Tuesday, December 30, 2014

TaxSlayer Bowl Preview: Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Tennessee Volunteers

Jacksonville, FL - - The Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5) and the Tennessee Volunteers (6-6) have meet twice before  in football back in 1982 and 1987. The first meeting was in the 1982 Peach Bowl and the later game in the 1987 Kickoff Classic, back when current Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz was an offensive line coach for J. Hayden Fry.

The Hawkeyes and Volunteers will meet in the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl, the 70th edition of the event, formerly known as the  Gator Bowl. The Game will air on ESPN on Friday, January 2nd at 2:20 p.m. frok Ever-Bank Field (77,511) in Jacksonville, Florida.

Ferentz is the Dean of Big Ten Conference head coaches, in his 16th season as head coach and 25th season overall at Iowa.

For Tennessee, Johnny Majors was head coach at the time back when these two programs meet previously. Today, Butch Jones is head coach for Tennessee, leading the Volunteers to their first bowl, since the 2010 season, in his second season at the helm at this SEC school, since moving over from Cincinnati.

The Volunteers carry a 25-24 program record in bowl games, while Iowa is 6-5 under Ferentz and 14-12-1 overall as a program in bowl games. The series is tied at 1-1, with Iowa owning the 28-22 Peach Bowl win in 1982. The Volunteers won 23-22 in the Kickoff Classic Game in 1987, played in the Meadowlands.

The Iowa vs. Tennessee game should be  a classic Big Ten vs. SEC match up. During the 2014 NCAA Basketball Tournament earlier this year, Tennessee ended Iowa's basketball season. Each team now will finish their 2014 football season head to head in Jacksonville.

Coach Jones thoughts on Iowa ahead of the TaxSlayer Bowl:

"It is a great challenge and they are a very physical football (Iowa) team and we are going to be challenged on each and every snap and they know that. So there is a lot of physicality, a lot of mental toughness, the physical toughness, everything that goes into playing a line of scrimmage game like this game will be and it will be a line of scrimmage game. Obviously they have our respect and they have our attention, all you need to do is watch them on video. Very, very imposing offensive line and defensive line as well."

University of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz announced Tuesday that junior Jake Rudock will start at quarterback for an eighth consecutive time and the 25th time in his career Friday when the University of Iowa faces Tennessee.

Ferentz named Rudock the starter and echoed what offensive coordinator Greg Davis said Monday that Rudock and sophomore C.J. Beathard would see action in the first half against the Volunteers.

"Jake will start and they will both play," Ferentz said before the Hawkeyes practiced at Fernandina Beach High School. "I don't think it's a huge deal and it won't be a huge deal for our opponent, either, when they look at us. I'll go back to what I said in August: we have two really good quarterbacks; I wish we had this depth at every position. They both have practiced well and competed well and that's all we could ask. Our whole team has made a good effort this month; they have prepared well."

"We will be prepared for both," Tennessee coach Jones said. "Again, they are going to run what they run and there is a reason why they have been successful. They have systems in place. They are an older veteran football team so their players they are able to redshirt their players and their players grow up in their systems. When you watch them on film you see a football team that is very, very fundamentally sound in all aspects of football. The way they use their hands, their overall pad level in the line of scrimmage. They have done a great job of developing that, that is a product of their systems and their systems being in place for many, many years."

Both teams have 16 seniors on their bowl roster, but Tennessee has used 23 true freshmen compared to three by Iowa.

"They have young guys playing, but most of those guys are four and five-star recruits," Ferentz said. "There is a reason we redshirt our guys. We're two different operations that way, but I don't think anybody has an advantage. You could say they are going to be more enthused, although we're enthused to be playing this game; we're excited about the opportunity."

The senior members of the Iowa football program will play their final game as a Hawkeye at the TaxSlayer Bowl. They include LB Quinton Alston, RB Damon Bullock, DT Carl Davis, OL Andrew Donnal, OL Tommy Gaul, LB Chad Gilson, TE Ray Hamilton, DL Mike Hardy, DB John Lowdermilk, WR Kevonte Martin-Manley, WR Damond Powell, DL Wil Rathjen, OL Brandon Scherff, DL Louis Trinca-Pasat, RB Mark Weisman, and WR Drew Zaun. Alston, Scherff, Trica-Pasat and Weisman will also serve as game captains for the Hawkeyes.

Ferentz compares Tennessee's offense to that of Big Ten Conference opponents Maryland and Minnesota.

"They would be foolish not to attack us in a similar manner," Ferentz said. "I'm sure we'll get tested in the same way, the question is, can we respond to that? Can we do a better job of taking away some of the things that hurt us in those two games?"

Iowa lost to Maryland, 38-31, on Oct. 18, and to Minnesota, 51-14, on Nov. 8. Both games were on the road. Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown threw for 120 yards and ran for 99; Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner threw for 138 yards and ran for 77.

Defensively, Ferentz said the Volunteers remind him of Nebraska.

"They are talented and have good looking guys on defense," Ferentz said. "They run around and they are pretty experienced in the secondary. They are athletic."

Speaking of Nebraska, it is a game and outcome that has served as extra motivation during the bowl preparation period. The Hawkeyes led 24-7 midway through the third quarter, but lost, 37-34, in overtime, on Nov. 28.

"It's not like we had a banner game that day. The shame is, we didn't play as well as we could have," Ferentz said. "We were disappointed with that last football game for sure. We were sloppy in a lot of areas, coaching included. The team has responded. They have practiced and competed well and hopefully we'll be a better football team Friday than we were the last time we were out."

This is the eighth bowl trip to the state of Florida for the Hawkeyes with Ferentz as head coach. Iowa is making its second appearance in the TaxSlayer Bowl. Iowa lost to Florida, 14-6, in the 1983 Gator Bowl. Tennessee is making its sixth TaxSlayer Bowl appearance. The Volunteers beat Virginia Tech, 45-23, in 1994, when the game was known as the Gator Bowl, in their most recent appearance.

"I can't say enough about the job the TaxSlayer people have done," Ferentz said. "The hospitality has been first class and the place we're staying (Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort) is unbelievable. Everything has been great. The practice site is great, the guys are having a good time, and they are working hard, so everybody is getting eager for the game now."

