Who's your pick to click?
Jon: It has to be Albert Young. The kid knows that he is some 120-some yards away from the 1,000 yard mark. He is going to be running incredibly hard on Saturday. He will have to earn every yard, as I think Western Michigan will follow the tried and true 2007 formula of stuffing the box and making Iowa beat it through the air. But Iowa should be able to win the battle at the line of scrimmage.
Rob: The Broncos allow 194 yards per game on the ground. Iowa should be able to run the ball. Therefore, for a second week in a row, I'll go with Albert Young, who needs 127 yards to reach 1,000 for the season. The Hawkeyes got away from the run last week against a Minnesota team that allowed more than 230 yards per game, but I expect they'll force the issue a lot more on Saturday.
Brian: I think I'll go with a defe.... just kidding. Albert Young.
If Iowa wins this game, which bowl game do you see them going to, and against whom?
Jon: I will go with Colorado in the Insight. There is a lot on the line this weekend in Boulder, with Nebraska visiting. Both teams are 5-6 and need a win to get bowl eligible. I think that Colorado has played more consistent football over the last month, but both teams have been drubbed. It's just that Nebraska has been drubbed more than most, and playing in the altitude of Colorado gives the Buffs an advantage. They win, Nebraska stays home, and Colorado travels to Arizona to face the Hawks…only in the Hawkeyes win their game.
Rob: I'll go with the Insight as it appears to be the clear favorite. I'm not convinced that the Champs is out of this deal yet. I also think there's a chance that we might not know the Hawks' destination for a few weeks. If Michigan beats Ohio State, the BCS could hold up the Buckeyes for a possible spot in one of its bowls, therefore gumming up the works for the Big Ten. But I'll play the odds and say Insight with the opponent being Oklahoma State and Mike "I'm a man. I'm 40" Gundy.
Brian: I'm going to go with the Insight.com bowl against a lame-duck Bill Callahan and the Nebraska Cornhuskers. I, for one, hope that Ohio State wins, getting this whole situation sooner, rather than later.
Will this week's press release affect the team?
Jon: I don't think that it will. Thanksgiving break is coming up and the players can see the finish line in a season that has been full of adversity. The team probably has more information than the rest of us do, and they have probably been in the know with regards to a possible pending storm since mid October. None of that is intended to make light of the press release, or the information it contained.
Rob: It certainly has to have impacted them to a degree, but I don't think it will affect their performance on Saturday. They've already been through a ton this season on and off of the field. These players may not combine to be the most well-oiled machine, but they resilient and tough. If anything, this will motivate them even more.
Brian: Not on the field, no. If the reports by various newspapers are true, at least two of the players haven't been with the team in over a month. If anything, it might make the seniors more angry, someone trying to take the spotlight during senior week. Shouldn't affect the outcome, though.
Do you prefer the season to end with Big Ten games, or do you like seeing an out of conference opponent?
Jon: There is a small part of me that thinks it would be something special if the Iowa-Iowa State game was played at the end of the year. I have changed my view on this through the years, as well. Honestly, is Minnesota Iowa's biggest rival right now? Wisconsin? I don't think so. Iowa State seems to occupy that position, and so many of college football's greatest rivalries take place at the end of the season. I know that Kirk Ferentz probably wouldn't a fan of it, but I wouldn't mind seeing Iowa and Iowa State square off the week before Thanksgiving on an annual basis. As for Western Michigan, not so much.
Rob: In a perfect world, I'd like it to be Minnesota because that just feels right. That said, I think it's OK this season because it's essentially a must-win and probably will have the atmosphere of a conference game. If Iowa were 1-10 or 8-3 right now, it might be tough to excited about this one. It might be cool to have Iowa State as the last game of the season.
Brian: I'd vote for Minnesota to end the season, like Rob. Obviously this year it didn't hurt, but can you imagine if Iowa was 4-7 heading into this game instead of 6-5? Would those final ~1000 tickets sell out? I think not.
Who was Iowa's MVP this season?
Rob: I'll go with Mike Humpal. It's not just because he leads the Big Ten in tackles. While the numbers are great and certainly play into this, I just have gotten the feel during this season that Mike has been one of the top senior leaders on this team. And I credit the seniors for holding this ship together when it fell apart last season when things got tough. He also deserves from credit for playing with a bum ankle the last two weeks. That certainly sends a message to teammates.
Brian: I'm with Rob, Humpal. When Klinkenborg went down, everyone was very, very concerned about where the rest of the tackles would come from. Coleman and Gattas had performed well, but neither could replace the savvy and production Klink provided. Humpal stepped up, doing his best Chad Greenway impression at WLB, just finding the ball on any given play. Without that production, Iowa would have been in a world of hurt.
Jon: The first name that popped into my mind is Mike Humpal. He has had an excellent year, and I think he has been one of the best linebackers in pass coverage in the Kirk Ferentz era. Oh yeah, he can tackle to, as he has hit 18 tackles in a game on two different occasions. He is showing his toughness down the stretch playing on a bad leg. I think Albert Young deserves mention here as well.
How devastating would it be if Iowa lost this game?
Rob: Incredibly. I remember we answered a question a few weeks ago about the importance of the Northwestern game, and I downplayed it a bit. In hindsight, it was very, very big. As a result, it makes this week's contest huge. Now, with the win in Evanston and last week against Minnesota, Iowa fans expect the Hawkeyes to head to a bowl. Thinking about the reaction if that possibly falls through with a loss on Saturday and the word that comes to mind would be devastating.
Brian: Let's not even think about that. I can't imagine what sort of state the HawkeyeNation forums would be in. I think we might just have to shut them down, otherwise they might implode.
Jon: It would be pretty rough, because of how hard this team has fought to turn things around from the 2-4 start. I don't know that I would say devastating, because they wouldn't have a game to prepare for the next week, and the long off season would wash away the pain. But for the seniors, it would be a mighty blow. I hope we don't have to write about that on Saturday.