The comments from Barr and Vandervelde stand out as aberrations. Most often compliments (usually exaggerated) for the opponent fill the air during rivalry week. This year is void of bulletin board material from the enemy.
That's OK. The teams are competitive. That's the most important component in this thing.
The Hawkeyes are favored by less than a touchdown. That's a low number in this series during the Ferentz Era and it's because of the home field for the most part.
"We have a big job on our hands," the coach said.
Ferentz would say that if the Cyclones were in shambles. This year, he's spot on.
The Hawkeyes and Iowa State came into '12 looking like teams that would be led by their offenses. The Cyclones lived up to that in a 38-23 win against Tulsa during Saturday's opener in Ames. Iowa needed a touchdown in the closing minutes to escape Chicago with an 18-17 victory against Northern Illinois on that day.
"Well, they are veteran and they are extremely productive," Ferentz said. "They play extremely hard and don't come off the field."
Iowa players. coaches and fans are expecting their offense to click this week. Truth is that it's a new coordinator and it was a shaky debut.
That said, Iowa will perform better defensively against Cyclone QB Steele Jantz than it did in a triple-overtime loss in Ames a year ago. It has to improve. Last year was a disaster.
It doesn't make a whole lot of sense comparing statistics in this match-up. They don't say much after one game.
So, in that sense, it's understandable that a lot of on-lookers feel like Iowa State can pull off the mild upset on Saturday. Based off of last week, the Cyclones have a better looking short resume.
While a lot of attention was focused on the shortcomings of the Hawkeye offense, the defense and special teams, for the most part, did well. History shows that those two phases have been important more often than not during the last 15 years of the series.
Even though last year's game saw a total of 85 points, only 48 of those were scored in regulation. There's a tendency for the coaches to play conservatively in the rivalry game. That's likely again this year as both teams still are learning about plenty of young and inexperienced players that are contributing.
Put me in the camp with the people that aren't weighing heavily the teams' performances in Week 1. It's too early to tell the difference between NIU and Tulsa and the programs will dig deeper into the playbacks this week.
Iowa has more room for improvement. The Hawkeyes and quarterback James Vandenberg perform well in Kinnick and not always away from the friendly confines of the historic stadium.
Call me a homer. I've been called worse.
Iowa 23, Iowa State 20