"We know what the other is thinking," Persa said after NU's 28-6 victory over Rice, "so we know how the other will react."
It was an option route, and Ebert cut left into open space to make the catch at NU's 34-yard line. Then he motored past safety Tanner Leland and used his sub-4.5 speed to take it home.
"It's a pretty surreal feeling," he said, "to see (nothing but) green grass in front of you."
But can the Persa-Ebert synchronicity possibly explain the one-armed catch that NU coach Pat Fitzgerald called "ridiculous"?
While out in a pattern, Ebert got turned around. At the instant he looked up, the ball landed in his rib cage, and he held on for a 33-yard grab.
"I ended up being like a ballerina out there," said Ebert, who made seven catches for 208 yards — besting his previous high of 147 receiving yards from seven days earlier.
The Persa-Ebert combo propelled the Wildcats to a third straight victory. At 5-5, all they need to do is beat Minnesota or Michigan State to become bowl eligible.
The Big Ten, though, already has eight bowl-eligible teams and might not get two in the BCS. But that's a topic for another time, not on a day in which the Wildcats enjoyed a rare stress-free victory.
"A very business-like performance," Fitzgerald called it.
Fitzgerald attributed his team's surge to attitude: "We were close in a lot of those (losses), but nobody likes to be close. When that happens, you can go one of two ways: Start pointing fingers and blame people or look inward.
"I have a poem that I love: 'The Man in the Glass (by Peter Dale Wimbrow Sr.).' You look in the mirror and say: 'What am I going to do about it?'"
NU's passing game produced four touchdowns and averaged 11.7 yards per attempt, but Persa said: "The defense is the reason we're winning now, not the offense."
Linebacker David Nwabuisi's response: "I disagree with that. He's being modest. The offense is definitely doing its job."
NU's defense shut down Rice (3-7) until the Owls' final drive. Rice gained 43 yards on a trick play — receiver Jordan Taylor fired the pass — and then scored on a 9-yard run to spoil the shutout bid.
Nwabuisi said NU coaches have simplified the defensive game plan and removed some checks, a response to having a secondary that was confused against Michigan and Iowa.
"We're all on the same page these days," Nwabuisi said.
Except regarding who deserves the most credit for NU's turnaround.