IOWA: One Bold Prediction

Someone is going to get a much-needed win Saturday in Iowa City. Will it be Iowa, which has dropped two straight and six straight Big Ten games dating back to last season? Or will it be Indiana, which upset the Hawkeyes in Bloomington a year ago? HoosierNation.com makes its pick...

Bloomington, Ind. – Someone is getting well Saturday in Iowa City.

When Indiana (3-1) meets Iowa (2-2) at Noon in Kinnick Stadium both teams are looking for a win that could erase some recent disappointment. Iowa is hoping to end a two-game losing streak along with a six-game Big Ten skid that dates back to last season. Indiana's problems aren't quite as prolonged, but last week's 27-14 loss at home to Illinois was as a red flag to many, suggesting the program's 13-year bowl drought might not be coming to an end after all.

Whether you're a fan of the Cream and Crimson or the Gold and Black, it's obvious this game serves as a crossroads of sorts for the remainder of the season.

"It's going to be a heck of a challenge for our football team – one, getting off the mat, and then secondly, having to prepare for a very, very good football team," Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said.

Indiana beat the Hawkeyes a year ago in Bloomington and played them tough in 2005 in Iowa City, trailing 24-21 at the start of the fourth quarter before eventually falling 38-21. So Coach Bill Lynch's team has some success to build on when this contest kicks off.

"I do think from our standpoint with our kids, they do know that they have played against these guys before," Lynch said. "It is not like the first time or like a non-conference game. I think that is the nice thing about conference play is the players get a familiarity with who they are playing against."

Indiana's players will be playing against a defense that is undoubtedly the best unit they've gone up against this season. Iowa didn't surrender a touchdown in its first three games and is yielding only 8.8 points/game. The Hawkeye defense doesn't surrender many big plays, which presents a problem for an IU offense that turned the ball over four times a week ago against Illinois, which halted a couple of otherwise sustained drives.

Iowa has struggled offensively, but it does have a couple of talented tailbacks in Albert Young and Damian Sims. Considering Indiana's defense surrendered nearly 300 yards on the ground a week ago to Illinois, IU's coaches have to be concerned about whether or not they can take away what Iowa does best.

Will they? Can Indiana top Iowa for a second straight season?

If Indiana is going to have a chance, it's going to need to do a couple of things. First of all, it can't lose the turnover battle. Scoring chances won't be as plentiful as they've been in the season's first month, and squandering them with turnovers would be crippling. Secondly, IU can't give up big plays in the passing game. It stands to reason that IU will commit eight to stopping Iowa's ground attack – and be fairly successful at doing it. But it will then be counting on senior corners Tracy Porter and Leslie Majors to hold up in man-to-man coverage.

Ultimately, I see Iowa pulling this one out. Iowa is outstanding on defense and better on offense than recent results would suggest. Indiana's challenge will be to give itself a chance going into the fourth quarter. If Lynch's team can do that, it will recoup some much-needed confidence for next week's home game against Minnesota and the following week's match-up at Michigan State, a pair of very winnable games.

HoosierNation.com's pick: Iowa 23, Indiana 16

What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Players to Know
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Key Match-Ups
On Friday – One Bold Prediction

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