Iowa is 11-12-0 all-time against the SEC, including a 4-3 mark in bowl games. Following are Iowa’s bowl results against SEC opponents:

2014 Outback Bowl LSU L, 14-21
2009 Outback Bowl South Carolina W, 31-10
2006 Outback Bowl Florida L, 24-31
2005 Capital One Bowl LSU W, 30-25
2004 Outback Bowl Florida W, 37-17
1983 Gator Bowl Florida L, 6-14
1982 Peach Bowl Tennessee W, 28-22

"They have great, great leadership. Again, they are a very well-coached football team, they are very, very experienced and they played a very tough and demanding schedule as well. Again, everyone is good when you go to the bowl season. We are going to get their `A' game and it is going to be a challenge for us to try to bring out A game as well," Tennessee coach Jones said when discussing Iowa, as an opponent.

Iowa best success in 2014 came against a couple of young teams they played earlier in the year in wins at Pittsburgh and at Purdue. Will Tennessee prove similar for Iowa?

Iowa opens B1G Basketball at Ohio State; while Maryland vs. Stanford in Foster Farms Bowl tonight

Columbus, OH - - Iowa (9-4, 0-0) opens conference basketball play at No. 18/21 Ohio State (11-2, 0-0) with a Tuesday Noon tipoff on ESPN2 at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Iowa won last year's contest in Columbus.

Tuesday will mark the first time since the 2008-09 season that the Hawkeyes will open league play on the road.  Coincidentally, Iowa opened Big Ten play that season also at Ohio State. The Buckeyes edged the Hawkeyes, 68-65, on Dec. 31, 2008. 

Ohio State is 28-3 at home since the start of the 2013-14 season. The Hawkeyes were one of the three teams to beat the Buckeyes during that span at Value City Arena. Iowa won 84-74 on Jan. 12, 2014. 

Big Ten basketball tips off conference play with four games today, and three more games on Wednesday opposite the Big East Conference, who open with five games on FS1, also on Wednesday.

On the B1G Football side, the conference takes a 2-2 record into the conference's fifth bowl game, as Maryland (7-5) faces Stanford (7-5) at Levi Field in San Francisco with a 9 p.m. kickoff on ESPN in the Foster Farms Bowl.

"This has been a great week that we've been out here,” said Maryland head coach Randy Edsall. “Our guys got a chance to go to Alcatraz and go to St. Anthony's. It is very rewarding to do those things and it's great that the bowl is able to provide this. I don't know how many of our guys would be able to get there and do these types of things if it wasn't for what has taken place this week. They have worked hard this week and I am sure they've played hard when they have had the free time to do that. We are very, very grateful for the opportunity."

Maryland vs. Stanford Bowl Game Preview

Back to basketball, Ohio State has played 11 of its first 13 games at home in Value City Arena. The Buckeyes are a perfect 11-0 at home, winning their last game, 100-55, over Wright State on Dec. 27. 

Both Iowa and Ohio State have played North Carolina. The Tar Heels beat the Buckeyes (82-74) on Dec. 20 in Chicago, while the Hawkeyes won in Chapel Hill (60-55) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Dec. 3. 

Three Buckeyes average double figures in scoring: D'Angelo Russell (17.7 ppg), Marc Loving (12.4 ppg), and Sam Thompson (10.2 ppg). 

Iowa will have five days to prepare for its next conference opponent when it hosts Nebraska on Monday, Jan. 5, in the Hawkeyes' conference home opener. Iowa will play Michigan State at home next week on Thursday, Jan. 8.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Iowa Hawkeyes will face another former B1G coordinator in 2015, when Pittsburgh comes to Kinnick

PITTSBURGH -- Nationally recognized as one of college football's brightest coaching talents, Pat Narduzzi Friday was named the new head coach at the University of Pittsburgh. Narduzzi will return to Big Ten county in 2015, when Pittsburgh (6-6 in '14) travels to play Iowa (7-5 in '14) during a ACC/Big Ten match up at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

A coach's son who grew up 70 miles from Pittsburgh in Youngstown, Ohio--a city that also takes pride in its industrial heritage and football tradition--Narduzzi has spent the past eight years orchestrating Michigan State's perennially devastating defense. Under his direction, the Spartans are the only team to rank in the nation's top 10 in total defense and rushing defense each season from 2011-14.

Working under two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year Mark Dantonio, Narduzzi has helped Michigan State to Top 25 finishes in four of the past six seasons. The Spartans finished No. 3 in both polls last year following a Big Ten title and 24-20 victory over No. 5 Stanford in the Rose Bowl. In the wake of that championship season, Narduzzi was named the 2013 recipient of the prestigious Broyles Award, annually presented to the country's top assistant coach.     

This season, Michigan State is ranked No. 8 in the country with a 10-2 record and will face No. 5 Baylor (11-1) in the 2015 AT&T Cotton Bowl on January 1 in Dallas, Texas. The Spartans once again boast an exceptional defense that yields just 293.5 yards per game (seventh best in FBS) and has forced a Big Ten-high 33 turnovers.

"Our goal was not only to find the best football coach but also a person who would uphold the values and mission of the University of Pittsburgh. In Pat Narduzzi we have found that person," said Pitt's Acting Athletic Director Dr. Randy Juhl. "His achievements on the football field are well documented. Pat is widely regarded as a rising star in the coaching profession who is ready to lead his own program. It was obvious from our conversations that he also embraces the responsibilities he has beyond the game. Pat wants to impact the lives of his student-athletes long after their Pitt careers end. We are excited about what our young men can accomplish, on and off the field, under his watch."

Narduzzi has been a highly respected Big Ten defensive coordinator at Michigan State. The game in Iowa City in 2015 should take on even more interest with Narduzzi's first game against a Big Ten opponent. During the 2014 season, Iowa enjoyed a comeback to defeat at Pittsburgh from a 10 point second half deficit 24-20 on the road. Wisconsin hired back their former offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, after three seasons as Pittsburgh's head coach.
"The selection of Pat Narduzzi as our head football coach gave us an exceptionally satisfying conclusion to a very gratifying search," Pitt Executive Vice Chancellor Jerry Cochran said. "As we began the process, we believed the Pitt head coaching position was a highly attractive opportunity. That belief was only reinforced by the tremendous interest we received from sitting head coaches as well as offensive and defensive coordinators from across the country. Ultimately, our feeling was unanimous that Pat was the best person to lead our program into what will be a very exciting future."

