Just over 24 hours until the kickoff of the 2011 Pinstripe Bowl. Iowa State and Rutgers have been preparing for almost a month for this game. After doing hours or reading and research on this matchup, I have come up with my three keys to a victory for the Iowa State Cyclones tomorrow.
1. Establish the ground game
As I said earlier this week, Rutgers has the Big East’s best defense. However, they have the worst rushing defense in the conference. James White is healthy again after injuring his shoulder against Oklahoma State. He played early the following week but was involved with two bad exchanges between him and Barnett, and was eventually benched.
I expect the Clones to run the ball more than usual. Rutgers’ secondary has two All-Big East performers. Also, Jared Barnett will be under pressure as Rutgers likes to blitz on the first two downs.
The Clones can find a lof of success running the ball. If they do, they’ll win the game.
2. Take care of the ball and force turnovers
This should be a key for every game but it is even more important in the Pinstripe Bowl. Iowa State had troubles taking care of the ball throughout the year. They cannot afford to beat themselves in a bowl game. Like Iowa State, Rutgers has been their own worst enemy. The Scarlet Knights led the Big East in turnovers with 28 total turnovers the whole year. I have a feeling that whoever wins the turnover battle, will likely be the 2011 Pinstripe Bowl champions.
3. Shut down Mohamed Sanu
As you know by now, Rutgers has an All-American caliber receiver in Mohamed Sanu. Sanu is without a doubt Rutgers’ best offensive weapon and overall player. Sanu racked up an amazing 109 receptions this year which is almost half the amount of Rutgers’ total receptions. This is even more meaningful since Rutgers struggles running the ball and ranks last in the Big East in that category.
Iowa State’s lockdown cornerback, Leonard Johnson, will likely be going up against Sanu the whole game. Johnson will give up around 4 inches to Sanu. However, Cyclone fans shouldn’t worry much about Sanu having a career day against Iowa State. Leonard Johnson has limited many big time receivers including McNutt, Stills, Blackmon, and more.
Both Sanu and Johnson will be playing on Sundays in the future. This will be the most important matchup of the game. If Johnson can shut down Sanu and win the battle with him, the Clones will win the war.