I'm still letting this one sink in.
It's not every year you even get to play a top five ranked team, let alone beat one. I mean, at NU, it's not every half-century you beat a top five ranked team.
So, just enjoy this. Take all your nonsense about "this season is still kind of disappointing" and "oh, but the refs jobbed Iowa!" (yes, they did) "but Stanzi got hurt!" (first off. kid threw a pick too. and four in a quarter last week. maybe he hits djk on that long ball, but, the dude's not johnny friggin unitas. and second off, every team deals with injuries. we're dealing with them too!) and just take a few seconds, minutes, or hours to think about how great that win was for NU.
That win took a team that looked questionable for bowl season and essentially made them a lock for a postseason bid. If you ask people around NU what their goal is going into every season, I bet they'd say "to win a bowl game." Our program, as you know, has only been to back-to-back bowls once, and only won a bowl game once, and that was before my parents were alive. Either of those things happening would, in my opinion, make this a historic/successful season. This game probably doubled NU's chances at doing both of those things. Think about that for a second.
In fact, think about it the entire time I break down things that went well yesterday.
- Our defense. Back. I mean, going into this season, we talked about our defense being an elite unit. And the team that played yesterday - with every starter except Brendan Smith on the field - fit that description: they didn't allow a single sustained drive for points all game long, they forced four - four! - turnovers.
- I'm not a fan of hyperbole. (Actually, screw that, I am.) But I honestly don't think it's hyperbolic to call Wootton's strip-and-maim one of the most important plays in NU history. NU historians, if you can disagree with that statement, go ahead, I know I'm not as versed in Wildcats history as I should be. But without that play, we don't win that game. And without that game, well, this is a mediocre season at best. What Ferentz is thinking running a designed naked bootleg at our favorite formerly-formerly dynamic defensive end, I have no idea. But Wootton looked like that guy we knew not just on that one play, but all day: he's got more explosiveness than he had up till this week. He's back.
- A boring but effective thing to do in this post is just listing defenders who played excessively well yesterday: Nate Williams, David Arnold (those two dudes were literally making tackles EVERYWHERE), Quentin Davie, Marshall Thomas (apparently, the reason he's been playing all year is because he's really great at hopping on fumbles), well, our whole d-line, subs and starters, Sherrick McManis and Jordan Mabin (let's not talk about the DJK touchdown), Brad Phillips. Applause, all around. The d-line was able to shut down the rush - not totally surprising against a team that was missing it's top 8 running backs - but the pass pressure was something we haven't seen all year. And neither Stanzi nor Vandenberg could settle in, or, for that matter, complete anything.
- Mike Kafka cemented his place in our respective memories with the Minnesota game last year, and Persa, regardless of what the future holds (and I'm officially no longer scared), did that yesterday. Great game. Outside of the one ugly pass that got picked, he looked effective passing the ball, and, well, he's faster than Kafka. (less elusive, but faster. Both great runners.) I was not expecting that. Again, applause.
- There's some serious slurpage going on here, but Mike Kafka also had a cojones performance. I mean, to come back in after looking suspect at best (both passing and not being able to move) in the beginning and then just running things after Persa's injury.
- Scott Concannon. What? Where did this guy come from? He looked bad in the Towson game, then got a concussion, and then all of a sudden he comes back as a great runner against Indiana. I like his style: he's really good at waiting for his blockers to open up a hole where others might just try to plow through with speed, where Concannon knows his best option is to take it slow, see things develop, and then maybe just barely elude a hit. Only 60-odd yards on the day for him, but, damn, the guy doesn't go down unless you really hit him.
- And I think who you credit with Concannon's success that he didn't have earlier in the year, and Persa's being able to run with no pretense of passing (something that never happened when he came in to spell Kafka and got stuffed for gains of one or two earlier in the year) is our offensive line. Another unit that was supposed to be decent coming into the year and then looked they couldn't open up a hole for Adrian Peterson. But yesterday, they were getting a major push against Iowa's d-line - Iowa's d-line! Yeah, they weren't great at pass protection, but when Persa came in, that sorta stopped mattering.
- I think Stefan Demos could hit a 83 yarder. Just sayin.