Iowa vs. Iowa State: Final thoughts and a prediction
There’s no such thing as a “gimme” in a rivalry game, and both the Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones know that well. The CyHawk rivalry is one of the best in sports, and no matter the record, either side has to feel good about its chances of walking away with a win.
That’s just how this rivalry works, as most do. Throw away the records (both teams are 1-0). Throw away last week. Play ball, and let’s see what happens.
The throwing away of last week should be particularly appealing for the Hawkeyes, at least offensively. Iowa won its season opener against South Dakota State by a very Iowa-esque score, 7-3. Iowa’s defense, led by linebacker Jack Campbell, put more points up on the board via 2 safeties than Iowa’s offense was able to muster against the Jackrabbits.
On one hand, it was an elite showing by the Hawkeyes on defense. On the other, that’s not how a “revamped” offense should look like against a team from the Missouri Valley Conference.
Still, if we’re looking on the bright side: Iowa’s defense looks as good as usual and the Hawkeyes are 1-0. They could have gone the way of the Virginia Tech Hokies, who lost to Old Dominion in their Week 1 “tune-up.”
There’s also something about playing this rival that could end up sparking the Hawkeyes on both sides of the ball. They’ll be looking to extend their series dominance (46-22 going in) with a 7th straight win over the Cyclones.
Keys to an Iowa win
Score a dang touchdown, quickly
Let’s keep it simple, here. You can’t beat a rival without scoring a touchdown. Sure, it would be very Iowa for that to happen 2 weeks in a row, but there’s little chance the Hawkeyes get out of this thing with a win if they can’t put the football into the end zone.
Run it. Throw it. Who cares? Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz and his staff need to find a way to scheme a touchdown early in the ballgame. Any significant offensive struggles early in this contest could lead to anxiety on behalf of the Iowa faithful. They may not boo this time with the Cyclones on the other sideline, but Kirk Ferentz’s team has to do everything it can to keep all the positive juju in the air at Kinnick this Saturday afternoon.
Iowa’s defense needs to use the crowd to its advantage
For as much flak as the Hawkeyes took in Week 1, it is worth noting that we did see something special. Sure, it came against SDSU, but Iowa’s defense was absolutely special against the Jackrabbits.
One safety in a game is rare enough in today’s offense-happy game, but 2? That’s almost unheard of.
The Hawkeyes have one heck of a defense and there are few places more intimidating for an opposing offense than Kinnick when the defense has a team backed up into the shadow of its own goal post.
It’s a special environment and Iowa proved last weekend that it can tap into that down near the goal line and make the opponent’s offense pay. Maybe we won’t see another safety, but if Iowa can lean on the crowd and get ISU’s offense trembling — good things will happen again.
Don’t be afraid to unleash Tory Taylor
Kirk Ferentz isn’t one to be swayed by opinions or trends, which is good because he should not be afraid to utilize his amazing punter, Tory Taylor, once again this weekend.
If the offense comes up short once again, Ferentz needs to stay patient and realize that he has a heck of a weapon at his disposal in Taylor.
The Hawkeyes may feel an overwhelming need to jump-start the offense and take a few chances if a 4th-and-manageable comes up, but little details like field position matter in rivalry games, and the Hawks have a huge advantage in the Australian kicker.
The Hawkeyes asked Taylor to punt 10 times against NDSU and he rewarded them with punts downed at the 1, 2, 6, 8 (twice) and 12-yard lines of his opponents. He totaled 479 yards of punt yardage, which was more than double what Iowa’s offense put together all game (166 yards).
Taylor is a weapon for Iowa and Ferentz told the world he wasn’t afraid to use him against North Dakota State. That needs to be true in this rivalry game again if need be.
I like Iowa’s defense to once again be stout in this one, but I also do expect the offense will at least get into the end zone once. Let’s make it twice.
Iowa 17, Iowa State 10