"I am very honored to be the new head football coach at the University of Pittsburgh," said Narduzzi, the 37thhead coach in the program's history.  "I want to thank Chancellor Gallagher, Executive Vice Chancellor Jerry Cochran, Dr. Randy Juhl and Donna Sanft for providing me with this tremendous opportunity. It is an honor to join a program with such great history and tradition. I am very eager to begin working with the young men who are already in the program and meet people throughout the Pitt community. We are going to work very hard on the field, in the classroom and in the community to make the University of Pittsburgh proud."

Narduzzi has tutored an impressive list of decorated defensive players, including first team All-Americans in cornerback Darqueze Dennard, safety Kurtis Drummond, linebacker Greg Jones and defensive tackle Jerel Worthy.

Dennard was a unanimous All-American in 2013, becoming the first Michigan State cornerback to earn that distinction. He also was the school's first winner of theJim Thorpe Award, annually given to college football's top defensive back. Dennard was a first-round NFL Draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2014, the first Spartans DB taken in the initial round since 1961.

Narduzzi has coached 19 first-team All-Big Ten selections. Four players have won the conference's top individual awards under his watch, including the past two Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year honorees (Dennard in 2013 and Drummond in 2014). Shilique Calhoun was the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2013 while Greg Jones was the overall Defensive Player of the Year in 2009.

Prior to Michigan State, Narduzzi spent three years (2004-06) as defensive coordinator under Dantonio at Cincinnati, helping the Bearcats to a pair of bowl invitations.

In 2003, Narduzzi was the defensive coordinator at Miami-Ohio under the late Terry Hoeppner. The RedHawks stormed to a 13-1 record that season, capturing the Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship and defeating nationally ranked Louisville in the GMAC Bowl to finish No. 10 in the Associated Press poll. While quarterback Ben Roethlisberger headlined Miami's offense, Narduzzi's stout unit topped the MAC in rushing defense (19th nationally), scoring defense (22nd nationally) and pass efficiency defense (34th nationally).

Narduzzi served as linebackers coach at Northern Illinois for three seasons (2000-02). NIU won a pair of MAC divisional titles during his tenure and in 2002 had the league's top rushing defense.

From 1993-98, Narduzzi coached at his alma mater, Rhode Island, serving as the Rams' defensive coordinator his final two seasons. He began his coaching career at Miami-Ohio, working as a graduate assistant in 1990 and 1991, before earning his first full-time position as receivers coach for the 1992 season.

Narduzzi was an all-state performer at Youngstown's Ursuline High School, leading the Irish to the Steel Valley championship and Ohio state playoffs as a senior in 1984. He was a starting linebacker under his father, the late Bill Narduzzi, as a freshman at Youngstown State University in 1985 before transferring to Rhode Island and became a three-year starter for the Rams from 1987-89.

Bill Narduzzi was head coach at YSU from 1975-85. He led the Penguins to two NCAA Division II playoff appearances, including the national championship game in 1979, and twice was named the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Coach of the Year. 

Pat Narduzzi completed his bachelor's degree in physical education at Rhode Island in 1990 and later earned a Master of Science in sports studies at Miami-Ohio in 1992. He and his wife Donna have four children: Arianna, Christina, Patrick and Isabella.

Narduzzi will finish out his role as Michigan State defensive coordinator against Baylor in the 2015 Cotton Bowl.


Born: April 22, 1966

Hometown: Youngstown, Ohio

Alma Mater: Rhode Island, 1990

Family: Narduzzi and his wife Donna have four children: Arianna, Christina, Patrick and Isabella.


Rhode Island, three-year starter at linebacker (1987-89).

Youngstown State, starter at linebacker (1985).


Miami (Ohio), 1990-91, graduate assistant; 1992, wide receivers.

Rhode Island, 1993-97, linebackers; 1998-99, defensive coordinator.

Northern Illinois, 2000-02, linebackers.

Miami (Ohio), 2003, defensive coordinator.

Cincinnati, 2004-06, defensive coordinator.

Michigan State, 2007-14, defensive coordinator, 2013-14, assistant head coach.

Pittsburgh, 2015, head coach.


2003 GMAC Bowl

2004 Fort Worth Bowl

2007 Champs Sports Bowl

2009 Capital One Bowl

2010 Valero Alamo Bowl

2011 Capital One Bowl

2012 Outback Bowl

2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

2014 Rose Bowl

2015 Cotton Bowl

Big Ten split first 2 bowl games, Hawkeyes prepare, as next two B1G bowl games are to be played Saturday

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. -- Blue sky, sunshine, and a cool breeze greeted the University of Iowa football team at its first practice in the state of Florida on Friday. The Iowa Hawkeyes opened practice on Pirate Field at Fernandina Beach High School.

It is less than one week until kickoff of the TaxSlayer Bowl that pits the 7-5 Iowa Hawkeyes against the 6-6 Tennessee Volunteers. It will be one of several Big Ten/SEC showdowns.

On Friday, the Big Ten Conference split their first two of ten bowl games the conference will play during the 2014-15 bowl season.

In Dallas on Friday, Illinois (6-7) senior QB Reilly O'Toole threw for 295 yards and a touchdown for the Fighting Illini and fellow seniors Jon Davis and Donovonn Young each found the end zone in their final game for the Orange and Blue.

But special teams and big plays burned Illinois in a 35-18 loss in the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl on Friday afternoon.

Louisiana Tech (9-5) saw senior Cody Sokol throw a 80 yard touchdown pass to Kenneth Dixon to put the Bulldogs up 14-3 early. The former Iowa reserve QB finished 14-28 for 287 yards with the lone touchdown pass against the Fighting Illini.

The Bulldogs are now 2-0 in the Illini series and against Illinois head coach Tim Beckman.

In Detroit on Friday afternoon, the Big Ten picked up their first win. The Rutgers program closed their inaugural B1G season on a highly positive note.

It was almost impossible to come away from Rutgers’ dominant 40-21 victory over North Carolina today in the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field without feeling the program’s future is bright.

How can it not feel that way when a couple of Rutgers freshmen running backs turn in the type of performances that Josh Hicks and Robert Martin did, accomplishing something only Ray Rice had before them – followed by star wide receiver Leonte Carroo’s locker room announcement that he will return for his senior season?

