Quarterback Ricky Stanzi doesn't get the publicity that many other get throughout the country but all he does is just win football games. Last week in the Hawkeyes easy 37-17 victory over Eastern Illinois, Stanzi was very efficient completing 18 of 23 passes for 229 yards and one touchdown and no interceptions. The Iowa State defense needs to make sure Stanzi doesn't have a repeat performance of last season's game when he threw for a career-high four touchdowns.
The Iowa running game should be a dual effort on Saturday. Starting will be Adam Robinson, who rushed the ball 24 times for 109 yards and a career high three touchdowns last week, and also seeing time will be Jewel Hampton who makes his return to the Hawkeyes lineup after missing all of the 2009 season.
The Hawkeyes have many weapons in the passing game. Colin Sandeman led the receivers against Eastern Illinois with 4 catches for 59 yards. The other three main targets at wide receiver are Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, Keenan Davis, and Marvin McNutt.
At tight end, the Hawkeyes had to replace All-Big 10 player Tony Moeaki and that did not seem to be a problem against Eastern Illinoisas three tight ends (led by junior Brad Herman's 3 catches for 57 yards) combined for 8 receptions for 113 yards and one touchdown.
The Hawkeyes only return the left side of their offensive line in tackle Riley Reiff and guard Julian Vanderveld. The new center this season is James Ferentz who is the son of head coach Kirk Ferentz. The right side has two new starters in guard Nolan MacMillan and tackle Markus Zusevics.
Iowa on defense:
The defensive line returns everyone and is very solid but they were exposed somewhat in 2009 by allowing 124 rushing yards per game. They are led by first team All-Big 10 defensive end Adrian Clayborn who had 11.5 sacks last season. The other defensive end, Broderick Binns, makes his 2010 debut after being suspended for the Eastern Illinois game. Seniors Karl Klug and Christian Ballard start at defensive tackle.
The linebacking corps lost two standouts in Pat Angerer and A.J. Edds. Taking their place are Tyler Nielsen and Bruce Davis, who will start along with the lone returning starter who is weakside linebacker Jeremiha Hunter.
Iowa boasts one of the best safety combinations in the country with the return of First Team All-Big 10 strong safety Tyler Sash and Second Team All-Big 10 free safety Brett Greenwood. The two combined for five interceptions last season against Iowa State with Sash tying a school record with three. The Hawkeyes are far less experienced at cornerback where they start sophomores Micah Hyde and Greg Castillo.
The Cyclones could break a very long streak on Saturday as they have lost 36 straight road games against ranked opponents with the last one coming on October 20, 1990 when they defeated No.16 ranked Oklahoma 33-31.
The No.9 ranked Hawkeyes once again are very strong defensively so Iowa State quarterback Austen Arnaud can't afford a repeat performance of last year's game if the Cyclones expect to challenge the Hawkeyes in Iowa City. The Cyclones haven't scored a touchdown against Iowa's defense since 2006 so if they want any chance of winning they need to end that streak and preferably do it in the first quarter.
The Cyclones led by Alexander Robinson need to run the ball successfully and control time of possession. However, if they expect to win, Arnaud will have to make huge plays both in the air and on the ground. He must keep the Hawkeyes defense off balance and it will likely mean turning some broken plays into first down.
The Cyclones defense returns safety David Sims who was suspended for their opening victory over Northern Illinois. He was the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and led the Cyclones last year with five interceptions. This will be the first major test for Iowa State's inexperienced linebacker unit and they will need to step up and help especially with stopping the run if the Cyclones are to have a chance of defeating Iowa. Overall, there are too many question marks with the Cyclones to predict an Iowa State road victory but if they can play turnover-free football and control time of possession they will definitely have a chance to spring the upset.
CSR Game Prediction: Iowa 31 Iowa State 20