The big game is just two days away and all is quiet on the Hawkeye front. What happened to all of the blowhards beating their chest about how this game is a complete mismatch? The talk has been going on for several months now, but it all seemed to stop this week. Where did all the trash talk go?
Could it be the narrow victory over FCS power house UNI last week? It can’t be that, we have heard from the Iowa “experts” that UNI would be a top 25 team and the Panthers would be a top 5 Big 10 offense. Others are 100% positive that Northern Iowa is a much better team than North Dakota State. If all this is true, then the Hawks win over the Panthers must be considered a quality win and they should easily handle a Cyclone team that went 2-10 last year.
The Hawkeye apologists can try to spin it however they want, but Northern Iowa exposed Iowa for what they really are……MEDIOCRE.
The Iowa State / Iowa game is not a mismatch. It hasn’t been for 10 years, but for some reason we go through this exercise every year.
Oh and more bad news. The game isn’t going to be moved to later in the season and the weather forecast for Saturday is clearing up.
One other item….I have heard some debate this week about who the best QB in the state of Iowa is. Is there really any debate? Is it even close? I heard Ken Miller suggest that Ricky Stanzi has the most upside of the three in-state quarterbacks. Really? Who has more upside then Arnaud when he learns Tom Herman’s system?
When comparing the QB’s please keep in mind what each QB is/has been asked to do. Austen IS the Iowa State offense, everything runs through him. It may change this year, but Ricky Stanzi’s role has been to hand off the ball, not make any mistakes and complete high percentage throws. I like Stanzi but Austen has a much higher ceiling.
OK now that I have that off my chest, let’s get to preview.
Iowa State Keys to Victory
1. Control the Tempo – As Kirk Ferentz said in this weeks press conference “whoever can dictate the tempo has an advantage.” OC Tom Herman has talked all off season about the importance of Iowa State controlling the tempo. In week one, both the Cyclones and Hawkeyes failed to control the tempo but still managed to escape with a victory. Whoever controls the tempo Saturday will win barring some catastrophic turnovers.
2. Find the Hawkeye TE’s – Iowa is still trying to find it’s running game, and until they find it I see them going to Moeaki and Reisner as a ball control option. The Cyclones have a history of getting burnt by the tight end. Iowa has two good ones and will most likely test our LB’s. Jesse Smith, Fred Garrin and company need to step up.
3. Win Special Teams – Iowa and Iowa State dominated on special teams last week. The kickers and punters for both teams are excellent. Everyone knows that Iowa blocked two field goals against UNI. The ISU kickoff return unit was really good and set up a couple scores. The Cyclones must win this phase of the game, look for Josh Lenz to do something special.
4. Limit Turnovers – I don’t think ISU has to win the turnover battle to win this game, but they certainly can’t lose the turnover battle and expect to win.
5. Spread Iowa Out on Defense – The overwhelming strength of the Hawkeye defense is the linebacking corps. The Cyclones need to make the LB’s play the entire field and keep them guessing.
Cyclone Players to Watch
1. Collin Franklin – Collin only had one catch in week one, but he is ready for a breakout game. ISU will spread the ball around on the outside and then pick their spots with shots down the middle. Franklin is the most likely target.
2. Darius Darks – Darius looked rusty last week, but reports say he is back in the groove. Last week was Hamilton’s week to shine, this week it’s Mr. Darks.
3. Leonard Johnson – If the running game isn’t working, Stanzi may be forced to take some chances to wide receivers. Watch for LJ to make a big play
The talent on the two teams is pretty equal. Iowa has a stronger defense, Iowa State has a better offense and both teams have very solid special teams.
Iowa State runs an offense that causes Iowa fits. Norm Parker runs a 4-3 defense and doesn’t like to change out of it. The Cyclones are loaded at receiver and the Hawks weakness is at corner after losing Jordan Bernstine to injury and Shaun Prater to suspension. Freshman cornerback Greg Castillo will get tested early and often.
Iowa wants to run the ball, but they are still shuffling around their offensive line. Kyle Calloway comes back this week and Julian Vandervelde could too, but they don’t have the consistency they would like at this point. Adam Robinson won the starting job at tailback last week, but Iowa fans are clamoring for Jeff Brinson or Brandon Wegher. If you listen to Kirk talk it doesn’t sound like either guy is ready yet. With the offensive line and running back positions still unsettled, the pressure could fall on Ricky Stanzi to win this game with his arm.
The Cyclone and Hawkeye special teams units were great last week. I believe the team that wins the special teams battle will win this game.
The home team has won the last five games in the Cy-Hawk series. I predicted an Iowa State victory before the season started and I haven’t seen anything to make me change my mind. Iowa fans will be down in the dumps after this loss and they face a tough Arizona team next week, but the good news is the Big 10 schedule is just around the corner.
Final Score: Iowa State 30 Iowa 28