Forget what Hawkeye fans try to say. All the fans, all the players, and all the coaches care about this game. Iowa State (0-2) has evolved from just being a thorn on the Iowa (2-0) schedule and has now become a prominent opponent every year. Pardon the cliché, but you really can forget about preseason expectations coming into this game — the winner of the Cy-Hawk trophy in football always kicks off the athletic calendar with a smile.
Iowa State Cyclones vs Iowa Hawkeyes
Kinnick Stadium | Iowa City, Iowa
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Kickoff – 2:30 PM CT | TV: ESPN | Web: WatchESPN
- Iowa State depth chart
- Five players to watch
- Weather report
- Betting updates
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- Get to know the Hawkeyes: Offense | Defense | Special Teams
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Iowa had a lot of expectations coming into the year. Being a favorite in the newly organized Big Ten West Division, they’re going to have to start playing better on both sides of the ball to keep the dream of being in a conference championship game.
The traditional Kirk Ferentz team is in tact with strong line play on offense and defense, but the offense has gone away from pounding the ball on the ground to set up their passing attack. They’ve actually been throwing it early and often. Quarterback Jake Rudock already has 93 pass attempts — 52 in the come from behind win over Ball State. In comparison, he had just 23 attempts in last year’s game against Iowa State.
That’s because they had a bulldozer in running back Mark Weisman, but the team is looking to take the heavy load off of him this year with their stable of running of backs. None of them have really stood out, but they haven’t had a ton of chances just yet.
What to watch for
There’s two key injures the Hawkeyes have dealt with this week in the trenches — offensive left tackle Brandon Scherff and defensive right end Drew Ott. Ferentz said that Scherff is day-to-day despite a report that said the senior lineman had knee surgery and will be out for 2-3 weeks. Ott suffered a scooter accident but is expected to play.
Luckily, the team has enough depth on the lines to fill in the holes, but those are significant losses in experience. Iowa State also has to exploit the linebacker corps that’s been completely overhauled and half the secondary has new starters. That means if the Cyclones want to win, they have to pass the ball successfully.
Of course, the Cyclones can’t just air it out 60 times in this game. We’ll see if they go with DeVondrick Nealy in the early going or in short yardage situations. He was very elusive in the first half against the Wildcats last week and was tough to bring down.
September 14, 2013; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback Jake Rudock (15) runs between Iowa State Cyclones defensive end Willie Scott (50) and Cory Morrissey (48) at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
Keys to the game
— Tom Farniok and company has to duplicate what happened against Kansas State. For anybody that didn’t know how big of difference Farniok makes on the offensive line, you saw it against the Wildcats. Sam Richardson had decent time to check down his receivers, find lanes to scramble when necessary, and both Nealy and Aaron Wimberly had opportunities to make plays.
— When momentum swings ISU’s way, they HAVE to capitalize. They won’t have the home crowd behind them, but they were able to capitalize on keeping KSU to just a 13-0 lead when they could have been down 21-0 very early in the game. The Cyclones responded with 28 straight points. Anytime Iowa makes a mistake, gets stopped on a drive, or even is held for a field goal, ISU has to fuel that into a successful drive.
— Don’t coast in the second half. Iowa State has zero points in the second half after two games this season. The Cyclones have the talent to compete with a lot of teams this season. At some point, they have to learn to close games.
Heading into Kinnick with a late afternoon kickofff and being shown on an ESPN network definitely has bad vibes — the Cyclones got trucked four years ago in the same fashion. But there’s so many flaws with this Iowa team despite their 2-0 start, and with how they’ve looked so far this season, Iowa State could definitely come away with a win.
Both teams are dealing with tough injuries. The Cyclones have an edge on special teams. They have weapons at receiver to make plays on the Iowa defense. If the offensive line holds up and Sam Richardson isn’t sent scrambling everywhere, they can win this game. I think it’ll happen thanks to a couple of missed Iowa field goals.
ISU 19, IOWA 14 (Odds: ISU +11.5 / U50)