Preview: Iowa v Iowa State

After last week's scrimmage against Ball State, the Hawkeyes will get their first test of the 2005 season when they travel to Ames to take on the Cyclones. The weather forecast for this one as of 10:30pm on Thursday night calls for partly cloudy skies, temps near 90 degrees at kickoff time and winds around 20 miles per hour. What else would you expect in Iowa's Wind Tunnel that is Jack Trice Stadium? Those aspects will factor into this game, in addition to several others.


It has been said throughout the spring and summer by a lot of pundits on both sides of this fence that Iowa and Iowa State might not be so far apart from man one to twenty-two, meaning the starters.

Debate that amongst yourselves of course, but each team has strengths over the other in certain areas.

What is not up for debate is that beyond man 22, Iowa has the advantage.

When it's going to be that hot, you need fresh bodies, specifically on the lines of scrimmage.

Iowa is going to play a lot of men along the defensive line this week, you can count on that. Iowa's State's front four of Moorehead, Leaders, Curvey and Berryman is very good and you could probably add Cephus Johnson to that list. They will give Iowa's offensive line fits in this game.

But beyond that, they are relatively thin and or untested. Remember Iowa's fearsome front four in the 4th quarter of the Cap One Bowl last year? They were sucking wind and were dead tired. Subsequently, LSU put together two strong drives against the Hawkeyes in the final session, something that nearly cost Iowa the game.

In speaking with Ken Iwebema at media day this year, he felt that Iowa's six to eight man defensive line rotation would be a benefit this year, and he underscored just how tired Iowa's front four was against LSU, Minnesota and some other teams last year.

Though Iowa's defensive line is not as talented as Iowa State's (yet), the depth could become interesting in the third and fourth quarters on Saturday.

Look for Iowa to unleash ‘The Jackhammer', Shonn Greene late in this game and look for him to rip up chunks of Cyclone in the process. With the wind expected to howl, you might get to see some November football (grind it out late) in early September.

Just hope that Iowa's offensive line doesn't get too weary early on in this one…but if they are on the field a lot, that will be a good thing.


As in special teams.

Iowa State missed 10 field goals last year as well as missing one last week in their opener. Iowa has missed nine field goals in three full seasons plus one game.

Tony Yelk came in last week and took over the place kicking duties after another player missed the early chip shot, and Brent Culbertson was held out of the Illinois State game due to injury.

Yelk has not necessarily been Mr. Automatic in his career, though he has a HUGE leg on kickoffs.

Punter Troy Blankenship, a Cedar Rapids native, had a stellar game last week, averaging 46 yards on five kicks.

Iowa's Kyle Schlicher is among the best field goal kickers in the nation, hitting 21 of 26 last season and tying Iowa's record for most field goals made in a season and breaking the single game mark when he went five for five against Minnesota.

He has a strong leg, too, and was perfect on his eight PAT attempts last week against Ball State. He did not attempt a field goal.

Here is where we may separate the wheat from the chaff, as Iowa's punting game is not solidified. Andy Fenstermaker and John Gallery each had a nice punt last week, but that was in a scrimmage-like setting. This week, Iowa will attempt at least five punts and the wind could be a factor.

I feel that Iowa's kickoff return game is going to be much improved this year, and it appears that their kick coverage unit could make a jump up the rankings from their 48th standing one year ago. This had been an excellent unit for Iowa prior to last season. It wasn't horrible last year, just not up to the standards that Iowa fans have come to enjoy.

Iowa yielded fewer than 14 yards per return last week, a number that ranks fourth in the nation. Iowa State's unit ranks 11th in the nation after last week.

Iowa State averaged less than 17 yards per return last week, a mark that puts them near 80th nationally. Iowa had just the one return that went for 34 yards.


When analyzing this game on offense for both teams, I think each program could employ a ‘spread ‘em out' approach to negate the strengths of the opposing defense.

I think Iowa could certainly do this to slow down Iowa State's typical ‘bring the house' defense that the Cyclones have employed in this game and create some mismatches with a receiver or tight end lined up against a linebacker.

Iowa State might want to try this, too, but Iowa's linebackers have a lot more speed than does Iowa State's trio.

Both teams have tight ends that can make you pay, its just that Iowa has more of them.

ISU's Walter Nickel was a Juco All American last year and he looked good against Illinois State last week. Ben Barkema is a capable player, just not the offensive weapon that Nickel can be.

