Friday, September 13, 2013

Iowa-Iowa State: Countdown to Cy-Hawk Game

IOWA CITY, Iowa - The 61st installment of the intrastate series begins at 5:05 p.m. (CT) inside Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday. The Cyclones are 0-1 this season following a 28-20 loss to Northern Iowa on Aug. 31. Iowa is 1-1 following a 28-14 victory over Missouri State on Sept. 7.

By the way, the USS Battleship Iowa wore the number 61.  This year's game will be special for one these teams.

Ferentz calls this week's matchup a new, difficult experience with Iowa hitting the road for the first time in 2013 with first-year starting quarterback Jake Rudock, a sophomore out of Florida.

"This is not an easy environment to walk into," said Ferentz. "It will be another degree of difficulty from the challenge standpoint. They do a good job pressing and pushing the envelope with noise right up to the snap, so it makes it tougher on the offense.

"I can't remember many trips (to Iowa State) in the last 15 years where it hasn't been lively."

Iowa State has won the last two meetings, claiming a 44-41, three-overtime victory during the 2011 game in Ames, and 9-6 last season in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series 39-21 and they are 16-8 all-time in Ames.  Iowa has won three of the last five; six of the last ten.

Ferentz says the rivalry is great for the state and unique to college football, pitting two schools from different BCS conferences.  Georgia and Georgia Tech would be the other one, but that game is reserved for the last game of the regular season.

Twelve years ago, the Cy-Hawk Game was postponed, due to 9/11.  The game was moved to the final game of the season, in 2001, due to 9/11.  It was the only time the game at season's end.

How much attention nationally will the Cy-Hawk Game grab this year?

"I am not saying everybody is paying attention, but there are a lot of people in our state paying attention," he said. "Whether we're playing here or there, it's guaranteed to be a great environment. If you like college football, it's a great thing."

Iowa's no-huddle attack has the Hawkeyes averaging 82.5 plays over the first two contests. Ferentz says whether the team runs 50 or 100 plays, it is still all about lighting up the scoreboard.

"No matter how many plays you run or how many yards you get, it's still about getting points," he said. "That is the No. 1 criteria for an offensive football team."

Ferentz is pleased with the development of the Hawkeye defensive line through the first two games. The rotation features six players with sophomore Nate Meier serving as an auxiliary seventh as a pass rusher.

"We're making progress," said Ferentz. "We're further along the road than last year at this time, and that's encouraging. It is a matter of keeping getting better, and we have to do that at every position."

With the Cy-Hawk Trophy up for grabs Saturday -- the first of four trophy games on the Iowa schedule in 2013 -- the Hawkeyes are focused on bringing hardware back to Iowa City.

"If there is a trophy at stake, we want to get it," said Ferentz. "It stands for winning the game, so that is important. If you get a chance to possess a trophy, that's a good thing."

Saturday's game will be televised on Fox Sports 1 with Justin Kutcher, James Bates, and Brady Poppinga calling the action.  Channel 219 on DirecTV and channel 150 on Dish Network.

University of Iowa football defensive coordinator Phil Parker, now in his 15th year on the Hawkeye coaching staff, has been involved in rivalry games long enough to know, you have to expect the unexpected.

Parker is in his second year as coordinator of the Iowa defense, and is again working with the Hawkeye secondary. In addition to the Cy-Hawk series rivalry, Parker became very familiar with the rivalry in the state of Michigan as a player, at Michigan State.

"The best thing you can do as an athlete, the thing the great athletes are able to do, is to keep your focus," said Parker. "You have to block out the noise and realize that all that matters is what happens on the field, between the white lines. You have to be able to go on to the next play and stay focused on the task at hand."

In the two most recent meetings between Iowa and Iowa State, the scoreboard has looked a lot different at the end of the game. The teams combined for 85 points in a triple overtime contest two years ago in Ames, while just one touchdown was scored in the contest last season that ended with just 15 points on the scoreboard.

"You have to be prepared for anything," said Parker. "We have a heck of a challenge on our hands with their offense. You just have to be prepared for a great game, in a great environment. You hope no one gets injured and go out there and play a good, tough, game."

Iowa's defense is allowing 22 points and 317.5 yards total offense through two games, but seven of the 44 points came on an interception return. A week ago the Hawkeyes held Missouri State to just 197 yards total offense. Parker knows the Iowa defense will be challenged Saturday.

"I think things went well for us this week," said Parker, as the Hawkeyes wrapped up their preparation on Thursday evening. "It will be a big challenge, playing on the road against a good team."

Iowa is lead by three senior linebackers in James Morris, Christian Kirksey and Anthony Hitchens. Last year, a pair of senior linebackers helped lead the Cyclones to victory in Iowa City.

Strong offense, strong defense and special teams have all been contributing factors over the past 60 games.  What will bring victory in 2013?

We shall soon see on Saturday night at Jack Trice Stadium.

No comments: