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Iowa's Bigach, Vandenberg Have Post-Football Careers Lined Up

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IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Steve Bigach has his Medical College Admission Test in the books. He did well and he'll begin applying to med schools right away.

The Iowa defensive lineman is whip smart, you know this if you spend two minutes with him. He answers every question with thought and depth. He also graduated from the UI in May with a degree in integrative physiology. He spoke with an uncle and a cousin who have medical degrees and mined them for a feel of what it takes to be a doctor.

He'll begin that quest after his last game as a Hawkeye.

"It's a 'they choose you' type of deal with medical schools," the Cleveland, Ohio, native said. "You apply to 10-plus places and hopefully, you get into one. I really have no clue what's going to happen in the next year, but I know I get one last opportunity as a Hawkeye."

Many, many, many of you have skipped past this game. The Hawkeyes (4-7, 2-5 Big Ten) play host to No. 17 Nebraska (9-2. 6-1) Friday. The Huskers have won five straight. The Hawkeyes have lost five straight. Nebraska is playing for a the Legends Division title and a berth opposite Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game.

Many, many, many tickets for the game have changed hands on this week. The Huskers' "Sea of Red" is a difficult estimate, but 10,000 isn't an outrageous projection.

Iowa will be bowl-less for the first time since 2007 and will finish the regular season below .500 for the first time since 2000. Nineteen seniors, coach Kirk Ferentz's smallest class, will take the walk Friday. Bigach might not be the only future med student.

Quarterback James Vandenberg also graduated in May with a degree in integrative physiology. He'd like to enter the field of medicine with his father, Toby, an emergency room doctor in Burlington. Quarterback, emergency room doctor? That makes sense.

Being a quarterback for a Big Ten football team can take a toll on school. Vandenberg said, "My GPA is good, not great for med school. It all comes down to when and if I want to take the MCAT. That could be sometime this spring and then I could apply. I've taken all the hard classes, I've gotten that out of the way, now it's the MCAT or the GRE, depending if I want to go to med school or PA (physician's assistant) school."

Practice, study video and then study for a highly competitive field that you want to make your life's work. College football sounds impossible sometimes.

"It's the mental wear and tear of a season," Vandenberg said. "When you come home from practice or from camp, the last thing you want to do is sit there and read a book. It's hard to keep your eyes open. The hardest part is managing time to give yourself enough time."

So, Iowa seniors, you suffer an injury, say a broken arm or finger, who do you want setting that broken bone in the ER? Do you want the whip smart D-lineman or the workaholic QB?

"Oh man, jeez, that's a tough question," said cornerback Micah Hyde, who'll make his 38th career start today. "I'm going to go with . . . jeez . . . let's say Bigach.

"He's going to be the type of doctor who tells you how it is, what we can do and the result of everything. And he's going to keep talking and talking and talking and kind of talk you to death, so you're going to finally be like, 'All right, just do it.' "

Center James Ferentz, who's also started 38 straight games, knows Vandenberg well. This is where the QB-center relationship paid off.

"I'd have to say Vandenberg, just because I've been with him for five years now, I'm pretty comfortable with him," he said. "It's good to have a doctor, but I might need a lawyer at some point. I hope someone goes to law school so I'm covered."

Of course, wide receiver Keenan Davis picked Vandenberg, whose completed 96 passes to the Cedar Rapids Washington grad in the last two seasons.

"Umm, well, I think I'd want Vandy," Davis said. "But Bigach and I are kind of lockermates. We joke around a lot, but I think Vandy would pay attention to detail and not joke around as much."

Of course, Davis was kidding. That's what lockermates, teammates and classmates do.

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