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Iowa vs. Pittsburgh (What to expect)

Posted on 16. Sep, 2011 by in Iowa Football

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By Brendan Stiles

HawkeyeDrive.com

To get you all ready for Saturday’s game between Iowa and Pittsburgh, I put together a list of things you ought to know before heading to Kinnick Stadium.

At the end, I’ll provide what I think are three keys to an Iowa victory.

Iowa Hawkeyes (1-1) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (2-0)

Kinnick Stadium; Iowa City, Iowa

Sept. 17, 2011

11 a.m. Central

TV: ESPN2 (Beth Mowins, Mike Bellotti)

Radio: Hawkeye Radio Network (Gary Dolphin, Ed Podolak, Rob Brooks)

Weather: 59 degrees

Brendan’s Three Keys to the Game:

1. Keeping contain

This one should go without saying after the issues Iowa had against Steele Jantz and Iowa State last week in Ames. The good news for the Hawkeyes here is that Pittsburgh quarterback Tino Sunseri isn’t as mobile as either of the QBs they have already faced, nor is he going to be looking to run as much with a quality running back like Ray Graham in the Panther backfield. If Iowa can create any sort of pressure on Sunseri, the defense will have opportunities to create turnovers on Saturday.

2. Keeping Ray Graham at bay

Iowa has already allowed opposing running backs to rush for 100-plus yards in consecutive games and now has the challenge of keeping the nation’s leading rusher in check. Graham comes into this contest with 322 yards on the ground through two games this season. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if he winds up over 100 yards rushing Saturday, but the Hawkeyes can’t afford for him to have any runs of 15-plus yards, or it could be a long afternoon.

3. “Big Game James”

Much like Marcus Coker last week, this game is a huge opportunity for James Vandenberg. The junior quarterback is coming off a 207-yard passing performance against Iowa State where he completed 16-of-28 passes. Not bad numbers, but as it turned out, not good enough to win. The most glaring difference between these two teams is the stability at QB, and Vandenberg has the decisive edge here over Sunseri. With that in mind, this is a golden opportunity for Vandenberg to completely step out of Ricky Stanzi’s shadow (if he hasn’t already done so) and show he is in complete command of the Iowa offense. If he does that Saturday, then the Hawkeyes should be able to bounce back and win this game, even if it becomes a high-scoring affair like last week was.

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