Previewing Iowa’s second week matchup with Iowa State
Fresh off a 45-21 win over Miami (OH), the Iowa Hawkeyes have one of their biggest games of the season in week two. It’s not against a top-25 team, rather a team that fell to Northern Iowa 25-20 a week ago. Iowa’s biggest rival, the Iowa State Cyclones, are in town and Iowa City is rocking with anticipation for tonight’s game.
The Hawkeyes and Cyclones will kickoff at 6:30PM CT tonight at Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes enter the game as the 16th best team in the AP Poll, and a solid 31-17 win over Iowa State in Ames last year. Despite the 14-point win, Iowa wasn’t able to pull away until the end. The Hawkeyes were clearly the better team, and have been in most of the recent years, but rivalries are fun because anything is possible.
That has been proven over the last couple of years. The last team in this series to win in back-to-back years was Iowa State when they won in 2011 and 2012. Since then, the Hawkeyes and Cyclones have flipped-flopped, with Iowa State winning the last two times they came to Iowa City.
Despite anything being possible in rivalries, Iowa should be feeling very confident. Their offense was clicking last week and has a chance to be even better with another week of practice under their belt.
In week one, Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels Jr combined to rush for 204 yards and four touchdowns, including Wadley averaging 10.1 yards per carry. The Hawkeyes will rely on their run game again, and if they’re able to establish it early then the Cyclones’ defense could be in for a long night.
It helped open up the field for quarterback C.J. Beathard. Even though the Hawkeyes prefer to run the ball, it’s important for them to let Beathard air it out at times to keep the defense honest.
For the Cyclones, they only managed 20 points against Northern Iowa, which shouldn’t give them a ton of confidence heading into week two against a stifling Iowa defense. Joel Lanning threw two interceptions and mostly relied on Allen Lazard. Relying too heavily on one receiver doesn’t work against Iowa, and could lead to a couple of more interceptions for the sophomore quarterback.
The Hawkeyes need cornerback Greg Mabin to have a bounce back week, though. Miami (OH) picked on Mabin in week one as he was clearly the weak spot in the Hawkeyes secondary. Despite Lanning not being a terrific quarterback, it’s important for Mabin to have a bounce back game from a confidence stand point, as well as showing other teams that they can’t pick on him.
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If he continues to struggle, Kirk Ferentz may have to look at other options because teams will continue to throw towards Mabin. Josey Jewell returning to the lineup should help the defense as a whole. He adds another solid pass rusher, which will in turn help the secondary, as well.
Any night game at Kinnick Stadium is worth watching. With Iowa looking to extend their 13 game regular season winning streak against their biggest rival, the crowd should be loud and a factor all game. There are a lot of Cyclones’ fans in Iowa City this weekend, but the Hawkeyes faithful should have no problem making more noise and causing problems for the Cyclones offense.
ESPN may give Iowa an 89 percent chance to win, and the Hawkeyes may be a 15-point favorite, but anything can happen in a rivalry game.
We have already witnessed an upset today and many close games against small schools for top-25 teams. If the Hawkeyes aren’t careful then Iowa State could come in and ruin any hopes for Iowa’s season. It’s an underwhelming week following the great week one college football had, but that’s when good teams get caught off guard.