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just Northwestern Rides Again

This is a recap post. I will discuss what happened in the Iowa-Northwestern game in the post. That is the primary purpose of the post.

But, for fun, antagonizing purposes, let's get the Iowa stuff out of the way, because it's the stuff that will probably rile people up the most.

Thursday night I was chilling at the Daily, editing tthis sick article by Colin Becht which quotes heavily from my SB Nation bro - and guy who graciously let me on the BHGP podcast - Adam Jacobi.

Quoth Jacobi:

"Northwestern is a rival insofar as the team beats Iowa far more than it ought to, and usually at a greater cost to the Hawkeyes' season than Iowa victories over Northwestern," Jacobi wrote. "That is because Northwestern does not have good seasons. It has one-game seasons, and those are against Iowa."

I love this. I enjoy the fact that Iowa fans try to act like they disregard Northwestern. I like that they call us just Northwestern. I like that every year, Iowa fans prepare for victory before the Northwestern game.

I say this in part because the guys at BHGP are awesome and write the best Big Ten blog on the internet. But I say this in part because the whole Iowa-Northwestern thing is just hilarious. I'd let it go, but then Jacobi - you my boy, Jacobi - posted this Saturday, so let me get this out of the way.

First off, the one-game season thing is hilarious because NU has the same record as Iowa, and had the same record as Iowa two years ago, and had the same record as Iowa three years ago. Yes, NU has won its one-game season against Iowa in three of those four years, but they also had the exact same record as Iowa in three of those four seasons. Of course, in that one year, Iowa was one of the best teams in the country and went 11-2. Also, in one of the others, NU had the better regular season record, but Kirk Ferentz has one of the best programs in the nation. I like you guys. But you don't get to act like you're in a completely different league than another school when a senior in college this year doesn't remember you ever being in a different league than Northwestern while he was at college. I'm surprised when the Cats lose to Purdue because NU is better than Purdue pretty much every year. I'm not surprised when NU beats Iowa because NU has a similar record to Iowa almost every year.

Now, the just Northwestern thing. (Because apple-f-ing "Just Northwestern" on BHGP has five hits on the front page.) I'll say the same thing I say every year: keep calling NU that. As long as you don't mind losing to a team you call "just Northwestern" year after year after year. Because if you do that, we'll have to start calling you "just Iowa."

On to the other stuff.

