By Brendan Stiles
To get you all ready for Saturday’s game between Iowa and Iowa State, I put together a list of things you ought to know before these two face off at Jack Trice Stadium.
At the end, I’ll provide what I think are three keys to an Iowa victory.
Iowa Hawkeyes (1-1) at Iowa State Cyclones (0-1)
Jack Trice Stadium; Ames, Iowa
Sept. 14, 2013
5 p.m. Central
TV: Fox Sports 1 (Justin Kutcher, James Bates, Brady Poppinga)
Radio: Hawkeye Radio Network (Gary Dolphin, Ed Podolak, Rob Brooks)
Brendan’s Three Keys to the Game:
1. Be a little more aggressive than usual
I have a feeling Iowa’s play-calling will be a bit more aggressive than usual in this game given the enormity of it as it pertains to the rest of the Hawkeyes’ season. This isn’t to say Kirk Ferentz, Greg Davis and Phil Parker will all be out of character on Saturday, but I could see more shots downfield on offense, a little more blitzing than usual on defense and maybe decisions to go for it on 4th-and-short if such a situation presents itself. These guys all know what’s at stake when you look beyond the rivalry aspect of things. Or at least they should know.
2. Be alert on special teams
Think back to 2009, the last time Iowa came out of Jack Trice Stadium with a victory. Iowa State actually took a 3-0 lead early in that game and the Cyclones attempted an onside kick on that ensuing kickoff. The Hawkeyes recovered the onside kick, proceeded to take advantage of the short field by scoring a touchdown to go ahead 7-3 and didn’t look back the rest of the afternoon. Paul Rhoads has developed a reputation for pulling out onside kicks when opposing teams least expect it and this is something Iowa will have to be on guard for Saturday night. Especially when you consider the Cyclones having a bye week to work a little more than usual on special teams.
3. Dominate the middle 30 minutes
This game boils down to how Iowa handles the second and third quarters of this game because this is the time frame I believe the opportunities for the Hawkeyes to blow this game open will present themselves. Given the late start and being at home, it shouldn’t be a surprise if Iowa State grabs an early lead. What Iowa has to avoid is falling behind double-digits out of the gate. If it’s even 7-0, not the end of the world. I also think the fourth quarter is when the Cyclones will re-garner momentum, especially if the game’s one-possession at that point.
So to me, it comes down to the second quarter when the Hawkeyes will likely counter after taking the first blow, and the third quarter after Iowa likely has a halftime lead and gets a chance to go for the jugular following some halftime adjustments. Think back to the Northern Illinois game when Iowa overcame a 10-0 deficit to dominate the second quarter and possess a 24-17 halftime lead. The Hawkeyes were flat coming out of halftime, allowed the Huskies to hang around and it eventually cost them. Playing against an Iowa State team that on paper it should be, I don’t foresee Iowa making this same mistake again on Saturday. Because if it does, it’s begging to lose. If they capitalize this time around however, the Hawkeyes should be able to leave Ames 2-1.