But this wasn’t just about what’s ahead. For the 19 departing seniors it was a reminder of the mark they left on the program, helping to put an exclamation point on Rutgers’ inaugural Big Ten season.

Tabbed by many to finish last in the East Division of the Big Ten and to be a sub-.500 team, the Scarlet Knights finished a rousing 8-5.

“We stayed strong as a team,” said Rutgers senior left guard Kaleb Johnson. “There were ups and downs this season but this team stayed together, never got down on each other. That’s what strong senior leadership can do for you.

“When you have that and you stay together through the tough times you have a chance to accomplish the things we did this year. That’s what stands out to me about this team.”

At one point in this bowl victory, Rutgers had a 40-7 lead and had turned in what was arguably its most complete performance of the season to that point. Only a couple of touchdowns by North Carolina (6-7) in the final 6:45 spoiled that.

But it didn’t take away from the dominance. Hicks (who was named the game's MVP) rushed for 202 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries and Martin added 100 yards and two scores on 19 carries as the Scarlet Knights – powered by an offensive line featuring three seniors – rolled up 340 rushing yards.

That’s a school record for a bowl, the most rushing yards by the Scarlet Knights since 2007 (against Army) and Hicks and Martin joined Rice as the only true freshmen in school history to rush for 100 yards in a bowl game.

“When you see 300-plus on that rushing stat you know you did your job,” said fifth-year Rutgers senior right tackle Taj Alexander. “To go out like this it feels great. Being here five years you think about everything it took to get to this point and you really appreciate it when you have a game like this, especially when it’s your last one.”

Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova didn’t dazzle in his final game (9-of-20 for 184 yards with two touchdown passes) but he didn’t have to. And he was good with that. 

“I think this senior class deserved this bowl win,” he said. “I think we deserved to go out like this. That’s all that matters.”

Because the running game was so good, Nova only needed to complete two passes in the second half. But the damage was done by then. Rutgers’ 23-0 halftime lead was its largest ever in a bowl game, and it was 37-7 with 14:11 to play after a 34-yard Nova-to-Andrew Turzilli touchdown strike and a 28-yard scoring run by Martin. Kyle Federico added a 31-yard field goal with 10:04 remaining to make it 40-7.

“I couldn’t be prouder of this football team and what they accomplished today,” said Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood. “They’re a special group of young people.”

The defensive side did more than its share, quieting a North Carolina offense that is the most productive in school history. Rutgers fifth-year senior strong safety Lorenzo Waters played a major role in that, collecting 14 tackles, recovering two fumbles and blocking a field goal attempt.

“It doesn’t get any better than this if you’re a fifth-year senior playing your last college game,” Waters said. “A lot of people get caught up in statistics but it’s not about that. All I did was make plays that were available to me and the way the scheme dictated things.

“They put a lot of my shoulders today, asking me to make a lot of open-field tackles so we could do a few other things on defense, and I was able to do that.”

Carroo’s announcement that he is returning means that Rutgers will be brimming with as much talent at wide receiver as it will at running back.

“I’m very excited about the future for Rutgers. I know we’ll have a great team next year,” said Carroo, who finished with 55 catches for 1,086 yards with nine touchdowns.

Illinois and Rutgers have closed out their 2014 seasons, along with Big Ten peers Indiana, Michigan, Northwestern and Purdue, who each failed to reach a 6-6 season in 2014.

Up next on Saturday are Penn State and Nebraska, as each squares off in their respective bowl games.

Out East on Saturday afternoon, Penn State (6-6) will be making its 45th bowl appearance in program history when they face Boston College (7-5) in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. The game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN.

The game will close out the Nittany Lions era a probation. As the bowl ban was lifted earlier in the season for Penn State.

"We've had a fantastic week," Penn State head coach James Franklin said. "To spend a week in New York City during the Christmas holiday has been unbelievable...It's been first class from top to bottom, so I'm thankful for that. We've had a great week, and we are looking forward to getting out there to play the game."

The Pinstripe Bowl will mark the 24th all-time meeting between the two Eastern rivals. Penn State owns a 19-4 edge in the all-time series, but Boston College has won the last three meetings. The first meeting came during the 1946 season, a 32-14 Penn State win, and the last occurred on Sept. 11, 2004, a 21-7 BC victory.

Penn State enters with one of the nation's top defensive units; ranking No. 1 in rushing defense (84.8 ypg), No. 2 passing efficiency defense (99.71) and total defense (269.8 ypg), and the No. 7 scoring defense (17.7 ppg).

"This is an opportunity to get out there and play the way we are capable of playing and finish on a positive note," Franklin said. "I'm really, really proud of our guys and thankful for the opportunity to be here."

Boston College leans on the running game and the two-headed attack of quarterback Tyler Murphy and running back Jon Hilliman. As a team, Boston College ranks 14th nationally with 251.8 rushing yards per game, with 29 of their 40 offensive scores coming on the ground. The defense is also stout against the run, sitting No. 4 nationally with just 95.5 yards per game allowed. They also rank 12th in the FBS with just 313.5 yards of total offense allowed.

Boston College - Penn State Bowl Game Preview

Out West on Saturday night, the Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-3) will kick off at 7 p.m. on ESPN, in the Holiday Bowl against the USC Trojans (8-4). The Trojans, like USC, are recently familiar to bowl bans.

“It helps on some level, we have a bit or familiarity with Coach Sarkisian’s offense,” Papuchis said. “I’m sure they’re going to have a unique plan this time though.”

The Huskers will be working with a linebacker unit that is banged up and will need contributions from players who may see an expanded role on Saturday.

“We’re a bit thin at linebacker right now,” Papuchis said. “We can’t go get any free agents. We’re preparing all hands on deck to be ready. (Josh) Banderas will play, Austin Williams may play, and we’re one snap away from Chris Weber and Marcus Newby being on the field.

With the dismissal of seventh year coach Bo Pelini, after the Iowa game, the Cornhuskers will turn to interim coach Barney Cotton before the Mike Riley era begins for the 2015 season in Nebraska.

Nebraska - Southern California Bowl Game Preview

The University of Iowa looks to rebound from its season ending Big Ten loss to Nebraska, in the TaxSlayer Bowl.

