Friday, November 23, 2012

Kinnick Stadium: Is it Black Friday or a Red Friday on Senior Day in Iowa City?

The 14th season of Iowa football under coach Kirk Ferentz will close out on Black Friday for 2012.  Can Iowa reach 5-7, with a signature win over a Big Ten Legends Division leader, Nebraska?

It has been 31 years, since Iowa opened its third season under former coach J. Hayden Fry, and pulled out a 10-7 win over Nebraska.  Iowa has not beat Nebraska since, in four games played, since that remarkable 1981 win to open a Rose Bowl season for the Hawkeyes.

Nebraska is likely headed to the Rose Bowl themselves, if they can win today or Michigan loses on Saturday @ Ohio State, and with a Cornhuskers win in the Big Ten title game over Wisconsin.  However, the Heroes Game between Iowa and Nebraska comes first.

So, after watching Red Dawn on Thanksgiving night in Cedar Rapids, how will the Nebraska Cornhuskers come into Kinnick Stadium on Black Friday?  The Cornhuskers make the trip down I-380 to Iowa City   on Black Friday to face a beat up Iowa team.

The winds have arrived too, as the teams will have to deal with 20-30 mph winds.  It will be cold in Iowa City today.

Iowa's new OC Greg Davis has arrived in Iowa City with mix results.  A 4-7 record isn't what Iowa faithful expected.  But, can Iowa generate enough offense on Saturday to pull off an upset?

In 2010, Nebraska finished 10-4 with wins, such as a 48-13 win @ K-State, 51-41 @ Okie State and 31-17 vs. #7 Missouri.  But, Texas, who finished 5-7 in '10, under OC Greg Davis, were able to pull out off a big win over Nebraska in Austin.  In 2012, can new OC Greg Davis for Iowa pull out the same result?

With a win in the Heroes Game, Kirk Ferentz will join J. Hayden Fry with a 5-7 mark in their 14th season at Iowa.  OC Greg Davis will complete another 5-7 record, with a win over Nebraska, as well.  Odd trivia questions in college football, but a signature win indeed for Iowa in '12.

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa senior quarterback James Vandenberg, along with 18 Hawkeye teammates, are preparing for their final game in an Iowa uniform. The Hawkeyes host No. 14 Nebraska Friday (11:07 a.m., ABC) in their final game of the season.

The Hawkeyes are facing a ranked opponent for the second straight week, with one less day to prepare, as the Hawkeyes and Cornhuskers meet on Black Friday for the second straight year in the Hy-Vee Heroes Game. Iowa's first practice of the week came on Monday evening, which is usually a non-practice day for the Hawkeyes.

"The most difficult thing is the Monday part," said Vandenberg, following practice on Tuesday. "You have one less day to prepare and recover physically before you have that first practice. I feel like we are over the hump in that regard; now we want to have two more good practices in our preparation."

Through the eyes of a quarterback, Vandenberg knows Iowa has a tough challenge ahead.

They are a talented defense," said Vandenberg. "They do a good job of limiting you in the run game and the pass game. Like a lot of other good teams, if they get you in third and long, they can do things to make your protections hard and get in some coverages that will make it hard on us. We certainly have to stay in front of the chains to give ourselves a chance on Friday."

With a short week for preparation, Vandenberg and his senior teammates haven't had too much time to think about Friday's contest being the final game of the season.

"Certainly you take the one game approach," said Vandenberg. "But when it comes down to it on Friday, there is going to be a lot of emotion. Having that last opportunity to play in front of 70,000 great fans; to play for coach Ferentz and play with 105 of my best friends. It's not something you worry about now, or that it has hit me yet. Certainly on Friday there will be emotions involved."

So, what can we expect on Senior Day in Iowa?

Well, Iowa fans may want to hope the Nebraska Cornhuskers arrive flat and over confident?  Can the Cornhuskers be looking too much ahead at the Big Ten title game?  They only need a win or a Michigan loss.  A win earns them the spot, but at 4-7 (Iowa), combined with last season's 20-7 easy win over Iowa, does Nebraska expect much from the Hawkeyes today?

  • Iowa needs a balance attack on offense - senior QB James Vandenberg, sophomore RB Mark Weisman, the Iowa O-Line and the Hawkeye receivers need to click at Kinnick Stadium.
  • Iowa must play solid in all three phases of the game. Special teams are important.
  • The horizontal passing game introduced by OC Greg Davis hasn't been pretty at Iowa in '12.  Iowa's passing game needs to get the WRs more involved and Iowa's TEs need to attach the seams of the defense, as they did @ Michigan last Saturday.
  • The offense will have to keep the down and distance manageable.  Iowa's offense did put up 10 points in the first half @ Michigan, but couldn't keep up beyond 14-10.
  • The defense needs to get off the field vs. Nebraska.  Michigan rolled on Iowa last Saturday and failed to force a punt on the Wolverines, until the game was out of reach.  Iowa lost 42-17.
  • By the way, Nebraska lost @ Michigan last year, 42-24.  Who beat Michigan last year?  Iowa.  Who beat Michigan this year?  Nebraska.  Can the Iowa-Nebraska game flip this year, with Iowa at home?
  • Iowa's defense must force Nebraska to punt and/or settle for field goals.  Iowa isn't talented enough to settle for a Big 12 style touchdown fest.  Iowa needs a grind out style NFL upset.
  • Iowa football isn't sexy, but over the nearly 14 years of the coach Kirk Ferentz era, Iowa has won some big games.
Can Iowa win?   It will not be easy.  The stars and planets will have to be in alignment   How will the winds at Kinnick be for both teams?

