Register columnist Sean Keeler takes a look at college football:
When it comes to the Iowa-Northwestern game, expect the unexpected. The last five contests — four of them Wildcat victories — all have been upsets. During the past three meetings, the team that dominated momentum early was on its back by the end of the afternoon.
Iowa faithful tend to discount the last two Northwestern victories as colossal flukes, largely because of the turnovers — plus-7 in the Wildcats’ column — and injuries to Shonn Greene (‘08) and Ricky Stanzi (‘09). But those Wildcat teams also were fairly salty defensively. The current Northwestern defense, frankly, is a bit of a hot mess.
Coach Pat Fitzgerald’s pass rush and secondary are in rebuilding mode after star defensive end Corey Wootton (Bears) and underrated cornerback Sherrick McManis (Texans) moved on to the NFL. When the Wildcats sold out to stop Michigan State’s rushing attack last month, quarterback Kirk Cousins burned them for 331 passing yards and three touchdowns.
Last weekend, they made Penn State’s Matt McGloin look like the second coming of Kerry Collins. They’re also extremely susceptible to the play-action passes, misdirections and waggles that are the Hawkeyes’ lock, stock and barrel. Your serve, Mr. Stanzi. Your serve.
On paper, Saturday doesn’t look like much of a fight. Then again, Hawkeye fans have heard that song and dance before.
Q: OK, then, how would you explain the Wildcats’ success against Iowa?
A: It’s one of those things where you go in every week and prepare for a team in the Big Ten the same way. In the Big Ten, every game is a not-for-sure win, so you’ve got to go in every week (with) the attitude to prepare to go against (the next) team in the Big Ten like they are the best team. It’s definitely preparation, because Iowa is definitely one of the best-coached and most technically sound teams in the Big Ten.
Q: Those pink locker rooms at Kinnick haven’t bothered you much lately, have they?
A: (Laughs) When we first went in 2006, (I thought) their locker room was one of the best visitors’ locker rooms in the Big Ten — it’s clean and everything. It’s just pink, but the lockers are big and the toilets are clean. I actually like it because it’s clean and nice.
Q: So is Iowa officially a “rivalry” game for you guys? Is it circled on your calendars?
A: I would classify every game in the Big Ten as a rivlary game, but I wouldn’t say that we circled that game every year. We take the one-game-at-a-time approach. The thing is, the last few years, we’ve been winning the turnover battle and that kind of has to (owe) a little bit to luck, because those turnovers can go either way.
The Big Eight
Ranking the best in the Big Ten and Big 12:
|1. Nebraska||8-1||vs. Kansas|
|2. Wisconsin||8-1||vs. Indiana|
|3. Iowa||7-2||at Northwestern|
|4. Ohio State||8-1||vs. Penn State|
|5. Oklahoma State||8-1||at Texas|
|6. Michigan State||9-1||Idle|
|7. Missouri||7-2||vs. Kansas State|
|8. Oklahoma||7-2||vs. Texas Tech|
The Hot Seat
Which Big Ten or Big 12 coach is under the most pressure right now?
Dan Hawkins, Colorado
Just when it couldn’t get any worse for The Hawk, the Buffs give up 35 unanswered fourth-quarter points in a stunning loss at Kansas. With Colorado in the Big 12 North cellar, the end of the Hawkins Era is a “when” — not an “if.”
One man’s ballot
Top three candidates, right now, for the Heisman Trophy:
1. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon: Three more touchdowns against Washington.
2. Cam Newton, QB, Auburn: Will scandal scare off voters who don’t want another Reggie Bush regret?
3. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State: Torched Hawaii for 507 passing yards, but also threw two interceptions.
Set Your TiVo
Games you can’t miss on TV this week:
- So. Mississippi at Central Florida, CBS College Sports, 11 a.m.
Could be the best tilt that no one north of Memphis is talking about.
- Mississippi State at Alabama, ESPN 2, 6:15 p.m.
Can the Tide bounce back after getting burned by Lucky Les?
- Oklahoma State at Texas, ABC regional, 7 p.m.
Gundy’s surprising Cowboys suddenly sitting in the catbird seat in the Big 12 South.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football