"Since the end of the Nebraska game (Nov. 28) we have been pushing toward this game, counting down the days until we get to face a good opponent," Iowa junior wide receiver Jacob Hillyer said. "It's good to get (practice) started. Some of the guys were a little sore coming off a five-day block of practice. It's exciting to come into game week and get ready for Tennessee."

Hillyer, from Somerset, Texas, caught 10 passes this season, including one for a touchdown at Maryland.

Facing good opponents is nothing new for the Hawkeyes. Six teams on their 2014 schedule (including four in a row to end the month of November) are bowl bound; Northern Iowa -- its season-opening opponent -- advanced to the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

Iowa sophomore cornerback Desmond King is in the midst of his second bowl preparation. One difference from last year is the weather: the Hawkeyes often battled rain showers in Tampa while getting ready for the 2014 Outback Bowl against LSU.

"Last year it was raining so it was a little slippery and we had trouble seeing the ball," King said. "Today was sunny with a cool wind. We had people paying more attention and everybody was focused."

King had two interceptions (one for a 35-yard Pick 6 against Indiana), 54 tackles, and five pass breakups this season. Even though the season has less than six days remaining, King said the Hawkeyes are treating it as another week and not getting ahead of themselves.

"We're getting comfortable in the playbook and trying to get ready for Tennessee on Jan. 2," King said. "It's another step forward."

King said the team got off to a quick start with Friday's practice, calling it a "good, up-tempo day."

Iowa is playing its 12th bowl game in the last 14 seasons under head coach Kirk Ferentz. The Hawkeyes are 6-5 in those postseason games -- more wins than any other program in the Big Ten Conference during that span.

The TaxSlayer Bowl will kick off at 2:20 p.m. on ESPN from EverBank Field in Jacksonville on Friday, Jan. 2.

How strong will the Big Ten close out the 2014-15 bowl season?

Friday, December 26, 2014

The B1G Bowl season kicks off today, post Christmas with Illinois and Rutgers

Jacksonville, FL - - The Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5) arrived on Christmas to Jacksonville for their Taxpayer Bowl date next Friday with the Tennessee Volunteers (6-6). The Big Ten Conference opens bowl play today with the first two games of ten bowls featuring conference schools.

Illinois and Rutgers both kick off the today the 2014-15 B1G bowl season for the Big Ten, the day after Christmas, with back to back games on ESPN.

At Noon, Illinois-Louisiana Tech in the Heart of Dallas Bowl kicks off from the old Cotton Bowl. The Fighting Illini closed out B1G play with wins over Penn State and Northwestern, after their home loss to the Hawkeyes to finish 6-6 on the season.

Illinois head coach Tim Beckman has the Fighting Illini in their first bowl game in three years, at the helm. Beckman's father was an assistant coach during the Bob Commings era at Iowa.

Illinois WR Mike Dudek is having the most prolific season for a freshman receiver in school history. Dudek is a first-team Freshman All-American by ESPN, USA Today, Scout, 247Sports and Phil Steele with more possibly to come.

After serving as a backup for most of his Illini career, senior QB Reilly O'Toole has put the team on his back down the stretch, leading the Illini to gutsy wins over Minnesota, Penn State and Northwestern in the final five games to lock up a bowl berth. 

Louisiana Tech finished 8-5 during the regular season, as a member of the Conference USA. The Bulldogs are lead by QB Cody Sokol, who transferred out from Iowa, after this Spring, and #3 on the Iowa quarterbacks depth chart.

Illinois has an all-time record of 8-9 in bowl games.

Illinois trails the all-time series with Louisiana Tech 1-0, with the Bulldogs earning a 52-24 victory in Champaign on Sept. 22, 2012, just the fourth game of Beckman's tenure with the Illini.

Louisiana Tech defensive end Houston Bates started all 12 games at Illinois in 2013, ranking second on the team with 12.0 TFLs and 3.5 sacks. The Covington, Louisiana, native transferred to Louisiana Tech following the season with one year of eligibility remaining.

After the Illinois-Louisiana Tech game, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (7-5) will face a 3:30 p.m. kick-off against the North Carolina Tar Heels (6-6) from Detroit in the Quick Lane Bowl. A ESPN preview of this match up in Detroit.

Rutgers just completed their inaugural season as a member of the Big Ten Conference. The Scarlet Knights have a 3-3 all-time record with North Carolina, out of the ACC.

The Tar Heels own a three game winning streak with Rutgers, with the last win in the 2011 regular season.

Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood is seeking his first bowl win as coach. Rutgers is 5-4 overall in bowl games and 0-1 vs. ACC opponents.

Back in Jacksonville, the Iowa Hawkeyes touched down on Christmas Day, as the Florida stay during bowl prep for the Taxpayer Bowl at the Gator Bowl officially begins for the Hawkeyes.

Tennessee players are enjoying the final day of four day holiday from bowl preparations, as they will rejoin each other on Saturday, before arriving in Jacksonville on Sunday for next Friday's game in the Gator Bowl against the Hawkeyes.

A Florida story sharing each programs contrasting bowl preparation ahead of next Friday's Taxpayer Bowl.

The Iowa-Tennessee series is tied at 1-1, after Iowa beat Tennessee 28-22 in the 1982 Peach Bowl. Tennessee followed up with a 23-22 victory in the 1987 Kickoff Classic in the Meadowlands.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Let's crown five outright Power Five Champs in 2014 with first College Football Playoff

Cedar Rapids, IA -- The new four team playoff creates a better Bowl System. It also provides for a fixed +1 system for a NCAA FBS Championship Game, which structures better than the old BCS system.

The season becomes more interesting with the CFP. The final bowl picture is better handled with 12 teams slotted into six bowls.

The final result should better bowl match-ups with the Top 12 teams matched up. The outright conference team can also be crowned for each Power 5 conference.

The top Two Bowls get a +1 system. It is a bowl system with the top two rated bowls getting a title game (+1).

Iowa fans despite the disappointment can get a great bowl opportunity, since we play in the B1G. As long as you are bowl eligible, the bowl selection process should provide far mar balanced match-ups.

The idea of Iowa vs. Stanford is great. Neither team had the type of season they wanted. But, 15 practices can award each with an opportunity to spring into 2015 with some momentum.

This is a better bowl system with a +1 for top two bowls. The BCS didn't create good match-ups, outside the picking of #1 vs. #2.

So, who should get Top 4 spots?

