Breaking it down: Iowa looking to match 2009 start
Who: North Texas vs. Iowa
When: 2:30 p.m. CT
Where: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa
Spread: Iowa -24.5
Matchup to watch: Carlos Harris vs. Desmond King
It feels like every week I’m talking about the Iowa secondary with a key matchup. Against Tyler Boyd, King stole the show early. Boyd did get his yards in the second half, but King turned the field to halt critical scoring drives with his two interceptions. He has to do the same thing against Harris. It’ll be a different game plan than the physicality King had to do deal with last week. The 5-8 Harris likes to work the underneath routes and can bust loose if he isn’t accounted for at all times. He already has a 93-yard touchdown to speak of, which would suggest Iowa won’t be running a whole lot of zone to cover the Mean Green speedster.
Thing I’m excited for: More C.J. Beathard freestyling
It’s almost more fun to watch Beathard when the play breaks down than when he hits his first read. I realize I’m not speaking on behalf of Iowa fans by saying that. For the rest of us, it’s good ole fashion entertainment. He’s becoming one of the conference’s best scrambling quarterbacks in the Big Ten in a hurry. Beathard isn’t necessarily a guy that’s going to jump out on the box score, so those who haven’t had a chance to watch him improvise, they might not get the appeal. Beathard should get time against a weak North Texas pass rush, but there should still be plenty of highlight reel plays.
Number to remember: 2009
That should be the favorite number of Iowa fans. The last time the Hawkeyes started off 4-0 was that Orange Bowl season. In a game where Iowa should roll, it might just appear to be another ho-hum non-conference victory. And I’m not saying that people should all of the sudden expect a 2009 run, but in a West Division that’s loaded with questions, a 4-0 Iowa team has as good a shot as anyone to make a run.
Prediction: Iowa 35, North Texas 7
The Hawkeyes still might not have Drew Ott or LeShun Daniels at full strength. That shouldn’t matter on Saturday. If that was going to result in a letdown, it would’ve been against Pitt. This might not be as dominant a defensive showing as the Illinois State game — two garbage time touchdowns made that one look closer than it was — but the outcome will never be in question. A breakout game for Tevaun Smith leads Iowa to a comfortable victory and even better, a clean non-conference slate.