Our Pick: Iowa 20, Nebraska 19, though it is still very possible that Nebraska will be heading to the Big Ten title game next weekend.  Michigan needs Iowa's help today, then they must take care of business @ undefeated Ohio State.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fitting of a 100 year anniversary: 2012 is a Cyclone State in Iowa, as Notre Dame returns to #1 in College Football

The last time the Iowa State Cyclones won a conference title was in 1912, while they were members of the Missouri Valley.  The the Federal Income Tax act was ratified in 1913 and the Cyclones have not won a title in football ever since.

What does that say about the State of our Great Society... oops, do we have the wrong blog here?

Back to football in 2012 ...

In Week 2 of the 2012 season, the Cyclones came into Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City and came away with a 9-6 victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes.  The Iowa Hawkeyes never found any mojo in '12, but  in Week 12, the Cyclones captured win number six, with a 51-23 road win in Lawrence over the Kansas.

Coach Paul Rhoads and the Cyclones are bowl eligible, which is solid tribute to the Cyclones 100th year anniversary of their last conference title in football.  The Cyclones will take a two game winning streak into 2013 in the Cy-Hawk Series and will be enjoying a road trip during 2012-13 bowl season.

Not since 1923, have the Iowa State Cyclones scored 50+ points and came away with a road win.  Iowa State gave up 63 points to Iowa in Ames in 1997.  But, those days are long over in the Iowa-Iowa State Cy-Hawk series.  The trivia question of who was the opponent in 1923?  The answer was Washington U. of St. Louis.

Iowa Football has hit bottom in '12, with a 4-7 record for the first time, since 1980, when the Hawkeyes finished the season, in J. Hayden Fry's second season.  Ironically, with a win over Nebraska on Black Friday  in Kinnick Stadium, the Hawkeyes could finish 5-7 in Kirk Ferentz's 14th season at Iowa.  The irony, Coach  Fry finished 5-7 at Iowa, in his 14th season in 1992.

As the nation heads closer and closer into the Fiscal Cliff, the Iowa Hawkeyes have hit a brick wall this season.  At times, all phases have come up short for the Hawkeyes.  Some Hawkeye fans may consider Iowa on some sort of cliff of its own?  We shall see...

At the end of the day, the Iowa defense was weak and was unable to stop Michigan in the Big House, ending Iowa's historical high, a three game winning streak over the Wolverines.  Michigan man handled the Hawkeyes 42-17, as junior quarterback Devin Gardner contributed in all six Wolverine touchdowns over Iowa.

No. 23 Michigan Downs Hawkeyes in Ann Arbor

The Iowa offense did establish three scoring drives at Michigan.  Iowa went three and out on their opening drive.  Michigan scored first, but the Hawkeyes bounced back on offense, with a touchdown drive of their own to make it 7-7 to end the first quarter at Michigan.  Michigan rolled down the field to take a 14-7 lead, as Iowa couldn't get the Wolverines offense off the field in the first half.  Iowa's offense could only respond with a field goal on the next drive to make it 14-10.  Michigan rolled the rest of the second quarter to take a 28-10 halftime lead.  The second half was much of the same, though Iowa put up a late touchdown and did successfully execute an onside kick.

Iowa at Michigan Postgame Notes - Story  Iowa Coach Ferentz and Player Quotes - Link

The Iowa Hawkeyes have seen attrition and injuries stack up over the past three seasons.  In 2009, the Hawkeyes finished 11-2, with a BCS win in the Orange Bowl over Georgia Tech.  The 2010 season, the Hawkeyes finished 8-5, with an Insight Bowl win over Missouri.  Last year, the Hawkeyes finished 7-6 with a bowl loss to Oklahoma.  This year, the Hawkeyes will be home for the Holidays, for the first time, since 2007.

It's been 25 years!  We returned to Iowa in 1988.  Well, it has been 25 years, since Notre Dame finished undefeated in College Football.  Look who is #1 in College Football today?  Welcome back to the Fighting Irish!

Notre Dame stands #1 in College Football, after Week 12 at 11-0, as Oregon and Kansas State both fall in Week 12.

It's been a long year in 2012.  But, there are some outstanding stories brewing.  Notre Dame could make their first BCS title game?  Of course, they travel to USC in Week 13.  Iowa State is bowl bound.  And, basketball may become relevant again for Iowa basketball fans...


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Iowa @ Michigan at 11 a.m. on ESPN for Senior Day for the Wolverines

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly...

There hasn't been a lot of good in '12 for the Iowa Hawkeyes (4-6, 2-4 B1G Legends), while the Michigan Wolverines (7-3. 5-1 B1G Legends), with a #23 ranking in the polls.  The Senior class for the Wolverines are 0-3 vs. the Hawkeyes over the past three seasons.

It good get ugly on Saturday for the Hawkeyes.  The bad, Iowa has another injury, with sophomore Damon Bullock hurt, after last week's loss vs. Purdue.  The good, Iowa has sophomorerunning back Mark Weisman, who has been out or injured over the course of the four game losing streak for the Hawkeyes.

It's Senior Day in Ann Arbor and the Hawkeyes may be Lunch for a team that has hopes of playing for a Big Ten title in '12.

Searching for Solutions

Ferentz: `It's more fun when you're riding in a parade, but we're not right now'

No pick today, since conventional wisdom is clearly with the Michigan Wolverines.  A win by Iowa would be the biggest win for senior quarterback James Vandenberg, who is struggling in his final season at Iowa.  Further, it would completely cause many fans to go nuts over head coach Kirk Ferentz ability to rise up against quality opposition, but underperform against competition Iowa is often favored to win against.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hawkeyes fall to 2-4 at home, 4-6 overall, as Purdue kicks 46 yard FG to win @ Iowa on final play

Happy Veterans Day weekend everyone.

This is a poor Iowa football team in '12.  Iowa got beat, trailing basically all game at home against a team that was on a five game losing steak.  Iowa continues four game losing streak and will have to win two straight, if they want to reach a bowl game in Kirk Ferentz's 14th season.

Iowa is now 2-4 on the season in Kinnick Stadium.  Overall, the Hawkeyes are 4-6 and 2-4 in the Big Ten Conference in '12.  The Hawkeyes will play back to back games vs. the top 2 programs in the Legends Division of the Big Ten to close out the '12 regular season.  Iowa travels to Ann Arbor next Saturday for a game @ Michigan, then closes out the '12 season with a Senior Day game vs. Nebraka.

Purdue at Iowa Postgame Notes - link

Purdue Downs Iowa on Last-Second Field Goal

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Purdue placekicker Paul Griggs connected on a 46-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Boilermakers to a 27-24 victory over the University of Iowa football team on a blackout Saturday inside Kinnick Stadium.

The loss drops the Hawkeyes' record to 4-6 overall and 2-4 in Big Ten Conference play; Purdue improves to 4-6 overall and 1-5 in league play.

Trailing 24-21 midway through the fourth quarter, the Hawkeyes used an 11-play, 74-yard drive to tie the game at 24 with 3:32 remaining. Iowa used trickery to set up the score; sophomore Damon Bullock rushed to the right, fired back to senior James Vandenberg on the far hash before the quarterback connected with sophomore Kevonte Martin-Manley for a 35-yard gain to the Purdue 26.

Three Bullock rushes moved Iowa to the 14 before Vandenberg scrambled for 8 yards on second-and-8, setting up a first and goal from the 6. Iowa couldn't travel the final 6 yards, as it was forced to settle for Mike Meyer's 24-yard field goal.

After the defense did its job by forcing a Purdue punt, the Hawkeyes took over at the 14 yard line with 1:08 to play. On second-and-7 from the 17, Vandenberg avoided a sack before scrambling 20 yards to move the ball to the 37. He followed with an 11-yard completion to Martin-Manley and a 10-yard pitch-and-catch to senior Keenan Davis to move the ball into Purdue territory.


 Stat Comparisons
 First Downs2616
 Rushing Att.-Yds44-21131-74
 Passing Yds279190
 Passing (C-A-I)19-36-026-35-0
 Total Offense79-49067-264
 Time of Possession32:3927:21
 3rd-Down Conversions9-of-164-of-16
 4th-Down Conversions1-of-11-of-3

 Iowa Statistical Leaders
 James Vandenberg19361901
 Damon Bullock23431.91
 Kevonte Martin-Manley46315.81
 Micah Hyde8-31100

 Purdue Statistical Leaders
 Robert Marve25332662
 Ralph Bolden141087.3/td>0
 Antavian Edison55010.00
 Landon Feichter6-41000

Following a pair of incompletions on first and second down, Vandenberg found Davis for a 7-yard gain on third down, setting up a fourth-and-3 with 21 seconds remaining. The Hawkeyes elected to go for it instead of attempting a 52-yard field goal into the wind. Vandenberg completed the fourth-down attempt to senior Zach Derby on a short route in the flat, but it was stopped for a 1-yard gain, giving Purdue possession at its 34 yard line with 16 seconds left.

Boilermaker quarterback Robert Marve opened the final drive with a 17-yard scramble up the middle, moving the ball to midfield with 10 ticks left. On the next play, Marve connected with Antavian Edison for a 20-yard completion to the Iowa 29 to set up Griggs' kick. Griggs was 3-of-6 this season with a long of 40 before connecting on the game-winner.