But, ultimately the Top 11 Power 5 teams and Top non-power conference team will get slotted into a better bowl match-up, than the old BCS.

Baylor vs. TCU would be a good rematch. Not the same as OU vs. Nebraska, but who would be #1 on a neutral field? Who is the outright Big 12 champion for 2014?

Are either worthy of #1 - no.

The Committee should reward Ohio State, since injury hurt them in their lone non-conference loss. The QB injury hit them 2 times and they appear for the most part as plug and play team. They went undefeated In conference play and outright champion.

Let Baylor (8-1) and TCU (8-1) play for a Big 12 outright champion game in this year's bowl picture.

Sugar - Alabama (8-1) vs. Florida State (9-0)

Rose - Oregon (8-1) vs. Ohio State (9-0)

Conference titles matter and the four above won outright titles.

The new system is a great way to preserve and improve bowl system, unlike BCS, and allow for a +1 Game.

TCU vs. Baylor on neutral field would crown an outright Big 12 winner. Let's see the real champion is in 2014.


TCU hadn't played ISU yet, which hurt them in SOS. It helped them previous in the weekly rankings.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Ranking the B1G West ahead of Big Ten Title Game: Ohio State vs. Wisconsin

Clear #1 - Wisconsin

No one is a clearly competitive enough to put at #2 in the B1G West

Not giving 2015 to Minnesota. Nebraska will have a new leader. Iowa has not performed well enough, since division play was established in Big Ten.

Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska have all failed to dethrone Wisconsin this year. Nebraska wasn't close.

Minnesota hasn't beat Minnesota, since 2003. Iowa won a B1G co-championship in 2004. Nebraska hasn't won anything, since 1999.

Mike Riley beat UW at Oregon State. He also got shutout the last game at UW. But, he is moving to Nebraska and the game will have even more importance.

Jerry Kill has beat Iowa and Nebraska, but never Wisconsin or did he win at NIU?
Wisconsin vs. Ohio State.

The Badgers have won B1G Title Games, as Michigan State did last year, after losing first to Wisconsin in the first ever Big Ten title game.

Ohio State has played in one.

Neither Michigan nor Ohio State have won a B1G title game.

Ohio State is there again. Can they join Wisconsin and Michigan State?

Northwestern is the only B1G West team to beat Wisconsin this year, so there is clearly some cink in the armor for the Badgers.

Northwestern can't beat Illinois this year. Illinois may be home for the holidays with the Wildcats and Purdue.

On Wisconsin.

They are #1. But for how long in the Big Ten? They are the favorite today?

Does Ohio State finally become top B1G dog or is probation still holding them back like the miss fire in the Tressel era and 2011 with probation?

2011 - On Wisconsin
2012 - On Wisconsin
2013 - Michigan State
2014 - Ohio State or Wisconsin
2015 - ????

Kirk Ferentz 2015-2017.

The window of opportunity is closing, but not closed for Iowa.

Here's to better days ahead for the Hawkeyes. Here's to the B1G West.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Seven Year Itch: Nebraska coach Bo Pelini at 9-3

Lincoln, Nebr. - - Nebraska makes change again in football leadership, after another 9-3 regular season and no conference title.

“Coach Pelini served our University admirably for seven years and led our football program’s transition to the Big Ten Conference,” Nebraska A.D. Shawn Eichorst said. “We wish Coach Pelini and his wonderful family all the best and thank him for his dedicated service to the University.”

Bo Pelini was completing his seventh season at Nebraska. He was 9-3, same record as former head coach Frank Solich, when he was fired at the end of the 2003 regular season.

"I fully support Shawn's decision to make a change in the leadership of our football program, and wish Bo and his family all of the best," NU Chancellor Harvey Perlman said in a statement. "I am confident that Shawn will find the best coach, teacher and fit for this University and for our football program."

Nebraska hasn't had a conference title in football, since the 1999 Big 12 title.

Check out @Huskers's Tweet: https://twitter.com/Huskers/status/539083102748819456

Friday, November 28, 2014

#23 Creighton faces Ole Miss tonight in Emerald Coast Classic

Niceville, FL - - #23 Creighton (5-0) continues play in the Emerald Coast Classic when it plays its first games of the season away from CenturyLink Center Omaha this weekend.

First up is a Friday evening game vs. Ole Miss (3-1). Tip-off at The Arena (2,200) in Niceville, Fla., is set for 7:30 pm Central.

Creighton has never faced Ole Miss in this Big East vs. SEC match up. The winner will face the winner of the Cincinnati vs. Middle Tennessee State game on Saturday night on CBS Sports Network (Direct #221).

Creighton has opened the young season with five straight wins, posting home victories over Central Arkansas (104-77), Chicago State (84-66), No. 18 Oklahoma (65-63),   North Carolina Central (65-45) and Eastern Illinois (75-53).

The Bluejays have had a different scorer in each victory, and six men are averaging at least 8.0 points per game.

Two of those men are scoring in double-figures, a group led by sophomore SG Isaiah Zierden (13.8 ppg.), with senior C Will Artino (10.2 ppg. 6.0 rpg.) not far behind.

Doing a little bit of everything has been senior guard Devin Brooks (8.0 ppg., 6.2 rpg., 4.0 apg.), who leads the team in rebounding and steals and is second in rebounding while continuing to stuff the stat sheet.

Creighton returns 11 lettermen from last year’s 27-8 team that reached the third round of the NCAA Tournament for a third consecutive season. However, senior PG Austin Chatman (9.6 ppg., 4.6 apg.) is the only returning starter from that group.

The Bluejays are trying to replace the most victorious senior class in program history, as Grant Gibbs, Jahenns Manigat, Doug McDermott and Ethan Wragge combined for 107 wins as well as 5,934 points, 872 three-pointers, 1,062 assists and 2,250 rebounds at CU. All four men are now playing professionally, including McDermott in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls after he averaged 26.7 points per game and swept 14 National Player of the Year awards last winter.

Ole Miss has won three straight games since suffering a 66-65 overtime loss at the buzzer to Charleston Southern in its season-opener.

Jarvis Summers (14.3 ppg., 3.8 rpg., 3.8 apg.) leads the team in scoring, just ahead of Stefan Moody (11.8 ppg., 2.5 spg.) and LaDarius White (11.5 ppg., 4.3 rpg.).

