Fred Russell is likely to break 100 yards (possibly in the first half). I would like to see more from Marcus Schnoor and A.J. Johnson against Buffalo than we saw in the opener.
This is the only "easy" game on the Hawkeye schedule, so it would be nice if the starters could take care of business in the first 35 to 40 minutes ... and then allow the second unit to get some playing time and experience.
Buffalo gave up 181 yards rushing in its opener against Rutgers. Rutgers was 1-11 last season. Rutgers is not very good this year. Rutgers beat the Bulls 24-10. Advantage: IOWA.
Iowa pass offense vs. Buffalo pass defense: I doubt we'll see much of Iowa's playbook against the Bulls and the passing attack will probably look as "vanilla" as Al Lorenzen. However, I expect Nathan Chandler to turn in another solid performance, which will be good for his confidence heading into the Iowa State game next weekend.
I hope that Ed Hinkel gets involved in the offense a little bit against Buffalo, as he was invisible against Miami.
It would be nice if Iowa could get out to a big lead, allowing the backup QBs — Drew Tate and Jason Manson — to get a little experience.
Buffalo gave up 229 yards passing to Rutgers last Saturday. Advantage: IOWA.
Buffalo run offense vs. Iowa run defense: The Bulls ran for 217 yards and averaged 5.4 yards per carry in their opener. Dave Dawson gained 122 yards on 14 carries and Aaron Leeper totaled 54 yards on 15 attempts. Very good production from the Buffalo tailbacks.
The Hawkeyes held Miami to 54 yards rushing on 29 carries, for a 1.9-yard average. Iowa will be without its heavy-hitting safety Bob Sanders, but I look for Abdul Hodge and Chad Greenway to make plenty of noise for the Hawks' defense. Advantage: IOWA.
Buffalo pass offense vs. Iowa pass defense: Buffalo completed 7-of-21 passes for 58 yards against Rutgers last week. Uh ... not good, my friends. Matt Roth has already recorded three sacks in Saturday's game, I think. Roth, Jonathan Babineaux, Jared Clauss and Howard Hodges will be chasing Randall Secky all over the field when the Bulls try to throw the ball.
I expect the Hawkeyes to create four turnovers against Buffalo and return one of them for a score. Advantage: IOWA (Big Time).
Special Teams: For Buffalo, Michael Baker made a 30-yard field goal last week and Dominic Milano averaged 40.1 yards per punt. On the other sideline, Iowa has an All-American kicker in Nate Kaeding and the Big Ten's Special Teams Player of the Week in punter David Bradley.
The Hawks' special teams are among the best in the nation. However, the Bulls' punt team might get enough experience this season to really improve quite a bit. Advantage: IOWA.
Coaching: Kirk Ferentz was the AP Coach of the Year in 2002. Despite the overwhelming amount of information that shows the Hawks should crush the Bulls, I expect that Coach Ferentz will have his team focused and ready to play.
Buffalo's head coach is Jim Hofher, who is 4-20 as the Bulls' head coach. Buffalo is riding an 11-game losing streak. Advantage: IOWA.
Intangibles: The injury to Bob Sanders, who may be lost for the season, might have the Hawkeye defense fired up to make plenty of big hits in his absence. This is the only game on Iowa's schedule in which it will be heavily favored. One thing that concerns me in games like this is suffering injuries to starters, who may be on the field in the second half of a 45-point rout. With Sanders, Jermelle Lewis and Albert Young injured, Iowa is learning how to adjust in a way it never really had to last season. Advantage: IOWA.
PREDICTION: I would love to see the Hawkeyes' offensive line continue to improve in this game and I expect Iowa to dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Russell will have another big day (100+ yards) and we should get a decent look at Schnoor and Johnson out of the backfield. There should be very little pressure on Chandler all day. The senior QB should finish with numbers like 8-of-11 for 94 yards and one TD. If the Hawks can take care of business early, it would be nice if Tate could run the offense for most of the third quarter and Manson could take over in the fourth. The big key for Iowa might be to stay healthy with the Iowa State game only a week away. Buffalo is simply not very good. FINAL: IOWA 45, Buffalo 13.
(Marty Gallagher founded the popular Web site IowaSportsOpinions.com. You can e-mail him at Marty@IowaSportsOpinions.com.)