll. I've always said, "when in doubt, vote for the girl." I've also always said, "never ever rip anything off of those pigfucking White Sox announcers," but whatever, LTP and I agree to disagree.
Northwestern RB vs. Iowa LB
I've always thought that if I had just scored an easy touchdown, I'd go find the nearest television camera and direct it toward my crotch. Granted, this has nothing to do with Northwestern's running game, but I'll take any excuse to take my mind off the late rumors that Mike Humpal will be missing the Northwestern game with an injured ankle. He's only the co-leader in tackles in the Big Ten and a probable all-conference player. We certainly wouldn't care if both he and Klinkenborg were sidelined against a tailback that lit Iowa up for over 200 yards last year. No sir. There's no sense of despair here.
How much weight do you think a ceiling fan can hold, incidentally? Would a grown man be able to suspend himself from, let's say, a noose?
Northwestern QB vs. Iowa D
CJ Bacher likes to dink, dink, dink the ball down the field, which either plays perfectly into Iowa's defensive scheme or wrecks it entirely, depending on how accurate his passes are (usually, the answer is "very"). Iowa is definitely missing Mike Klinkenborg, Adam Shada, and Devan Moylan, and might be without the services of Mike Humpal, depending on if certain people are completely full of shit or not. The three or four of them may look forward to an Injured Senior Defensive Starter party on Iowa's sidelines today. In case you were curious, Adam Shada brings comic books and Moylan makes sure there's plenty of Mr. Pibb for everybody. Either way, this game will be another critical test for the 10 freshmen that currently inhabit Iowa's 2-deeps on defense. Yeah.
The way Iowa's injury and "extra-curricular" problems have gone, let's just be pleased that Daniel Murray and Austin Signor have made it this far without their arms falling off or a suspension for tossing Molotov cocktails at an elementary school. Murray has settled into his role kicking field goals, hitting five of his last six tries. Austin Signor, meanwhile, has taken up booting kickoffs into the end zone, which can only signal a Floyd Landis-like unnatural spike in testosterone. Even formerly maligned punter Ryan Donahue has turned his shanks into bombs, including an 81-yard game-changer in the fourth quarter last week that helped him earn Special Teams Player of the Week. The NCAA is considering an investigation into whether special teams coach Lester Erb has been giving the three men Powerthirst.
While neither head coach doesn't seem particularly bad, at no point has Pat Fitzgerald ever resembled a Coach of the Year candidate. He'll be a good coach, but he's seemed overmatched against talented opponents and smart coaches all year. Can he solve a properly motivated Norm Parker defense? Certainly, he did last year, but that was an Iowa team so out of sorts and uninterested that it's fine if you (and the team) just want to proceed as if that part of the season never happened.
Meanwhile, Kirk Ferentz is Kirk Ferentz, but then again there doesn't seem to be a member of the Northwestern coaching staff who is nearly as reviled by the fan base as Ken O'Keefe is by the Iowa faithful. So let's just call this matchup a draw. Overall, looking at the individual matchups, it seems safe to say Iowa can win this one 83-9. They're certainly due for another win in Evanston. But! Just to be safe, worst-case scenario, Iowa wins 45-20.
Okay, it's actually a toss-up, but it's... Northwestern. I'm getting ill just thinking of another loss up there.