Three Days and Counting... continues its day-by-day preview of Saturday's Iowa (4-2/2-1) vs. Indiana (4-1/1-1) matchup in Iowa City. Today, we look at three big concerns for the Hoosiers when they travel to Iowa City for the 11 a.m. contest at Kinnick Stadium.

IA QB Drew Tate getting on a role early - The Iowa offense goes as Drew Tate throws, so the last thing the Indiana defense wants to see is the standout quarterback get off to a quick start on Saturday.

That's what happened the last two weeks in wins over Illinois and Purdue. Two weeks ago against Illinois, Tate was 5-6 for 64 yards in the first quarter, leading the Hawkeyes to a 14-0 lead. Last week against Purdue, Tate was 7-of-9 for a staggering 188 yards and two touchdowns, helping Coach Kirk Ferentz's team to a 17-7 lead at the end of the first period. Those numbers certainly compare favorably to Tate's first-quarter numbers in Iowa's two losses – 5-of-8 for 17 yards vs. Ohio State; 3-6 for 21 yards vs. Iowa State. The Hawkeyes found themselves in first-quarter holes in both of those contests and couldn't recover.

Of course, slowing down Tate is easier said than done. Purdue tried to drop seven or eight defenders into coverage to try to confuse the junior quarterback, but with little success. The best way to slow Tate is probably with pressure, although he's also adept at sensing pressure and either buying himself more time by moving around in the pocket or tucking the ball and turning negative plays into positive ones.

Recognizing and Combating Iowa's Zone Coverage: Hoosier sophomore QB Blake Powers has been among the nation's most productive quarterbacks with 18 touchdowns through five games, but he'll be put to the test by the Iowa secondary this weekend.

Iowa's defense will play primarily zone coverage on Saturday, so it will be up to Powers to be extremely sharp, recognizing linebackers dropping back into pass coverage and into his passing lanes. The onus will also be on Indiana's young wide receivers to be disciplined in their route running. Making cuts at precise depths will be imperative as Powers looks to find the gaps and seams in the Hawkeye defense.

If Powers can do that, Indiana's passing attack has a chance to be successful Saturday. Hawkeye opponents are completely better than 63 percent of their throws this season for nearly 220 yards per contest, and the Hawkeyes have recorded only four interceptions in six games. But it will be a different look for Powers than what he's been dealing with for much of his first season as a starting quarterback.

Penalties/Turnovers: Indiana has ventured on the road twice this season and has been plagued by penalties in both contests. The Hoosiers had 10 penalties for 77 yards in the opener at Central Michigan, followed by a season-high 12 penalties for 78 yards in its 41-24 loss at Wisconsin. The results have been somewhat better at home as Indiana has averaged four less penalties per game for nearly 20 less yards per contest at Memorial Stadium.

Those miscues, though, haven't necessarily been as a result of crowd noise. At Wisconsin the Hoosiers only had one false start penalty that was caused by noise. But the bottom line is Indiana can't afford to have positive plays nullified by ill-timed penalties, and it certainly can't afford to keep Hawkeye drives alive with untimely penalties on the defensive side. While the Hoosiers are certainly much improved from where they were a year ago, the team's margin for error for producing a win on the road in a hostile environment like Iowa City is still small.

The Hoosiers can't expect the Hawkeyes to do them many favors, either, with penalties. Iowa ranks first nationally in fewest penalties (17) and penalty yards (132) by a wide margin.

The same goes for turnovers. Indiana's four miscues in Madison spoiled any chance of an upset, and similar numbers in Iowa City will result in a similar disappointing result. Not only have IU's miscues cost it opportunities to put much needed points on the board, but the team's 11 turnovers have resulted in five touchdowns and one field goal for foes.

Indiana needs to play mistake-free football to give itself a chance to bring an end to Iowa's 21-game home winning streak.

What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Key Matchups
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Things IU Must Do to Win
On Friday – One Bold Prediction
On Saturday – Hoosier Gameday Top Stories