"We were getting ourselves in a position to win the ball game," said Purdue head coach Danny Hope. "We knew that if we could get protection for our quarterback, Robert Marve could be a difference maker like he was today.
"That last drive, we didn't have any second guesses in our minds that if we could protect for Robert, we could kick a field goal."

Purdue nearly doubled up the Hawkeyes offensively, holding a 490-to-264 advantage in total offense. Iowa finished with 74 yards rushing and 190 yards passing. The Hawkeyes made the game competitive by forcing and recovering three Purdue fumbles.

Vandenberg completed 19-of-36 attempts for 190 yards with one touchdown. Bullock finished with 43 yards on 23 carries with one score, and Martin-Manley had four catches for 63 yards. Senior cornerback Micah Hyde led a group three Hawkeyes with double-digit tackle totals, finishing with 11 stops, and he scored on a fumble recovery.

Marve was 25-of-33 for 266 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Boilermakers offensively. Senior Ralph Bolden had 102 yards rushing, and Edison had five catches for 50 yards.

After taking a 14-7 lead into the intermission, the Boilermakers used a nine-play, 56-yard drive to extend their lead on the first possession of the second half. On third-and-4 from midfield, Marve connected with O.J. Ross for a 28-yard gain when Iowa freshman Sean Draper lost his footing, allowing the Boilermakers to move into the red zone. The Hawkeye defense stiffened, holding Purdue to Sam McCartney's 36-yard field goal, making the score 17-7.

The Hawkeyes made it a one possession game with a 12-play, 69-yard drive, cutting the deficit to 17-14. Vandenberg connected with Bullock for a 15-yard gain on third-and-2 to move the ball to midfield. Iowa dug itself a hole when Vandenberg was sacked for a 10-yard loss on first down, setting up a second-and-20.

Purdue bailed the Hawkeyes out with a 15-yard face mask penalty on third-and-20, moving the ball to the Boilermaker 37. Iowa converted its third consecutive third down when Vandenberg connected with Jordan Cotton for an 11-yard gain to the 24. On the next play, the Boilermakers' Frankie Williams was whistled for pass interference on a delayed go route by Martin-Manley, setting up a first and goal from the 9. Three plays later, Vandenberg found C.J. Fiedorowicz for a 9-yard score.

The Boilermakers used a quick strike -- two plays, 66 yards -- to produce its third touchdown of the afternoon. After taking over at its own 34, Bolden emerged through traffic for a 56-yard gain down to the Iowa 10. On the next play, Marve connected with Gary Bush for a 10-yard score, pushing the Purdue advantage to 24-14.

After Iowa went three-and-out on offense, the Hawkeye defense set up its second touchdown of the game. Purdue started the drive at its own 8-yard line, and on the second play of the series, Marve fumbled a snap under center. Hyde snatched up the ball and returned it nine yards for the touchdown to make the score 24-21. It was Iowa's first fumble return for a score since the 2003 season.

The Boilermakers scored the game's first touchdown on their second possession, traveling 68 yards over nine plays. Marve connected with Akeem Shavers for a 23-yard gain on a misdirection route, moving Purdue to the Iowa 35. On third-and-1 from the 14, Bolden rushed nine yards to the five, and two plays later, Shavers scored on an option from three yards out, giving the Boilermakers the 7-0 lead.

The Hawkeye defense forced consecutive Purdue turnovers in the second quarter, but it only mustered seven points. Iowa got the first turnover when Marve threw a backwards pass to Bolden on third-and-7 from the Purdue 48, a play that was initially ruled incomplete.

After the play was overturned, the Hawkeyes took over on the Purdue 44, but promptly when three-and-out, punting the ball right back to the Boilermakers. On the first play of Purdue's offensive series, senior Steve Bigach knocked the ball loose from Akeem Hunt, and freshman Darian Cooper recovered the fumble, giving the Hawkeyes possession at the 22. After taking four plays to pick up the initial first down, Vandenberg converted a bubble screen to Martin-Manley to advance the ball to the 1. Bullock then followed with a 1-yard touchdown run on a pitch to the outside, tying the game at seven.

The Boilermakers responded with an 11-play, 75 yard drive to regain the advantage. Purdue converted a pair of third downs on the series, the first of which was a 26-yard completion to O.J. Ross to move into Iowa territory. The Boilermakers then used six consecutive rushes to move to the 9 yard line before Marve found Gabe Holmes for a 9-yard touchdown to give Purdue the 14-7 lead.

The Hawkeyes were fortunate to be down just seven at the half, as Purdue drove 71 yards to the Iowa 3 with the clock winding down. The Boilermakers' Sam McCartney missed a 20-yard chip-shot field goal on an untimed down.
Iowa returns to action Nov. 17 at Michigan. The game is set to begin at 11 a.m. (CT) in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Thank You Veterans: Iowa vs. Purdue in a Black Out Day in honor of Veterans Day

In 1971, I attended my first college football game with my family in West Lafayette.  It was in the middle of the win-less streak between 1961-1980 that Iowa had in football and vs. the Boilermakers.  Today, Iowa vs. Purdue in Iowa City, as the winner will snap a losing streak of their own.  The Hawkeyes have lost three straight in the B1G, while Purdue has lost five straight and is 0-5 in '12 in Big Ten play.

