1. Who will lead the Hawkeyes in rushing yards and rushing attempts against UNI and why?
Jon: Paki O'Meara, because I think he will get the most carries, likely 12 to 15. I expect around 65 yards from Paki.
Rob: Brandon Wegher. I think he's going to get his carries later in the game than will Paki and Robinson and the UNI D will be worn down. The freshman rips off a few big ones in the second half.
Brian: I believe Brandon Wegher will lead the team in rushing yards, but Adam Robinson will get the most carries. Wegher will see the majority of the late action, after the game's out of hand, leading to a few breakaway runs. I see him getting somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 yards, maybe as much as 120. Robinson will see around 15 carries.
2. What will the starting offensive line look like (names and positions)?
Jon: LT Bulaga, LG Gettis, C Eubanks, RG Doering, RT Richardson. Riley Reiff will get some time as will Josh Koeppel. Next week, Iowa welcomes back Kyle Calloway and Julian Vandervelde could see some snaps vs ISU. When healthy, I think Iowa has ten offensive linemen that would start on most of the teams in this league. It might be the deepest Iowa has been along the line in the Fernetz era.
Rob: From L-R: Bryan Bulaga, Adam Gettis, Rafael Eubanks, Dan Doering, Dace Richardson. Boy, it's pretty nice to be able to slide Richardson into the slot opened up by the suspension of Kyle Calloway for this game. I liked what I saw in spurts from Doering last season. If he could put it all together, this could be a very imposing offensive line.
Brian: Well, I tend to trust the depth chart, so I'm going to list it, left to right: Brian Bulaga, Adam Gettis, Rafael Eubanks, Dan Doering, and Dace Richardson. It's the comeback kids, with Eubanks, Doering, and Richardson making their triumphant returns, whether that be from injury, demotion, or the black hole of expectations surrounding the 2005 class.
3. What does UNI have to do to pull off the upset?
Jon: Hope Iowa beats itself. Is Iowa a national title contender? Probably not, but this is a very good Iowa football team, or at least that's how it looks on paper. For UNI to win, they will have to force some Iowa turnovers AND take advantage of every one of those, meaning turning them into points. Iowa's defense is too good for that, so I don't give UNI much of a shot, outside of the longshot puncher's chance. I guess Buster Douglass did beat Mike Tyson once. But that was in Japan; this is in Kinnick.
Rob: Hope the Hawkeyes come down with a team-wide case of food poisoning? The Panthers will need some big plays on both sides of the ball. They're not going to grind it out up and down the field against this Hawkeye defense. If they pull off the upset, it will be some long passes, some key turnovers and highlight plays on special teams.
Brian: Get damn lucky. Offense/defense, there's no way UNI can match up with Iowa. If UNI gets a few unexpected scores off special teams or trick plays, it could be on like Donkey Kong. Fortunately for Iowa, I don't see that happening.
4. Other than staying healthy, what's the most important thing you want to see in this game?
Jon: I would love to see some rythym between the offensive line that Iowa plays most of the game and the running backs. I hope to see some real nice holes open up and the backs hit those holes decisively. Perhaps that is a lot to ask for a line that will not look like it will in four weeks, or for running backs that don't have much, if any experience at the college level. But I am far more concerned about seeing things go smoothly on the ground than I am through the air, and I think Iowa will come out and try to establish the run, regardless of the circumstances. What will they really get by lighting it up through the air? That won't work all year.
Brian: I want to see how the WR reps are divided up. There are so many combinations, so many different types of receivers, I'm really excited to see how KOK lines them up and rotates them through.
5. Do you expect Iowa's kick/punt return game to be a bigger threat this year than in recent years?
Jon: Yes, because the kickoff return game can't be much worse as far as production. Well, I guess it could rank lower than it did last year (75 out of 119) but when I say it can't get much worse I mean Iowa can't afford it to be at that level. They need to averaged 23.5 to 24.0 yards per return, not barely over 20. I know that might not seem like a big difference, but we are talking on the average over a season here. I hope a consistent threat grows from Iowa's ranks this year, too, one that can hang onto the football.
Brian: Yes, but it's going to have to go through some growing pains. With Andy Brodell, you felt pretty confident that he'd keep a hold on the ball, but the odds of him breaking one long were pretty slim. (It took a wet track and bad angles to make it happen against ISU.) With guys like Spievey, Chaney, Wegher, and Davis all possibly getting their shot deep, you've got a lot more potential for an electrifying play, but also a lot less experience, and the possibility for rookie mistakes.
6. Who is your pick to click?
Jon: Let's go with Broderick Binns. He has a chance to be the best pass rusher Iowa has had under Ferentz. UNI will likely have to go to the air early and often in this game as they play from behind. Iowa might be able to tee off on UNI QB Pat Grace
Rob: Pat Angerer. This guy has been chomping at the bit to hit an opponent since the final horn of the Outback Bowl. I really like this defensive line a lot. It's going to free this maniac up to do some amazing things this season.
Brian: Tony Moeaki. He'll see plenty of time with both the first and second team offense, racking up nearly 150 yards and two scores. And zero injuries.