Hawkeye Insider Preview - Eastern Illinois

For the second year in a row, Iowa opens its season with a FCS team with a Panther mascot. The Hawkeyes are hoping things go easier than it did in 2009, when UNI gave them all they could handle. In this game preview, Hawkeye Insider takes a closer look at this week's match-up.

Eastern Illinois at Iowa

Start Time, TV:

On Saturday, Sept. 4, Iowa plays host to Eastern Illinois University at Kinnick Stadium in the season opener for both schools. Kickoff is set for 11:01 a.m. The Big Ten Network (HD) will carry the game to a national TV audience. Tom Hart, former Hawkeye Anthony Herron, and Lisa Byington will call the action.

Rankings, History:

The Hawkeyes begin the season ranked No. 9 by the Associated Press and 10th by the coaches. Eastern is tabbed as the 18th best team in the Sports Network FCS poll and 16th by the coaches.

This will be the first meeting between the schools. It also represents the first time Iowa has faced a member of the Ohio Valley Conference.

Eastern Illinois Tidbits:

-This will be Eastern's fifth straight season it has played a member of the Big Ten Conference with previous trips to Illinois (2006, 2008), Purdue (2007) and Penn State (2009).

-EIU has previously played two Division I schools from the state of Iowa. The Panthers lost to Iowa State in 1991 and trail Northern Iowa (14-6-1) in the all-time series with most of those games played when the schools were members of the Gateway Conference.

-Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and EIU head coach Bob Spoo have previously faced each other as Big Ten assistants with Ferentz holding a 5-1 series lead while working at Iowa from 1981-86 during which time Spoo was at Purdue.

-Iowa will be the highest ranked team that Eastern Illinois has ever played when the two teams kick off the 2010 season on Sept. 4 at Kinnick Stadium.

-RS-Sophomore Brandon Large has won the starting job at QB and will take his first Division I snap at Iowa. EIU currently does not have an active quarterback with a Division I snap to his credit.

-EIU will have three new starters on the offensive line.

-EIU defensive coordinator Roc Bellantoni began his collegiate career at Buena Vista College in Iowa. He later worked as the defensive coordinator at Drake from 1998-2000.

Iowa Tidbits:

-This is the third straight season Iowa has opened its schedule against an FCS opponent. Iowa defeated Maine 46-3 to open the 2008 season and defeated Northern Iowa 17-16 to open the 2009 campaign.

-EIU Coach Bob Spoo lettered at Purdue in 1956, when Iowa scored a 21-20 win over the Boilermakers. Iowa and Purdue did not play the following two years when Spoo was Purdue's starting quarterback.

-Iowa has won 44 of its last 53 games (.830) in Kinnick Stadium, dating back to the 2002 season.. Iowa was 6-1 at home in 2009. Iowa is 12-2 at home the last two seasons with the only losses coming to Northwestern.

-Iowa is 2-1 when playing on Sept. 4. The Hawkeyes defeated Tulsa 26-25 in 1993 and Kent State 39-7 in 2004. Iowa lost to Nebraska 42-7 in 1999. It was the first game for Ferentz as the Hawkeye head coach.

-Iowa is 88-31-2 (.733) in season-opening games, including a 9-2 mark under Coach Ferentz. Iowa has averaged 38.2 points and a winning margin of 31.5 in its last nine season-opening victories.

-With 18 wins as Iowa's starting quarterback, senior Ricky Stanzi ranks eighth among returning signal callers in victories. Stanzi trails the following: Andy Dalton, TCU (29), Kellen Moore, Boise State (26), Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech (23), Case Keenum, Houston (22), Colin Kaerpernick, Nevada (19), Josh Nesbitt, Georgia Tech (19) and Terrell Pryor (19).

-Iowa's depth chart for the opening contest includes 15 players who originally joined the program as walk-ons.

What2Watch4:

-EIU will break in three new starters on its offensive line against one of the top defensive fronts in the country. Left tackle Ryan Grossman gets the assignment of blocking Hawkeye all-American candidate Adrian Clayborn.

In addition to the Panthers being green up front, they'll be breaking in a new starting QB in redshirt sophomore Brandon Large. The Arizona native was the co-starter at Scottsdale Community College.

-Ferentz said No.1 MLB Jeff Tarpinian will play. He didn't say how many reps the senior would see. It will be interesting to watch how much work Bruce Davis gets and if he's improved his coverage skills.

-Christian Ballard will start at left end with Mike Daniels opening inside of him. We've heard a lot about Daniels and it will be fun to see how he does. It also will be interesting to watch Ballard back on the edge after a year at tackle.

-Will someone emerge as the first team place kicker? If the game is a rout as some have predicted, we might not see many, if any, field goal attempts. Even if the coaches pick a "starter", it could take some time before concerns are eased in this area.

-Iowa also will be breaking in three new starters on its offensive line. EIU returns its three linebackers and two ends from a year ago. It could be a nice early challenge for Iowa's front.


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