Iowa and Purdue are both witnessing disappointing seasons.  Purdue hired Danny Hope for the '09 season and '12 was supposed to be his best season yet.  Iowa is in the 14th season under Kirk Ferentz and '12 was supposed to be a rebuilding year, but some fans may say there is a dismantling project going on?

Hawkeyes to Honor Vets, Play Veteran Purdue  Story Link
The Hawkeyes are 2-3 at Kinnick Stadium in '12, so Parents Day and a salute to our Veterans Day should provide some motivation for the Hawkeyes, who are not in sync or 100%.  Iowa is a young team, but not the youngest in the B1G.  Purdue is a veteran team, but not playing well.  A win today by either team will knock off track an ugly losing streak.

Some good College Football in the Big Ten, but the conference is outside the road in any BCS talk in '12.  Iowa is 1-0 vs. Danny Hope as a Purdue head coach.

Our Pick for Today's Game vs. Boilermakers:

Iowa 27, Purdue 21 at 11 a.m. on Big Ten Network (HD) / btn2go

Other Big Ten games in Week 11:

  • Northwestern @ Michigan, 11 a.m. on ESPN (HD) (3D) / espn3
  • Wisconsin @ Indiana, 11 a.m. on ESPN2 (HD) / espn3
  • Minnesota @ Illinois, 2:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network (HD) / btn2go
  • Penn State @ Nebraska, 2:30 p.m. on ABC/ESPN2 (HD)
Bye week for Michigan State and Ohio State

Friday, November 9, 2012

The 2012-13 College Basketball regular season kicks off on Friday, November 9th

The 2012-13 College Basketball season begins on Friday, November 9th in Ames, Iowa City, Omaha and across the country, with Top 25 games and plenty of programs opening up the season.  Some games of interest:

Creighton, Iowa and Iowa  State each open the third season under each head coach in 2012-13 on Friday night at home.

  • Greg McDermott for Creighton
  • Fran McCaffery for Iowa
  • Fred Hoiberg for Iowa State.
Junior forward Doug McDermott (#3 for the Jays) opens the season as a first-team preseason all-American.  Story.

Depth Will Be on Display in Opener
Hawkeyes host UT-Pan American Friday night

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- There was a familiar topic at UI head coach Fran McCaffery's press conference Wednesday: depth.

For the first time in recent memory, the Hawkeye men's basketball team is deep and can press its opponents as it desires. That depth was on display in last Sunday's 100-54 exhibition victory over Quincy. Iowa scored the game's first 22 points and notched 41 points off 31 turnovers.

"Most importantly, when you look at the pressure on Sunday, it was way more intense than anything we were able to do last year," said McCaffery as he met with reporters in the Media Room at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. "At the start of the game we were running around and getting up in them, and jumped them 22-0.

"Those guys came off the floor at the 16 minute mark, and the next group came in and did the same thing, and that's harder to play against. That was fun for me to watch, and hopefully it will stay that way."

The third-year head coach is getting a better feel for the rotation leading into the outset of the regular season.
"That second group is real close, and there are guys on that second group that want to be on the first group, and that's what makes everybody better," said McCaffery. "There's probably going to be times where you're really not sure who the first group and the second group is, and that's a good thing.

"For me, it'll be an interesting challenge all season long to make sure we manage these 10 players effectively.

If it works out like last Sunday, the rotation will work itself out.

"We're going to play 10, no question," he said. "We won't ever get in a situation where some guy is saying I should be playing more. They're going to be playing and they're going to be exhausted. Whenever I took anybody out on Sunday, nobody was upset. Everybody was tired when I took them out."

The depth has led to strong competition for playing time in practice. The head Hawkeye sees this as nothing but a positive.

"The practices are more competitive," said McCaffery. "In particular, when you look at Mike Gesell's development, Anthony Clemmons guards him every day in practice incredibly tough. He's coming after his job every day, and it keeps Mike at a point where he really has to focus and concentrate on everything he does at every moment that he's out there. And that's the only way you get ready to play point guard at this level."

The old adage is practice like you play, and vice-versa. Good competition in practice only improves chances of success on the game floor.

"If you're coasting through practice and putting up numbers, then all of a sudden you get in a game and you realize it's a lot harder," said McCaffery. "When you're challenged every day, it's not quite the same difference, and you see that across the board.

"Aaron White and Jared Uthoff were going at it yesterday, and it was one of the best one on one match ups I've seen since I've been here. They were just really testing each other. Both are talented, both are competitors, and it was good for both of them, and I think that's what we're talking about here, what's better for our team.
"The reality in life is you've got to keep working, you've got to keep preparing, and you've got to understand that every time you take the floor somebody is coming after you. If you're dealing with that every day, you'll be much better able to handle it twice a week."