The Rebels are averaging 72.0 points per game, despite making just 18 three-pointers on 23.4 percent marksmanship from long-range. Ole Miss has outrebounded teams by eight caroms per contest and owns 21 blocked shots in four games.

Greg McDermott (Northern Iowa, 1988) is in his fifth season as head coach at Creighton. He led CU to a 27-8 mark last year, and is 112-38 with the Bluejays. McDermott has previously been a head coach at Iowa State (2006-10), Northern Iowa (2001-06), North Dakota State (2000-01) and Wayne State (1994-2000). He owns a career mark of 392-233 in his 21st season and is 261-169 in his 14th Division I campaign. McDermott is assisted by Darian DeVries, Steve Lutz and Patrick Sellers.

Andy Kennedy (UAB, 1991) is 174-102 in nine seasons as the Ole Miss head coach, moving his career mark to 195-115 in 10 seasons when you include a year as Cincinnati’s interim coach. He was also previously an assistant coach at Cincinnati, UAB and South Alabama, and is assisted by Bill Armstrong, Tony Madlock and Todd Abernethy.

7-Foot redshirt junior center Geoffrey Groselle had the best game of his Bluejay career on Tuesday, finishing with 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting in just 12 minutes of playing time. His play earned him a pair of standing ovations from the more than 17,400+ fans at CenturyLink Center Omaha.

Groselle had owned just 44 career points in the first 36 games of his career before his outburst. Groselle has made 26-of-34 career field goal attempts, good for 76.5 percent.

Creighton has used three men who alternate playing time at the “5” position for most of this season, Artino, sophomote Zach Hanson and Groselle.

While none of them have stats that might jump off the page individually, as a collective group they’re tough to beat, combining for 20.8 ppg. and 11.0 rpg. in 39.6 minutes per game, all while shooting 64.1 percent from the floor.

Name    MPG    FG-FGA    RPG    PPG
Artino    19.0    19-35    6.0    10.2
Hanson    12.8    10-15    3.8    5.2
Groselle    7.8    12-14    1.2    5.4
Total    39.6    41-64    11.0    20.8

Creighton will bring a balanced attack into the game against Ole Miss. Creighton owns six players who are averaging 8.0 points per game or more this season.  Eight players have scored 12 or more points in a game this year, and CU has seen a different leading scorer in each contest.

Creighton also has seven different players with five or more rebounds in a game this year. The Bluejays have had a different player with 10 or more rebounds in four games this season after only having three players with double-figure rebound totals (McDermott, Gibbs, Artino) all last season.

Three of those men (Chatman, junior James Milliken, Brooks) are guards. Chatman has been Creighton’s outright leader in rebounding two of his past three games after doing that just once in the first 108 games of his career.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving #Hawkeyes #Jays #Cornhuskers #Panthers

Cedar Rapids, IA -- We have reached the point in the athletic calendar where College Football is winding down and College Basketball has tipped off another regular season.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

The Iowa Hawkeyes (7-4, 4-3 B1G West) will host the Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-3, 4-3 B1G West) on the gridiron of Kinnick Stadium on Black Friday. It will be a 11 a.m. start televised on ABC.

Both, the Iowa and Nebraska basketball programs are off to a slower start with each experiencing a loss already on the books. Iowa is 4-2, while Nebraska is 3-1.

In football, some Hawkeye fans and even more Cornhusker fans are getting restless, tired and frustrated with their head coach's lack of high success. Neither Kirk Ferentz or Bo Pelini have won a conference title in the last ten and seven years, respectively. Ferentz did win in 2002 and 2004 at Iowa. Pelini is enjoying his seven year itch at Nebraska.

Remember, change for the sake of change often doesn't bring fruit in the Heartland. The Hawkeyes and Cornhuskers will enjoy their border way on Black Friday. Iowa won last year in Lincoln 38-17, but haven't won at Kinnick over Nebraska in 33 years.

At the present time, neither is ranked in the Top 25 in either sport.

Both will be heading south for the bowl season, but this game was hopefully for a division title on the line, but will have to wait for next season?

The B1G West title will be determined Saturday, as Minnesota @ Wisconsin is played for Paul Bunyan's Ax. The winnet will earn a date in the Big Ten title game with Ohio State. We expected the Golden Gophers to win, but with RB David Cobb's injury, the Badgers are likely in a good position for a date with the Buckeyes.

Creighton men's basketball is off to a 5-0 start, as head coach Greg McDermott turned 50 on Tuesday night with the Jays' fifth win of the season. Last week's win over then #18 Oklahoma at CenturyLink placed the Jays at #23 in this week's AP Poll.

With only one returning full-time starter, senior PG Austin Chatman, the new look Jays have seen five different players step up to lead the Creighton scoring chart in five straight games. Last year, NCAA player of the year Doug McDermott lead Creighton in scoring in all but three games.

The Jays men's soccer team beat Oregon State on Sunday to advance to the Sweet 16 of the College Cup. The women's volleyball team is still playing, after a successful Big East season.

Iowa State football plays West Virginia on Saturday at Jack Trice for Senior Day. It has been a long journey a 2-8 season and zero Big 12 victories. Time is running out, but the Cyclones won the Cy-Hawk Trophy, so Life's Good for Paul Rhoads and his program in Ames.

Iowa State (3-1) men's basketball is in good hands with coach Fred Hoiberg. The Cyclones fell to Maryland in Kansas City ahead of Thanksgiving.

The Cy-Hawk Game will be in Iowa City in December. Creighton at Nebraska will be another good intra-state basketball game coming in December. Both games will be televised by the Big Ten Network.

The University of Northern Iowa Panthers open the FCS Football Playoffs in the UNI-Dome hosting Stephen F Austin. The winner travels to Illinois State in the next round of the Playoffs.

On the hardwood, the Panthers are 6-0 and appear to have a good unit for the 2014-15 season. The Panthers received 17 votes in the latest AP Basketball Poll. They are coming off a 61-42 victory over Northwestern in Mexico on Wednesday night.

The smell of Thanksgiving is in the air, as the Detroit Lions continue the tradition of the NFL on this Holiday hosting the Chicago Bears (5-6) indoors. However, it is the Green Bay Packers (8-3) that now lead former Hawkeye Jim Caldwell's Lions in the NFC Central Division.

