The biggest rivalry in the state of Iowa takes place this Saturday as the 1-0 Iowa Hawkeyes make the trip from Iowa City to Ames to take on the 1-0 Iowa State Cyclones. The Hawks beat the Wyoming Cowboys last Saturday, in Iowa City 24-3 in their first game of the year. Iowa State took on in-state rival UNI and beat them 42-24.
This battle for the coveted Cy-Hawk Trophy will be the 65th meeting between these two teams. Iowa and Iowa State first met back in 1894 with Iowa State winning that game 16-8. The Hawkeyes have won the last two contests including last year’s 42-3 drubbing of the Cyclones. Iowa leads the series 42-22.
The Hawkeyes boast a solid defense combined with a budding offense which can control the ball and make plays when it matters most. The Cyclones have a good passing attack with a good offensive line.
Unlike last year’s matchup, this one promises to be much more competitive.
The Iowa offense is led by sophomore quarterback Nate Stanley. Stanley had a good game last Saturday against Wyoming in his first collegiate start. He’s young but will continue to grow and get better as the season progresses. He will face an Iowa State secondary that gave up over 250 yards through the air last week. Could Stanley have a big game through the air this Saturday? Maybe this will be his “break-out” game.
Iowa’s rushing attack gained 138 total yards with running back Akrum Wadley getting 116 of those yards. Wadley should be considered one of the top backs in the country and needs to be hot in this game. Keep in mind that Iowa State’s run defense did do well against the Panthers last weekend. However, Wadley is a different kind of running back and could gain a lot of yards against this Iowa State defense.
In the Wyoming game, Iowa’s wide receivers caught one touchdown (Nick Easley). Hopefully, they will match up well against Iowa State’s pass defense. With Stanley still getting his feet wet, the Hawkeye receivers need to do all they can to help him move the ball down the field and keep the offense going. They should be up to the challenge.
One player who had a great game against the Cowboys was tight end, Noah Fant. Fant had two touchdown catches and is looking to continue the strong tradition Iowa has with tight ends. He can be someone that Stanley can rely on to get the ball down the field thanks to his hands and solid route running.
Iowa’s offensive line is usually one of the best in college football thanks to head coach Kirk Ferentz’s background with offensive lines. This current group is poised to help keep Stanley clean and get Wadley moving forward this year and the early returns on their performance are good. The lineup they started against Wyoming will return for this game and give the Hawks what they need to help control the line of scrimmage.
For Iowa State, their defensive line has guys like Ray Lima and J.D. Waggoner and these guys have the potential to be disruptive. The Hawk’s offensive line needs to keep them under control.
Iowa needs to control the ball and clock to have success. They should be able to do that with Wadley leading the way on the ground and Stanley making good decisions in the passing game. Limiting turnovers will be a big key in this game for Iowa. As long as they don’t give the Cyclones offense any “gifts”, they should be able to keep it close.
Iowa’s defense looked very good against Wyoming last week. They had two interceptions and kept a future NFL quarterback, Josh Allen, almost completely contained. They will face another experienced quarterback this Saturday. Cyclone junior Jacob Park put up some decent numbers against UNI this past Saturday (27/35, 271, 2 TD with a rating of 155.3). Can he have a repeat performance against Iowa’s strong defense?
Iowa State’s receiving corps isn’t bad and could cause some problems for Iowa’s defensive backs. Their leading receiver through one game this year is Alan Lazard. Lazard had 108 yards against UNI last week and will be the key receiver in Iowa State’s passing attack. Joshua Jackson, who had an interception in Iowa’s first game will have to play lights out. Jackson is an opportunistic and talented defender who can come up with big plays.
If you are a Hawkeye fan, you know just how good junior safety Jake Gervase is. He is one of the team’s best defenders. Expect him to come up big in this one dropping into coverage and working to stop the Cyclones running game. Gervase deserves some special consideration and needs to be accounted for by opponents all the time.
The Cyclones leading rusher last week was sophomore David Montgomery (14 rushes for 82 yards with two touchdowns). He will go up against an Iowa defense that allowed 59 yards on 30 rushing attempts for an average of 2.0 yards per carry. That’s a tough rush defense. Iowa State may not have much room to run.
The biggest star on defense for the Hawkeyes is senior middle linebacker, Josey Jewell. Jewell is a one man wrecking crew and can wreak havoc on any offense. He had a whopping 14 tackles in Iowa’s game against Wyoming and was named the Walter Camp and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for that performance. This is a big game and it’s the kind of game Jewell can have an impact in.
Special teams can make or break any team and these two units come in with some question marks. Iowa’s kicker, Miguel Recinos is fairly inexperienced. Iowa State’s kicker, Garrett Owens, booted all six of Iowa State’s extra points successfully last Saturday but has not been that steady. Last year he only made 58.8 percent of his field goal attempts so if it comes down to field goals, things could get interesting.
This game will not be a blowout like last year’s game. The Cyclones are better and are better equipped to handle some of what the Hawkeyes will throw at them and will not allow Iowa to run the table.
Who has the advantage?
When it comes to experience at the quarterback position, Iowa State has more of that than Iowa. The Cyclones also have more experience at the wide receiver position also.
There is one glaring advantage Iowa has over Iowa State and that’s with their defense. We have talked about a few of the talented defenders the Hawks have and you can expect the best out of them Saturday. The Hawks will need to ratchet up the pass pressure and get after Park. They will also have to contain the Cyclones rushing attack and keep them from controlling the ball and the clock.
Iowa’s offense is solid running the ball but a little sketchy throwing it. Stanley will need his receivers to step up and help him out. They need to be in the right place running the right routes and ensuring that their timing is close to perfection. One thing that will help relieve some of the pressure off Stanley is using Wadley often. If Iowa can establish a solid rushing attack, that will help make it easier for Iowa’s passing attack and give their offense a better chance of winning this game.
Who will win? I think it will be very close and that Iowa will just edge the Cyclones in one of the closest games in series history.
Score Prediction: Iowa 31 Iowa State 28