The Hawkeyes play their first four regular-season contests on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa opens the 2012-13 campaign Friday night, hosting Texas-Pan American at 8 p.m.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Iowa Hawkeyes head to IU to begin second half of B1G season

It has been a rocky road for the Iowa Hawkeyes in '12.  The Hawkeyes are 4-4 overall and 2-2 in the B1G Legends.  A young team has discovered a rough road trying to get on track both in the non-conference and in the Big Ten this year.

Overall, the Big Ten is down in '12.  Ohio State and Penn State are on probation.  At times, not a single Big Ten team has been seen in the USA Today Coaches' Top 25 this season.  Ohio State is undefeated, but they are ineligible for the coaches poll.

Iowa entered '12 without a lot of fan fare.  But, right now, the Hawkeyes are struggling, after dropping two straight games in a row, for the first time this season.

The Hawkeyes are considered a young team.  Thirteen Hawkeyes have started for the first time in their careers this season. Earning the first start of their career in the season-opening victory over Northern Illinois were OL Austin Blythe, OL Brett Van Sloten, RB Damon Bullock, FB Mark Weisman, DL Darian Cooper, DL Louis Trinca-Pasat, LB Anthony Hitchens, and DB B.J. Lowery. True freshman Connor Kornbrath was Iowa's starting punter. RG Andrew Donnal started his first career contest in Iowa's Big Ten opener against Minnesota, RB Greg Garmon started his first career contest against Penn State, while LG Jordan Walsh and WR Jordan Cotton started their first career games last week at Northwestern. Cotton, Hitchens and Van Sloten are juniors; Bullock, Lowery, Trinca-Pasat and Weisman are sophomores; Blythe, Cooper and Walsh are redshirt freshmen; Garmon is a true freshman.

Iowa is 2-2 at the midway point of its Big Ten season. Two of its next four contests will be at home (Purdue and Nebraska) and two will be against Legends Division foes (at Michigan on Nov. 17 and home vs. Nebraska on Nov. 23). 

Can the Hawkeyes get on track at Indiana, who are coming off the first B1G win in the Kevin Wilson era in Bloomington?  The Hoosiers (3-5, 1-3 B1G Leaders) won last week for the first time in B1G play @ Illinois 33-17.

Unlike several games being played in the Big Ten today, no trophy will be exchanged in Iowa @ Indiana game.  Iowa needs a balance attack with senior quarterback James Vandenberg and sophomore running back Damon Bullock (#32 pictured above).  As the Big Ten Network suggested this week, how much defense will the Hooisers bring to the table coming off the big win @ Illinois?

While Iowa seeks to get back on track @ IU, the Hooisers want to build on the momentum coming off the B1G win @ Illinois.  Can the Hoosiers make it two in a row in the B1G?

"Defensively, we made some strides. We did have 14 missed tackles. We have to play a little bit harder. Thought we had a few guys not playing quite at the energy that we've seen in the previous few weeks, so we didn't get off blocks and weren't as physical as we needed to be. We made some sacks and had some stops and still we need to keep pushing. Positives, we held them to 17 points. We did get the sacks, so we created a turnover on defense, one with special teams. They had the ball twice inside the 5-yard line and we hold them to three points, and at the end of the game they don't score, so a couple of red zone stops were good," coach Wilson said opening his weekly press conference.

Then, coach Wilson turned to the offensive side of the ball, with the following comments, "offensively, it was one of our worst performances. I think the Illinois defense going into it, they're a little bit more skilled and proficient than people give them credit for. Their front seven, particularly, was very good. Only 1-of-13 on third down is a little disappointing. We only had seven good plays and I don't think we were being very physical. We did have one good drive at the end of the fourth quarter, but the offense was pretty anemic all day. We didn't turn the ball over. We did score when we crossed the midfield. The fourth quarter drive was nice, but we need to be a lot cleaner. It was nice to see our defense come through. We're kind of picking it up, but again, we still haven't played a complete game yet. It was good to get a win."

In 2012, Iowa entered the 14th season under coach Kirk Ferentz.  In the off season, Iowa made several changes in the coaching staff, including coordinators Greg Davis and Phil Parker.  The coordinators continue to work on the little things with Iowa's young football team as the Hawkeyes prepare for Saturday's contest at Indiana.

Parker, Iowa's defensive coordinator, says a number of little things on defense may not show up for fans who are in attendance or watching the Hawkeyes play on television.  "Every day we are on the practice field we work on technique and fundamentals," said Parker, following Thursday's practice. "We are facing another up-tempo offense that plays at a fast pace. We have to focus on getting lined up properly and be ready to play fast."

After facing a predominately rushing attack a week ago at Northwestern, the Iowa defense Saturday will go against the #2 passing team in the Big Ten games.

"It's a challenge," said Parker. "Indiana has great skill guys on the outside. We have to get lined up, read our keys, be sound fundamentally and get to the ball as fast as we can."

The Iowa offense has had games this season where it has displayed both a solid ground game and an effective passing attack, and Davis, as offensive coordinator, feels the offense gets closer and closer each week to featuring that balance.

