Iowa-UNI Preview

Iowa plays its second straight in state opponent in a row on Saturday when the University of Northern Iowa Panthers come calling.They are one of the most talented teams in division 1-AA, but they are still a heavy underdog against the Hawkeyes, a team that is looking to create its own identity after last week's bitter loss to Iowa State in Ames.

There are a lot of questions swirling around Iowa City these days, something that is typical after Iowa loses a football game.

However, the questions are magnified as Iowa was ranked #8 in the nation prior to last week's loss and several publications predicted Iowa as their national champion this year.

Many of us in the Hawkeye Nation knew that such predictions were probably not realistic, but that does not lessen the blow of losing to a hated rival.

More than anything this week, Iowa fans want to see their team regain their ‘street fighter' mentality, something that has either yet to arrive as a part of this year's mojo or something they left on the bus in the parking lot of Jack Trice Stadium.

PASS HAPPY PANTHERS

How's this for a good day at the office; last week against Minnesota-Duluth, UNI QB Eric Sanders was 12-14 for 311 yards three TD's. After two games, Sanders is completing nearly 84-percent of his passes, he has 600 yards passing with six TD's and no interceptions and has a passer rating over 300.

HAWKS NOT HIGH ON GRASS

Saturday's game will be the last contest on the current sod in Kinnick Stadium. That's right, it's the last gas for the current grass.

After the game, Iowa will rip the old turf out by the roots and begin laying brand new sod for not only the rest of this season, but for many seasons to come. Replacing the turf is going to cost somewhere around $150,000, so that is a multiyear commitment to the real stuff.

Many people speculated that Iowa would move to the latest version of artificial turf after this season, but that will not be the case. Iowa, Northwestern, Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State all have the real stuff while the rest of the league has gone to the fake-but-close-to-real stuff over the last few years, with Illinois being the first league team to go to the lifelike knockoff.

DISTURBING TREND

In just two games this year, Iowa has lost five fumbles. That equals the amount of fumbles the Hawks lost all of last season. Iowa State's offense did not score on any drives that began as a result of an Iowa punt or kickoff; all 23 if their points came off of turnovers.

Iowa's offense has not entered the redzone now for five consecutive quarters. The last time that happened was against Nebraska in 1999…Kirk Ferentz's first game as Iowa's head coach.

GETTING THEIR KICKS Junior Andy Fenstermaker and senior John Gallery have been splitting the punting duties the first two games. Together, the duo has punted nine times for a 45.3 average, which ranks 15th nationally. Last week, Gallery punted four times, resulting in a 45.8 average, including a career-long 57-yarder. Fenstermaker punted three times, resulting in a 44.3 average, including a career-long 51-yarder. Kyle Schlicher is perfect on the 2005 season, connecting on all eight extra point attempts as well as making his only field goal attempt, the 44-yarder from last week.

STAT SHEET STUFFERS

* In two games, Iowa running back Albert Young has 201 net yards rushing. Last year's leading rusher for Iowa, Sam Brownlee, gained 227 yards in nine games. Young is averaging 8.7 yards per rush.
* Ed Hinkel and Clinton Solomon have combined to catch just nine passes in two games. Scott Chandler leads the team in receptions and receiving yardage (8/79)
* Sam Brownlee leads the Hawkeyes in scoring with 12 points.
* Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge lead Iowa in tackling with 15 apiece.
* Mitch King leads Iowa with three tackles for loss while Kenny Iwebema and Mike Follett lead Iowa with two sacks, each. Iwebema has an impressive 10 solo tackles in two games, with all but one of his stops coming by himself.

ROB HOWE'S IOWA-UNI TAKE

Unlike Missouri, Northern Iowa is willing to take on the challenge presented by Iowa. Let's hope that challenge increases above what the Hawkeyes rolled out in Ames last week. The Panthers boast impressive skill players and decent speed but will have trouble competing with Iowa's strength on the lines and depth. Also, they're built for the fast track at the Dome and likely will be slowed by the choppy field in Kinnick. I can't really see this one being close for long: Iowa 45, UNI 10.

JON MILLER'S TAKE

I don't care what the score is in this game, I just want to see the old Hawkeyes back on the field. You know those guys, the ones that do the smackin', the guys that set the tone, the team that forces other people to change what they are doing. I think that we will see that, and the bad news for UNI is that they were the first opponent on the schedule after Iowa was nearly neutered last week. IOWA 41, UNI 13.

Jon's Game Week predictions since the start of the 2001 season: 45-7 (86.5% accuracy) The Misses: 2001: Iowa State & Michigan; 2002: USC; 2003: Michigan State & Ohio State, 2004: Penn State, 2005: Iowa State.

Tune into 1040 WHO after the game for ‘Soundoff' with Jim Zabel & Jon Miller. Also catch ‘Cy-Hawk Talk; State of the Nations', an 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 5:30pm on Friday and 10:00am on Saturday. Check your local listings for the channel in your area.


Hawkeye Insider Top Stories