Iowa has three tight ends that can make you pay in Scott Chandler, Brandon Meyers and Tony Moeaki. Ryan Majerus is also a capable player, just not as dangerous in the passing game.

Both teams are very deep at receiver, with Iowa State having several pass catchers over 6-feet tall. Austin Flynn will remind you a lot of Ed Hinkel, and in Clinton Solomon and Todd Blythe, both teams have dangerous deep threats.

Iowa State may try to stop Iowa's running attack with its front four, something that Iowa has done to teams in recent years with a great deal of success. If they have to commit a few more men to stop Iowa's run, Drew Tate could have a big day. If not, the Hawks might have to spread the field with multiple receiver sets.


This will be the biggest game that most of the Iowa State lineup will have ever been in. The majority of Iowa's players have been in bigger contests, but the young defensive linemen certainly have not.

The emotions should be running high to start the game, and if Iowa can withstand the usual early emotional high that the Cyclones seem to have coming out of the locker room, they will have passed the first test.

The team that has led at halftime has won 13 of the last 15 games in this series.


ROB HOWE'S TAKE: Since Kirk Ferentz took over in '99, four of the six games in this series have been decided by seven points or less. I'm expecting that to be five out of seven after Saturday. Thankfully, ABC noticed the draw of this rivalry and other folks around the country will see what we already know - This thing is a pretty big deal. The Hawkeyes' special teams provide the winning margin - Iowa 27, ISU 20. (LAST WEEK'S PICK: Iowa 56, Ball State 0)

BRIAN FINLEY'S TAKE: Is there anything that hasn't already been said about this game? Shrimps, gazelles, cardinals, Hawkeyes; what's left? Let's call Chad Greenway a rhino and Bret Meyer a lemur. I think that's about right, we'll find out how that match up looks on Saturday. The Hawkeyes reveal the other 94% of the playbook, Iowa State keeps it close in the first half, Iowa depth shows as Shonn Greene rips off a late 30 yard TD run, giving him his 2nd straight 100 yard game. Iowa 31 ISU 10 (LAST WEEK'S PICK: Iowa 51, Ball State 10. Random Fact: There has not been a shutout in the Iowa/Iowa State series since 1978 when Iowa lost 0-31 in Iowa City.

JASON MILLER'S TAKE: This is the game people have circled on the calendar as the beginning of "the season" for Iowa and Iowa State. The Cyclones rolled up the offense last week...against the "Cyclones" of Illinois State (a usually high ranked D-1AA team). Todd Blythe had another solid game (5 rec, 54 yds, TD), and their defense was salty toward the end of the game. That was then - this is now. Iowa may be the most experienced team that the Ames boys will face all season. Outside of the front four, the defense may also be the best it faces all season. Too much Greenway, Too much Hodge, too much Hawkeye. I like Albert Young to go for 100, and Drew to throw for 225/2-3 TD. Additionally, I think the special teams for Iowa scores a TD and blocks a punt. IOWA 31, IOWA STATE 14...18 of 23 is pretty darn good!

JON MILLER'S TAKE: The Hawks need to play turnover free football in the first half and weather Coach McCarney's pre-game speech induced frenzy. Late in the third quarter, the Hawkeye running game begins to exact a toll on the Cyclones, as Jason Berryman starts breathing harder than Clubber Lang did late in the second fight against Rocky Balboa. Abdul Hodge & Chad Greenway eat lightning and crap thunder. Iowa 31, Iowa State 17 (LAST WEEK'S PICK: Iowa 38, Ball State 7)

Jon's Game Week predictions since the start of the 2001 season: 45-6 (88.2% accuracy) The Misses: 2001: Iowa State & Michigan; 2002: USC; 2003: Michigan State & Ohio State, 2004: Penn State.

Tune into 1040 WHO after the game for ‘Soundoff' with Jim Zabel & Jon Miller. Also catch ‘Cy-Hawk Talk; State of the Nations', and hour long television show on Mediacom Connections Channels throughout the state. Jon Miller and Steve Deace break down the week that was as well as the next game on the schedule. The program will air at 8:30pm on Friday and 10:00am on Saturday. Check your local listings for the channel in your area. Also, we will have a special 90-minute live pregame broadcast on the same Mediacom Connections Channels throughout the state of Iowa starting at 1:00pm Saturday, live from Jack Trice Stadium)

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