"We are constantly talking about details," said Davis. "That may be finishing plays, route running, blocking up front, those types of things. Last week our time of possession was good and we moved the ball, but a break down here and there prevented us from completing several drives with points."

For IowaDamon Bullock returned to action against Northwestern a week ago, and Davis says the sophomore running back has had a good week of practice.

"I was really pleased with Damon last week," said Davis. "To rush for over 100 yards, he caught the ball well, in a game that was like starting the season over. He has looked comfortable this week, he's had a good week of practice."

The Hawkeyes and Hoosiers are schedule to kickoff at 2:42 p.m. Central Time, at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. The game will be televised by BTN.  By the way, Daylight Savings Time ends at 2 a.m. on Sunday!  A look at college football games on television.

Many Iowa fans are frustrated, with key coaching staff and the execution by the offense, defense and special teams.  The sports message boards and talk shows are blowing up.  Ferentz has been in Iowa City for 13+ seasons, so how can you lose games to Iowa State, Central Michigan and Penn State at home; Northwestern on the road all in one season?  

So, what happens in Bloomington?

Can James Vandenberg find some consistent play for four quarters?  After eight games, Vandenberg hasn't shined, after leading the Iowa offense as the full-time starter in 2011.  Last year, Vandenberg in 13 starts was 237 for 404 with only seven interceptions, 58.7% on completions, 25 touchdowns, a long pass of 88 yards and a efficiency rating of 138.5.  This year, Vandenberg isn't in the Top 10 in passing efficiency in the Big Ten, with only 3 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, hitting only on 56.9% of his passes.  The biggest frustration may be that the second string quarterback hasn't taken a snap in '12.

Does the defense for Iowa step up?  The Iowa defense leads the Big Ten in turnover margin, so to help a struggling offense and regain some Mojo on defense, turnovers could be a big momentum swing for either team in Bloomington.  Special teams will be important too.  Iowa gave up a costly punt block on their first series of the second half @ Northwestern in last week's loss.

What is the Hoosiers coach Wilson thoughts as they take on Iowa Saturday in Bloomington?  "Coach Ferentz has had much success. Coach Fry got that thing going and Coach Ferentz has kept it going. They lost their last two, but they've lost to good teams. They lost to Iowa State, who's playing really well in the Big 12, their rival game early. Like we did, they kind of blew one at the end against Central Michigan, where they made a play or two, but they've lost two recent games against two good teams. It's a prideful team. They're tough. They're physical. They've had some injuries, but they're a program that overcomes that. It doesn't matter who their running back is, they're going to zone it up and get downhill and they always have a tremendous line. 

Defensively, same way. Their tape looks like it did when I was at Northwestern, 10 or 11 years ago, when they were building what became the 2002 championship team. Philosophically, they're sound and structured. A lot of things they do we're trying to emulate. Coach Ferentz is one of the better coaches in our profession and one of the better guys in the profession. His kids will have a great week and we need to learn to win at home. We need to learn to keep getting better, and this will be a challenge because this is a winning football program that we're playing and we're trying to become that. For us to put together a good week and go out and compete and see where we stack up against these guys will be a big challenge and we look forward to the challenge. I respect their program and what they do, and there's a lot of good ones in our league, but the program we're playing is one that I truly respect everything they do."

Our Picks in the Big Ten today:

Iowa 37, Indiana 24 on the BTN (HD) at 2:30 p.m. / btn2go
Michigan @ Minnesota at 11 a.m. on the BTN (HD) / btn2go
Nebraska @ Michigan State at 2:30 p.m. on (ABC / ESPN 2) (HD)
Illinois @ Ohio State at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN (HD)
Penn State @ Purdue at 2:30 p.m. on ESPNU (HD)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Big Final Weekend of October in College Football

