– Kickoff: 11 a.m.
– TV: BTN
– The stakes: Northwestern is 4-3, 0-3 in the Big Ten and rapidly turning into the great preseason hype that fizzled. Today is the day where the Wildcats throw a hook into their season and start the climb out of the crater or sink to the bottom.
Iowa is 4-3, 1-2. I can’t speak to what the mood has been inside the fences at practice this week, but outside in the world, there has been a positive energy around the program after last week’s effort at Ohio State. Iowa lost by 10. Moral victories are fictitious, but it has brought a positive energy. Can’t deny that.
– The two streaks that will crash into each other today are NU’s 0-3 in the Big Ten and the Hawkeyes four-game B1G losing streak at Kinnick Stadium.
Yes, Iowa has a four-game conference losing streak at Kinnick. That’s the longest such streak since Iowa lost six consective B1G games from 1998-99, Hayden Fry’s last year and Kirk Ferentz’s first.
– Today’s loser will have to vacuum out the couch cushions for two wins to gain bowl eligibility. For NU, who knows. Maybe Michigan and Illinois? For Iowa, Purdue and . . . don’t know. Maybe Michigan.
Today’s loser also can cross out any Legends Division title hopes.
– This week, you could argue the QBs are catching passes for the TEs warmup. Let’s see how much three TE happens today.
It’s pretty darn windy down there. I did a radio spot this morning with Andy Peterson and WMT and the awning nearly blew over a few times. And, no, it wasn’t hot air coming from me.
– I thought the piece I wrote on LB Christian Kirksey and becoming the guy who leads the huddle would get more play, but how it goes. The point with that post was it takes a whole lot more than just raising your hand to be a visibly vocal leader. You have to earn that.
– When he was leading Iowa’s D-line, I talked to Mitch King about the pregame burst of energy. Mitch was worth his weight in gold as far as notebooks go.
I talked to him about the subject during his senior season in ’08.
“I wanted to be the guy to get everybody pumped up,” he said. “At that point and time, I’m usually pumped up and things. I just wanted to express how important each and every game was.
“A lot of it wasn’t chanting and me hurrah-ing. It was more just me talking and trying to get the guys focused and into understanding what the importance of the game was and what it meant to us as players and us as a program.”
It all looks pretty much 100 mph. What’s going through your mind?
“A lot of things I don’t ever really think about before they come out of my mouth,” he said. “That goes good and bad. Sometimes I don’t really express what I really want to, but the guys on the team understand that I’m pumped up. They understand the gist of it. I don’t really think about it much before it comes out.”
Probably something you can’t rehearse.
“Even if you do, it’s going to change on the whim,” he said. “It’s going to change when you do it. You’ve got to be in the moment.”
Can you remember anything specific?
“I don’t remember the game, but I was pretty much just stuttering,” he said. “Well, not really stuttering, but I’d say things backwards and I’d miss words. I don’t remember the game, but it didn’t come out exactly the way I thought it would.”
Did anyone ask what you were trying to say?
“They all laughed and got excited and got amped up because I was so amped up.”
– Here’s LB James Morris on the topic:
“I’m the type of guy, there’s really nothing anyone is going to say to me before a game that changes how I feel or change how I play. That might be how it is for everybody, I don’t know. I think it’s more about being excited for the moment and hearing your teammate’s perspective. Sometimes, that can excite you or make you closer as a team. That’s probably the advantage to doing that. It’s not necessarily inspiring me, it’s not the “Braveheart” speech or anything like that.”
– TE Jake Duzey is out there and sleeveless. I’d say it’s low 40s and probably chillier with the wind.
– Health update:
NW RB Venric Mark has been ruled out. NU coach Pat Fitzgerald put him on the “Out” list on Thursday. That means “out.” Now, is there any accountability to that?
NW QB Kain Colter (ankle) is in. He practiced all week and said Tuesday he was definitely playing against Iowa. DT Sean McEvilly is in. That’s a big deal. He’s been out three weeks with an ankle injury. He’s the best inside DL Northwestern has. That’s a boost just when NU needed it.
Of course, Colter and Mark combined for 324 rushing yards against Iowa in a 28-17 victory at Ryan Field last year.
For Iowa, DE Dominic Alvis is out with a back injury. Ferentz said they took him off the two deeps to rest him. So, there you go, the two deeps do actually mean something.
Stay tuned for more on this end. More updates will come before kick.
– The only bowl scouts here are from Outback.
It’s possible, probably more remote than, say, the Texas Bowl or the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
– Mike Meyer is booting it easily 48 FGs with the wind to his back.
– NW kicker Jeff Budzien is short from 35 into the wind. The wind is field level and pretty wicked.
The wind is clocking 13 mph out of the NW.
– A new face at QB for Iowa: Justin Joyce, a 6-0, 170-pound walk-on from Virginia, is out there warming up.
– Fullback Adam Cox was knocked out of the game last week. He’s lined up with the first team.
– Ferentz said this week he goofed on the depth chart. Redshirt freshman Ryan Ward is the No. 2 RT, Cole Croston is not.
– Colter is out there and he seems to be moving well. Both ankles taped, but that’s probably standard.
– Alvis is not in uniform. Radio said KF is hoping for next week.
– With Alvis out, junior Mike Hardy gets his first career start. He’s a 6-5, 275-pounder from Appleton, Wis.
Iowa is vulnerable on the edge today. Sophomore Drew Ott had a few breakdowns that were costly at Ohio State. The trio that will see most of the time is Hardy, Ott and Nate Meier, who has gone from pass-rush specialist to full-service DE with Alvis’ injury. (Actually, bigger picture, Meier in two seasons has gone from eight-man football to Big Ten.)
Ferentz mentioned a fourth DE being in the rotation. I have no idea who that would be.
– Pat Fitzgerald: On Iowa’s offense, “It’s a ‘check with me system,’ and Jake Rudock does it well.” Calls Rudock a great fit to Iowa’s offense. Says he almost fell out of his chair seeing Iowa run the zone read with Rudock.
Fitzgerald on Mark: He’s out, hasn’t progressed. Have had him just one game. Don’t anticipate having him.
On Colter: He’s recovered and “we hope to have him in some sort of capacity.”
– Kick in 16 minutes. Join me on Twitter.