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SoP Q-and-A: @RossWB talks Northwestern-Iowa, James Vandenberg's :(

Iowa football is in a bit of a funk, but Black Heart Gold Pants discusses how the Hawkeyes could beat Northwestern this year and also says some very bad things about nice people and we hate them.

Matthew Holst

We're too lazy to actually go ahead and learn anything about other teams, so we bring in people who know stuff about those teams so we don't have to sound like complete blowhards.

Today: Ross WB from Black Heart Gold Pants

All the noise from Iowa makes it seem very, very gloom and doom. But y'all are above .500 with a 2-1 record in conference. Is there an upside? (Also, confirm or deny: you guys almost went 0-4 in non-conference play.)

It's gloom-y and doom-y because we just got through re-enacting that one scene from AMERICAN HISTORY X. You know, THAT SCENE. With Matt McGloin -- Matt freaking McGloin! -- playing the role of Edward Norton. (We already know he's a ginger -- could he also be a neo-Nazi hatemonger? INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW. But, seriously, he's not. No libel here!) Iowa fans are used to at least being competitive (especially with Penn State, who as we all know used to be to us what we were to you guys, at least until last year) in games, so getting completely manhandled from the word "go" has been tough to swallow.

But in a big-picture sense, you're totally right. The Penn State game was an epic disaster, but it was also just one loss -- and it was a loss against a non-divisional opponent, so it doesn't even screw us over that much in terms of tiebreakers. We still have games ahead against the other Legends division contenders so we have a shot to pull something together out of this season. And the Big Ten is still, on the whole, pretty crappy. On the other hand, it's tough to be optimistic when you just got done looking like the J-V squad.

What are you guys doing to keep AIRBHG from Mark Weisman? Does this whole thing not effect him since he was supposed to be a fullback, or because he's a walk-on, or should he be a bubble boy right now?

It's because he's Jewish, no doubt. (Editor's note: !!!!!!!!) AIRBHG is very obviously an Old Testament God, which means he has a soft spot for his chosen people. But, seriously, he did sprain his ankle scoring the game-tying touchdown against Michigan State two weeks ago and that injury kept him from being very effective against Penn State last week. In the grand scheme of AIRBHG-induced ailments, that's certainly small potatoes -- but it could also be an appetizer from AIRBHG, a sign of bad things to come. (/knocks on every piece of wood nearby) I sincerely hope not, though, because the Iowa offense without Mark Weisman... well, I'd call it a "dumpster fire" but the truth is that would be an insult to dumpster fires.

So, uh, James Vandenberg?

Is a quarterback. Likes shooting bears. Has a hot mom. Will not be missed by most Iowa fans.

More detailed response? He's having a nightmare of a senior season right now. He looks broken, physically and mentally. He's nervous and jittery (despite not being sacked all that often this season), his mechanics have gone to pot, he's not seeing open receivers, and he's spending way too much thinking about what he's supposed be doing instead of just, uh, doing things. Suffice to say, he has not handled the adjustment from Ken O'Keefe as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach to Greg Davis as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach very well at all. We keep hoping for some kind of miracle turnaround, but that's starting to look very unlikely. On the bright, there's only five (maybe six) more games for him before he can go off to shoot bears and practice medicine and not have to worry about 70,000 people booing him because he can't throw a football to the right person. I think he -- and Iowa fans -- are looking forward to turning that page.

I feel like Iowa winning last year took some of the sting out of the Iowa-Northwestern "rivalry", which was solely composed of Iowa fans fuming at losing to Northwestern and Northwestern fans being uppity about it. Is there any hope for an NU-Iowa feud where we're both sorta average and win every once in a while, or would we go behind your natural rivals like those dudes who keep borrowing your pig?

Y'know, I think there might be something there and we probably have Jim Delany and his beloved divisions to thank for it. The divisional set-up has hurt Iowa's rivalries with two long-time border rivals, Illinois and (especially) Wisconsin. If we're lucky, we'll be playing them six out of ten years now, I think. A rivalry just isn't the same if you're not playing it every year. While Iowa lost Wisconsin to the divisional set-up they gained Nebraska and while that figures to be a big deal for us, we need to prove we can beat them, too. Minnesota is always going to be a big deal, too, since we play for a kick-ass rivalry trophy and because we've hated them (and vice-versa) for over 100 years now. But we have lots of space in our black hearts to hate, so I think we can make room for Northwestern, especially if we'll be playing every year (we will) and if we're fighting for the same spot in the Legends Division (which we might be).

I never pick against Iowa in these things, partly because the Big Ten is so mediocre this year I really think Iowa can beat just about any other team in the league if they play well and partly because I'm a shameless homer. So I'll go Iowa 24, Northwestern 20. Mark Weisman runs for two second-half touchdowns, James Vandenberg has a semi-decent day against Northwester's papier-mache secondary, and Mike Meyer bounces back with a game-icing field goal in the fourth quarter.