The Iowa Hawkeyes (4-3, 2-1 B1G Legends) travels to Northwestern ( 6-2, 2-2 B1G Legends) for a big game coming off an ugly home loss last Saturday night at home to Penn State.  Big games in the Big Ten to close out October, with some great games:
  • Ohio State @ Penn State - two teams on probation that are undefeated in Leaders play in '12.
  • Michigan @ Nebraska - key game to determine who leads to race in the Legends division and spot in the Big Ten title game in '12.
  • Michigan State @ Wisconsin - repeat of the '11 Big Ten title game...
  • Iowa @ Northwestern - the Hawkeyes are struggling, while the Wildcats two close losses ended a change at being undefeated right now
  • Purdue @ Minnesota - the winner will pick up first conference win in '12.
  • Indiana @ Illinois - who remains in the cellar in the Leaders division after today?
Saturday, October 27th Game on!
  • Ball State at Army 11:00 a.m. CBSSN (HD)
  • Indiana at Illinois 11:00 a.m. BTN (HD) / btn2go
  • Iowa at Northwestern 11:00 a.m. ESPN2 (HD) / espn3 - Iowa covers spread, but Wildcats may be the more likely winner in this game.  Throw out the picks and play football!  Our hope is a 28-20 upset win by Hawkeyes, but hard to pick the Hawkeyes in this one!
  • Kentucky at Missouri 11:00 a.m. ESPNU (HD) / espn3
  • Northern Illinois at Western Michigan 11:00 a.m. ESPN-GP / ERTV (cable) / espn3
  • Temple at Pittsburgh 11:00 a.m. SNY / MASN / CSCA / ESPN-GP / ERTV / espn3
  • Texas at Kansas 11:00 a.m. FSN Affiliates (HD) / FCSC (cable)
  • Tennessee at South Carolina 11:00 a.m. ESPN (HD) (3D) / espn3
  • Ole Miss at Arkansas 11:21 a.m. SEC Network / ESPN-GP / espn3
  • North Carolina State at North Carolina 11:30 a.m. (ESPN-GP / espn3) / ACC Network (HD)
  • Southern Miss at Rice 12:00 p.m. (CSNC / CSBA) / CSS (cable)
  • BYU at Georgia Tech 2:00 p.m. (FSN Affiliates (HD) / ESPN-GP / espn3)
  • Colorado at Oregon 2:00 p.m. PAC-12 Network (HD) /
  • UCLA at Arizona State 2:00 p.m. FX (HD)
  • Boise State at Wyoming 2:30 p.m. CBSSN (HD)
  • Duke at Florida State 2:30 p.m. ESPNU (HD)
  • Eastern Michigan at Bowling Green 2:30 p.m. ESPN-GP / espn3 / BCSN
  • Florida vs. Georgia 2:30 p.m. CBS (HD) /
  • Fresno State at New Mexico 2:30 p.m. CSCA / (Comcast / TW) (cable)
  • Kent State at Rutgers 2:30 p.m. SNY / MASN / ESPN-GP / ERTV / espn3
  • Michigan State at Wisconsin 2:30 p.m. (ABC / ESPN2) (HD)
  • Navy at East Carolina 2:30 p.m. FCSA (cable) / DirecTV: 623
  • Ohio U. at Miami (Ohio) 2:30 p.m. ESPN-GP / STO / ERTV (cable) / espn3
  • Purdue at Minnesota 2:30 p.m. BTN (HD) / btn2go
  • TCU at Oklahoma State 2:30 p.m. FSN Affiliates (HD) / FCSP (cable)
  • Texas Tech at Kansas State 2:30 p.m. FOX (HD)
  • USC at Arizona 2:30 p.m. (ABC / ESPN2) (HD)
  • Illinois State at Northern Iowa 4:00 p.m. CSNC / Mediacom (cable) / espn3
  • Ohio State at Penn State 4:30 p.m. ESPN (HD) / espn3
  • Washington State at Stanford 5:15 p.m. PAC-12 Network (HD) /
  • Baylor at Iowa State 6:00 p.m. FSN Affiliates (HD) / FCSP (cable)
  • Hawaii at Colorado State 6:00 p.m. RSRM / KTVD (cable)
  • Texas A&M at Auburn 6:00 p.m. ESPNU (HD)
  • UMass at Vanderbilt 6:00 p.m. (FS South (HD) / ESPN-GP / espn3)
  • Louisiana Tech at New Mexico State 7:00 p.m. ESPN-GP / AggieVision / Comcast / espn3
  • Michigan at Nebraska 7:00 p.m. ESPN2 (HD)
  • Notre Dame at Oklahoma 7:00 p.m. ABC (HD)
  • UCF at Marshall 7:00 p.m. CBSSN (HD)
  • Mississippi State at Alabama 7:30 p.m. ESPN (HD)
  • California at Utah 8:45 p.m. PAC-12 Network (HD) /
  • Oregon State at Washington 9:15 p.m. PAC-12 Network (HD) /
  • Akron at Central Michigan 2:30 p.m. Video (new, Akron link)
  • Maryland at Boston College 12:00 p.m. espn3
  • Memphis at SMU 2:00 p.m. TW (cable) / Video
  • North Texas at Middle Tennessee 2:30 p.m. espn3
  • South Alabama at Louisiana-Monroe 6:00 p.m. $ Video
  • Syracuse at South Florida 6:00 p.m. espn3
  • Texas State at San Jose State 3:00 p.m. $ Video
  • Toledo at Buffalo 2:30 p.m. TW (cable) / Video?
  • Troy at Florida Atlantic 4:00 p.m.
  • UAB at Tulane 2:30 p.m. $ Video
  • UNLV at San Diego State 7:00 p.m. TW (cable)
  • Utah State at UTSA 1:00 p.m. espn3
  • UTEP at Houston 3:30 p.m. CSS (cable)
  • UNLV at San Diego State 7:00 p.m. TW (cable)
  • Western Kentucky at Florida International 5:00 p.m. espn3
For Iowa, the game @ Northwestern today, will be the half-way point of the Big Ten season with game 8 of the year.  The final month of November and big games, if any, in December will wrap up the regular season of the 2012 College Football season.