  • Goodnight, sweet Prince of Persa. I wish I was wearing multiple caps, so I could tip them all to Dan Persa for his performance both Saturday and also throughout the regular season. A statsheet can tell you he had an amazing game: 32-43, 302 yards, two touchdowns and a pick to go along with 50 yards rushing, just one short of the team high, despite several sacks. But that just doesn't do him justice: we see multiple drops for first downs - including one that literally bounced out of Tony Jones' hands and into that of an Iowa defender, only his fourth pick thrown on the year. We see him making throws - bullets! - on the run all day. Scrambling. Crashing off defenders for an extra yard. And we see his iconic career image - most likely: leading a game-winning drive against a ranked team, AND COMPLETING A GAME-WINNING TOUCHDOWN PASS DESPITE RUPTURING HIS ACHILLES WHILE RUNNING AWAY FROM ADRIAN CLAYBORN. Last year's Iowa game saw Ricky Stanzi get injured on a play that resulted in a Northwestern touchdown. This year's Iowa game saw Dan Persa get injured... on a play that resulted in a Northwestern touchdown. It's been two days. I still can't get over that pass. I don't care how he got injured - it looks like it happened while he was running away from Clayborn to me, just a freak thing - I cannot believe how amazing a storybook that is. All the props to Persa on a spectacular season. For ten games, Dan Persa was Northwestern's offense: he threw or ran for 24 of 31 NU touchdowns, and will finish the year most likely leading NU in rushing yards as well as, obviously, passing yards, despite being one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the country. He will easily break the Big Ten record for highest completion percentage in a season - you need to throw 100 passes, he's thrown 302, completing 222 for a nation-high 73.5 percent, snapping the current Big Ten record by about six percentage points. (This is pending on Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien not increasing his percentage over 73.5 in the season's last two games.) Thank yous are necessary to Dan Persa. Here's to seeing him back at 100 percent next year. 
  • Alright, I'm going to start keeping track of this: Drake Dunsmore cannot be tackled by one person. I counted at least three opportunities when one person tried to tackle him on Saturday and needed backup. The only time he went down because of one person was when he intentionally ran out. Obviously there's a lot of evidence - i.e., the Outback Bowl, his millions of truckings - but I'm pretty sure that one human being cannot tackle Drake Dunsmore by himself. PRactice with him vs. the Northwestern defense and their... tackling skills must by hilarious.
  • NU will miss Nate Williams next year. He's everywhere over the middle of the field, and Saturday that really showed. The run defense looked suspect - luckily, Iowa was convinced the answer was deep passes by Ricky Stanzi, which worked approximately once, on the touchdown pass - except for Williams and Jack DiNardo up front. The only two players on the defense I'm convinced can make one-on-one tackles consistently.
  • Awesome moment: when Iowa's cheerleading squad got the "I" flag caught on the Ryan Field goalpost and had to spend like 20 seconds untangling it. I normally don't support the "STAAAATE SCHOOL" chant, but, things that dumb deserve that.
  • Jeravin Matthews is the world's best gunner. It's a shame someone as great athletically as he is hasn't been a bigger factor at NU, but, damn, can that man play gunner.
  • Iowa fans - thanks for selling out our stadium! Dan Persa's Achilles rehabilitation is going to be expensive.
  • Mike Trumpy might not have any hands, but he's somehow becoming a very valuable part of our passing game. Didn't see that coming three months ago. And he's definitely our only run option now - Adonis Smith, two carries for five yards - although he did do quite a bit of route-running - and Arby Fields, one rush for you guessed it -3 yards.
  • So this Iowa fan heard us gloating after the game - I mean, bro, it's what you do when you win and there are 30,000 Iowa fans - and turned around and said in a really quiet voice "look, I don't normally say stuff like this, but I hope his knee is f*cking ruined." I don't normally say stuff like this, but you're a huge asshole. It was pretty funny, because the guy kept walking about three feet in front of us, and we kept yelling stuff like "you know, I don't normally say stuff like this, but I'd rape that kid" and "you know, I don't normally say stuff like this, but I hate Jews." He didn't turn around to talk to us again.
  • Iowa people were probably confused about the field-storming: we do that every year if we win on Senior Day. It's the greatest tradition of all, by which I mean it's a pretty crappy, but very fun tradition. I yelled "GET SOME!" at a variety of football players, especially Rashad Lawrence and Brandon Williams, at whom I also yelled "GOOD PUNTING, GOOD PUNTING MAN".
  • I hope Evan Watkins is good at running, because our offensive line is not very helpful. Iowa rarely sent non-d-linemen as blitzers, but had no trouble putting absurd amounts of pressure on Persa. Part of this is because they have a great line - Clayborn and Daniels are beasts - but part of it is because four d-line players constitutes a full-out pass rush against NU. Whenever they actually blitzed somebody, horrendous things happened. 
  • I figured out why they call it "the option": Northwestern has the option to either pick up a gain of one or a loss of two when they run the option. Stop it.
  • I've decided to alternate between calling him "First Down Charlie Brown" - when he catches first downs - and "Fourth Down Charlie Brown" - for when he blatantly drops them.
  • Props to Chad, Northwestern's DJ for getting the crowd pumped up with a variety of awesome songs towards the end of the game. Un-props for making them all songs other teams already played. Every time "Zombie Nation" came on - about 18 times - me and my friend yelled "WE ARE PENN STATE". Keep doing what you're doing though - the crowd was loving it. It's weird having an actual stadium atmosphere.
  • Northwestern's defense is frustrating to watch. We know that. But PROPS to them going 2-14 preventing third downs. Some of this is on Iowa's dumb penalties - weird, that not being us - but, great stat. Even if it goes along with Iowa being 3-4 on fourth down conversions.
  • In-person blog reader encounters ending in requests for shout-outs, edition two: I see you, Cody Lawrence. Hope you're as pumped to finally see Arkansas-Pine Bluff in person as I am.
  • Sometimes I wonder whether I'm a bad person for persistently showing up to games after Northwestern already has scored. Maybe. But I tend to think I'm the best person.
  • About halfway through the third quarter, the topic of conversation came up as to how much I wanted Stefan Demos' first-half missed field goal back, on a scale of one to Outback Bowl. That went from "4" to "8" to "9" to "9.Outback." It was a tough field goal - 40-ish yards into a strong wind - but, oooh, that was frustrating.