Opponents Preview: Iowa Introduction

Badger Nation's previews of Wisconsin's 2003 opponents continues with an overview of the Badgers final opponent, the Iowa Hawkeyes.

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How the Hawkeyes fared in 2002: (11-2 overall, 8-0 Big Ten)

 

2002 Results:

 

Iowa 57, Akron 21

Iowa 29, Miami (OH) 24

Iowa State 36, Iowa 31

Iowa 48, Utah State 7

Iowa 42, Penn State 35

Iowa 31, Purdue 28

Iowa 44, Michigan State 16

Iowa 24, Indiana 8

Iowa 34, Michigan 9

Iowa 20, Wisconsin 3

Iowa 62, Northwestern 10

Iowa 45, Minnesota 21

USC 38, Iowa 17

 

2003 Schedule:

 

Aug. 30 v. Miami (OH)

Sept. 6 v. Buffalo

Sept 13 at Iowa State

Sept. 20 v. Arizona State

Sept. 27 at Michigan State

Oct. 4 v. Michigan

Oct. 18 at Ohio State

Oct. 25 v. Penn State

Nov. 1 v. Illinois

Nov. 8 at Purdue

Nov. 15 v. Minnesota

Nov. 22 at Wisconsin

 

Starters returning: 13—4 offense, 7 defense, kicker Nate Kaeding, punter David Bradley.

 

Coach Kirk Ferentz: Entering his fifth season with the Hawkeyes, Ferentz is 22-26. He was the national coach of the year last season.

 

Versus Wisconsin: The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series 40-36-2, including a 20-3 victory last season, which snapped a five-game losing streak against the Badgers. Iowa garnered 405 yards and held Wisconsin to 215. Quarterback Brad Banks led Hawkeyes offensive charge with 275 yards and two touchdowns passing and 36 yards rushing.

 

USA Today game story

 

UWBadgers.com game story

 

BadgerNation.com coverage

 

GameDay Newsstand

 

Barry Alvarez Verbatim

 

Monday Bucky Newsstand                                            

 

 

Hawkeyes 2002 in brief:

 

Iowa burst onto the scene and punished opponents through the course of an 11-2 campaign. Iowa gutted out tight games with Penn State and Purdue early in conference play then trounced the competition the rest of the way, winning their final six Big Ten games by an average of 27 points. Iowa finished tied for the conference title at 8-0 with eventual national champion Ohio State and was rated No. 3 in the country heading into the Bowl season. The Hawkeyes season ended on a bit of a low, after USC handed Iowa a 38-17 throttling in the Orange Bowl. Iowa, however, served notice that its recently moribund program was back.

 

The Hawkeyes led the Big Ten in scoring offense for the second consecutive season last year and did so behind a rugged running game and an extremely efficient passing game. Running back Fred Russell and quarterback Brad Banks led a rushing attack that averaged 214.2 yards per game, second in the Big Ten. Banks was a dynamo all season long, completing 57.8 percent of his passes and throwing for 2,573 yards and 26 touchdowns against just five interceptions. His 157.1 passer rating led the conference.

 

Banks, who won the Davey O'Brien award as the best quarterback in the country, was not alone on the award pedestal. Tight end Dallas Clark caught took the top tight end honor, the John Mackey Award. Place kicker Nate Keading was named the Lou Groza Award recipient. Joining them on the all-conference first team were Russell, center Bruce Nelson, guard Eric Steinbach, offensive tackle Robert Gallery, defensive linemen Colin Cole and Howard Hodges and safety Bob Sanders. Linebacker Grant Steen  and defensive back Derek Pagel earned second-team honors.

 

Looking ahead to 2003:

 

The Hawkeyes took the college football world by storm last season, winning the Big Ten title and contending for the national championship. It is unlikely that the team will duplicate that feat, but Iowa could very well sneak up on a lot of teams yet again.

 

The defense should be extremely tough. Seven starters return on a unit that allowed just 19.7 points (third in conference) and 81.9 rushing yards (second) per game. Iowa was fifth in total defense last season and tied for second with a gaudy 40 sacks. The team will certainly miss stalwarts Colin Cole and Derek Pagel, but with Howard Hodges at defensive end, Grant Steen at linebacker and Bob Sanders at safety, the Hawkeyes have a legitimate star at every defensive level. The Hawkeyes should have one of the best defenses in the Big Ten, with only Ohio State and Purdue possessing a similarly talented group, if not the nation.

 

The bigger question is whether the offense can even approach last year's production. Russell is back leading the running game and Robert Gallery may be the best offensive lineman in the country, but there is not much more that returns. To a large degree the Hawkeyes success will rest on the extremely broad shoulders of 6-7, 250-pound quarterback Nathan Chandler, who has to try to pick up where Banks left off.

 

The special teams should again be a huge positive, quite possibly the best in the country. Receiver Ed Hinkel returns as the punt returner. He averaged 12.0 yards per return last season, third in conference. Russell will likely take over for C.J. Jones as the kick returner and should do an admirable job. Kaeding is back after being named the best kicker in the country last season. He was 21 of 24 on field goals, including three of three from 50 yards or further and finished with 120 points. Punter David Bradley helped the Hawkeyes finish second in the conference in net punting last season. Opponents averaged just more than four yards per punt return last season.

 

The schedule does not do Iowa many favors. The non-conference slate includes rival Iowa State and Arizona State. The Hawkeyes should be riding an 11-game Big Ten winning streak win Michigan comes to town Oct. 4, but that begins a grueling stretch with successive games against the top flight of the Big Ten conference. Indiana and Northwestern are missing from the Hawkeyes schedule.

 

For good reason, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Purdue are considered the Big Ten favorites heading into 2003. Iowa is among a handful of teams that will also make a lot of noise, though. The Hawkeyes offense will need to grow in a hurry, but if defense and special teams truly do win championships, then it would be foolish to count out Iowa this season.

 


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