As the stakes go up for the Iowa football team, it seems like each week leading up to the game adds a few days. The only positive of time moving slowly is extra time to analyze and dissect the next contest. While that can be combustible, it's also a lot of fun, especially considering Iowa has a legit shot at playing the national title game.
Not to be outdone, I'd like to offer up some final thoughts in our "Final Take":
- Return Game: Look for Iowa to remove Brandon Wegher from kick returns. With the team down Jewel Hampton and Adam Robinson, there's no need to take a risk with the health of the true freshman.
- Seeing Redshirt: As much as this might disappoint folks who love to see the next flavor of the day, don't expect to see Brad Rogers getting his redshirt pulled this week.
- Spievey Going Away?: The Des Moines Register ran a story on Friday speculating that Iowa cornerback Amari Spievey might be playing his final games for the Hawkeyes this season.
- Bird's Eye View: As was reported in the Clubhouse earlier this week, defensive coordinator Norm Parker dealt with a health issue this week and will coach from the press box on Saturday.
- Key to the Game: The pressure will be on Iowa offensive tackles Bulaga and Kyle Calloway. Indiana boasts two outstanding ends in Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton.
- The Selection: Iowa was installed as a 17.5-point, opening line favorite. As I wrote this on Friday afternoon, it hasn't budged.
The Hawkeyes will use Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and another true freshman, Keenan Davis, to drop back on kickoffs. Davis will also get first crack as the punt returner with Colin Sandeman and Paul Chaney Jr. sidelined.
Speculation ran rampant this week when it was learned that Robinson would be out and that Rogers dressed at Michigan State last weekend, his first road trip of the season.
Expect to see Wegher taking the bulk of the carries against Indiana and being spelled by Paki O'Meara. I also wouldn't be surprised to see fullback Brett Morse to get some carries and for Iowa to employ some short routes to the wide receivers and tight ends to take some pressure off of the running game.
It would be quite a blow for the Hawkeyes to lose all three of these standouts. I don't see that being the case. Spievey may go, but the other two come back for their senior seasons.
I also trust that Kirk Ferentz will provide any player with eligibility remaining with the best information available to make the best choice. The Iowa coach still has some great NFL ties and Chris Doyle also is well connected.
Spievey is an NFL player. As much as you can respect his cover skills, the kid is tough. He's the best Iowa corner in run support in the Ferentz Era. He's as sure of a tackler as any Iowa corner in the last decade plus.
Parker coached from the box several years ago when he was struggling with his health. I wouldn't expect anything different from the defense.
If the Iowa tackles hold off the two outside men, the Hawkeyes should handle a young Hoosier interior. And if Stanzi has time to pick apart a questionable Indiana secondary, this could be the offensive breakout game for which the Hawkeyes have been searching.
I think that number is probably pretty close. It's tough to say whether or not Indiana finally gets over the hump. It's played some of the Big Ten's upper division very close, including a game it could have won in the Big House against Michigan.
This is a match-up of strength against strength with Iowa's defense facing off against a potent Indiana offensive attack. I like Iowa to win that battle. I also think Iowa's offense offers enough weapons to take advantage of a shaky Hooiser defense.
Iowa 31, Indiana 17