2006 Big Ten Preview: Iowa Hawkeyes

We continue our series with the preview of Ohio State's opponents and Big Ten teams with today's look at Iowa. The Buckeyes visit Iowa Sept. 30 for just the second night game ever at Kinnick Stadium. Drew Tate returns at quarterback for the Hawkeyes.

Here is the fifth in a Bucknuts.com series on Ohio State's 2006 football opponents as well as a preview for the Big Ten in 2006. We continue with the Sept. 30 game against Iowa.

Iowa

* Date, Time: Sat., Sept. 30, 8 p.m. (ABC or ESPN).

* Location: Kinnick Stadium; Iowa City, Iowa.

* Last Year, Bowl: 7-5, lost to Florida in Outback Bowl. Big Ten: 5-3/third (tie).

* Coach: Kirk Ferentz (eighth year at UI, 49-36; 11th year overall, 61-57).

* Returning Starters: 14. Offense (7): LG Mike Jones, RG Mike Elgin, RT Marshal Yanda, TE Scott Chandler, FB Tom Busch, RB Albert Young, QB Drew Tate. Defense (7): DE Ken Iwebema, DT Matt Kroul, DT Mitch King, DE Bryan Mattison, OLB Edmond Miles, SS Miguel Merrick, FS Marcus Paschal. Specialists (2): K Kyle Schlichter, P Andy Fenstermaker.

* Big Ten Championships: 11, last shared title in 2004.

* Rose Bowls: 5, last appearance in 1990.

* BCS Bids: 1, 2002 (Orange)

* National Championships (Rissman/Rockne, 1924-35; Associated Press, 1936-2005): None.

* Series Vs. Ohio State: Ohio State leads the all-time series 43-14-3, including 27-8-1 in Columbus. The teams have traded lopsided wins the last two years with Iowa winning 33-7 in 2004 in Iowa City and OSU prevailing 31-6 last year in Columbus. OSU has won nine of the last 10 in the series – including five straight in Columbus – dating to a 1992 home loss to the Hawkeyes.

* Schedule: Sept. 2, Montana; Sept. 9, at Syracuse; Sept. 16, Iowa State; Sept. 23, at Illinois; Sept. 30, Ohio State; Oct. 7, Purdue; Oct. 14, at Indiana; Oct. 21, at Michigan; Oct. 28, Northern Illinois; Nov. 4, Northwestern; Nov. 11, Wisconsin; Nov. 18, at Minnesota.

* Outlook: The Ferentz-to-the-NFL talk cooled after the school's string of three straight top-10 finishes ended last year. (Of course, a lucrative extension for Ferentz at Iowa may also have helped quiet some of that talk.

Hopes are high in Iowa City with the spunky Tate, who will be a three-year starter, back at QB. He threw for 2,828 yards and 22 TDs a year ago after helping lead the Hawkeyes to a share of the Big Ten title in 2004. He lost his favorite targets, though, and Iowa may have to rely on 209-pound tailback Albert Young (1,334 yards rushing, 8 TDs).

"Drew Tate returns for his third season with a chance to add on to what has already been a very good career," Ferentz said. "Albert Young had a tremendous season last year - the first year he has been fully healthy. We have good depth at the tight end position. With Scott Chandler returning we are three deep. We have depth at the offensive line to fill the gaps left by exiting seniors. Defensively we return every defensive linemen and our safeties are sound."

Iowa always prides itself in a strong offensive line and three starters return there.

"We have three guys who have already played a lot of football for us and they occupy their starting spots," he said. "On the other hand we have three more guys competing for the other two line positions. It is necessary for the incumbent underclassmen to fill this void."

The defensive line grew up a year ago with the rangy Iwebema (seven sacks) coming up big. Iowa lost acclaimed LBs Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge and must also find a pair of new starters at corner. Miles, an OLB, returns after tallying 68 tackles last year.

Iowa will unveil its $90 million renovation of Kinnick Stadium this year.

"It is a fantastic stadium, combining storied past and modern amenities," Ferentz said. "Most importantly it embodies the character of a true student-athlete that its namesake, Nile Kinnick, was."

* Jerry Rudzinski Says: There have been a couple years where Iowa flirted with the national championship, particularly in 2002 when both Iowa and Ohio State were 8-0 in the Big Ten.

The scary thing is that Drew Tate is coming back. People are saying he did not have that great a year in 2005 and that he needs to regain some of the magic he had in 2004. But if you take out the Ohio State game from last year, I think his numbers were solid. Ohio State just had him flustered. You remember that scene where he was so upset he was spiking the ball.

But he ended up throwing for 2,800 yards with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions. I like him back at quarterback, but the problem is Ed Hinkel and Clinton Solomon, his top receivers, are not back. Tate will need some guys to step up and make some plays for him.

This is a scary game. I think some people I talk to aren't taking this game that seriously. But it's a night game at Iowa. Those fans are passionate. That is a hostile place to play.

* Steve Helwagen Says: On Sept. 23, Ohio State plays Penn State, a team that it probably feels it owes something to. Then, seven days later, the Buckeyes have to go to Iowa for a night game. This will be just the second night game ever at Kinnick Stadium and the first since the Hawkeyes hosted Miami (Fla.) in 1992.

This has set-up written all over it – just as OSU's road night games at Wisconsin in 2003, Northwestern in 2004 and Penn State last year did as well.

Iowa got drubbed at Ohio State a year ago. If you don't think that Drew Tate and the Hawkeyes won't have some pride about themselves and try and avenge that loss, then you don't know anything about Big Ten football. Iowa is viewed by everybody as a top-three team in the Big Ten this year and this is a game, above many others, that will shape the conference race and also help determine who represents the Big Ten in the BCS.

Tate has made so many starts. You think a veteran like that will be able to handle anything.

I agree, they are going to miss Hinkel. He was a do-it-all kind of guy. Albert Young emerged at tailback last year and he is a good sized back as well at 5-10 and 209 pounds.

Defensively, Iowa loses the LBs Abdul Hodge and Chad Greenway. But Kenny Iwebema is a load at 270 pounds. He can change games from that defensive end spot.

People ask me where the toughest places to play in the Big Ten are. I always give them four answers – Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin and Iowa. OSU went out there two years ago and Jim Tressel suffered the worst loss, 33-7, in his time at OSU.

Even when the Hawkeyes aren't any good, their fans are always there 80,000 strong.

Below are archives of past opponent previews:

Game 1: Northern Illinois

Game 2: Texas

Game 3: Cincinnati

Game 4: Penn State


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