Enjoy the turkey and the festivities everyone!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Creighton overcomes 18 point deficit at home to defeat #18 Oklahoma 65-63

OMAHA, Neb. - Down 42-24 early in the second half, the Creighton men's basketball team came all the way back to defeat No. 18 Oklahoma 65-63 on Wednesday, Nov. 19, before 17,393 fans in Omaha.

Creighton moved to 3-0 on the season with the second-largest comeback victory in CenturyLink Center Omaha history, while the Sooners dropped to 1-1. 

Austin Chatman had 17 points, a career-high 11 rebounds and six assists in the Bluejay victory and keyed the second-half charge after CU fell behind 42-24 with 18;30 to play.

Creighton mounted a 24-4 run to take its first lead of theg game at 48-46 on an Isaiah Zierden three-pointer with 11:35 remaining. The teams exchanged seven leads in the second half, but Creighton took the lead for good with 49 seconds left when Zach Hanson tipped in a Devin Brooks miss to make it 63-61. OU's Jordan Woodard would miss a go-ahead three-pointer and Austin Chatman was fouled with 24 seconds left. Chatman sank both for a four-point margin.

OU got within two points on a pair of free throws by Isaiah Cousins with 5.0 left before Brooks was fouled with four ticks left. He would miss both and OU called timeout with 3.6 to play.

Following timeouts by both teams, Woodard drove upcourt and missed a contested fallaway three-pointer at the buzzer as the home crowd roared.

Oklahoma star Buddy Hield scored the game's first seven points as the Sooners raced to leads of 7-0, 28-18 and 33-20 before settling for a 35-24 lead at the break. Creighton shot a paltry 24 percent (6-25) in the first half and were outrebounded 24-17 by the Sooners.

TaShawn Thomas had four points and Ryan Spangler a three-pointer as OU opened the second half with another 7-0 run to make it 42-24. A Bluejay timeout sparked the greatest comeback victory in the five-year tenure of Greg McDermott at Creighton.

The 24-4 run took just 6:37, and started with a three-pointer from Toby Hegner and followed with threee-balls from Zierden and Chatman before a Zach Hanson three-point play made it a 12-2 run and trimmed the deficit to single-figures at 44-36 with 15:26 left. The onslaught continued despite two timeouts from OU coach Lon Kruger. Hoops by Brooks and Chatman got CU within four before a Hield tip-in made it 46-40 OU wiht 13:18 left. But Hegner drained a three-pointer, and Hanson another jumper before Zierden's three-pointer gave CU its first lead at 48-46 with 11:35 left.

Neither team led by more than four points the rest of the game.

In addition to Chatman's first career point/rebound double-double (17 & 11), Hegner and Zierden both scored 11 points. Creighton shot 37.5 percent for the game and 8-for-26 (30.8 percent) from three-point range, while also sinking 15-of-21 foul shots.

Hield led all scorers with 21 points for OU before fouling out with four seconds left., while Ryan Spangler had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the double-double. Houston transfer TaShawn Thomas had 14 points and six rebounds as well for the Sooners. Oklahoma shot 35.5 percent for the game, including 8-of-24 percent from downtown (33.3 percent), while making 11-of-14 free throws. OU owned a 44-37 edge on the glass.

The Bluejays return to action on Sunday, Nov. 23 as Creighton begins play in the Emerald Coast Classic against North Carolina Central at 3:00 pm.

NOTES: No. 18 Oklahoma was the highest-ranked non-conference opponent to play Creighton in Omaha since the Bluejays overcame a 37-19 deficit to defeat No. 17 Western Kentucky on Nov. 27, 2001 ... Creighton improved to 21-119 all-time vs. AP Top 25 teams, including a 4-2 mark at CenturyLink Center Omaha, and a 7-3 mark at home since 1998-99 .. Creighton has won 25 straight regular-season home games vs. teams from the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, BIG EAST, Pac 12 and SEC dating to 1996-97 ... The win extended Creighton's home win streak to 21, but this was the first time the Jays had trailed in the second half of that streak ... Isaiah Zierden has scored in double-figures in all three games this season after doing so just three times as a freshman ... Creighton improved to 47-0 all-time in regular-season home games on or before Nov. 26th ... Oklahoma has lost 12 straight games in front of 14,000+ fans, while Creighton is 22-1 in its last 23 games before such crowds ... Creighton has started 3-0 or better in 15 of the last 17 seasons ... Creighton's only larger comeback win at CenturyLink Center Omaha came on Jan. 28, 2006 vs. Wichita State when CU trailed 25-6 and won 57-55 at the buzzer ... Creighton's 21-game home win streak is tied for the fifth-longest active streak nationally ... Creighton was just 1-8 last year when trailing at half, but is now 1-0 this season ... Creighton's previous largest comeback win under Greg McDermott was 17 points at San Diego State on Nov. 30, 2011.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Creighton men qualify for 22nd NCAA Soccer Tournament in 23 years

OMAHA, Neb. – The Creighton men’s soccer team earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the 22nd time in 23 seasons when pairings were announced on NCAA.com on Monday afternoon.

No. 12 seed Creighton (14-3-2) will face the winner of a first-round contest between Denver (11-7-1) and Oregon State (11-7-1). The Bluejays will host a second-round match in the 48-team tournament on Sunday, Nov. 23 at 12:30 p.m. CT inside Morrison Stadium. Creighton is 3-0-1 all-time against Denver and 1-0-1 against Oregon State.

Creighton, 10-2-0 at home this season and is 11-2-0 all-time in NCAA Tournament matches played at Morrison Stadium. The Jays were one of four BIG EAST squads to make the 2014 NCAA field joining No. 8 seed Georgetown, No. 11 seed Providence and Xavier. CU owns a 2-3-2 record against fellow NCAA Tourney teams this season.

The Jays came into Selection Monday at No. 9 nationally in the latest RPI released by the NCAA on Nov. 9.  The Bluejays’ at-large selection is their second consecutive since joining the BIG EAST Conference.

Creighton is now 28-18-6 overall in the NCAA Tournament all-time. The Bluejays have advanced to at least the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals in six of their last 11 appearances. The Jays have made five total NCAA College Cup appearances (1996, 2000, 2002, 2011 and 2012).

Elmar Bolowich, the head coach of the Bluejays, recently guided teams to five consecutive NCAA College Cup appearances (Creighton – 2012, 2011 and North Carolina - 2010, 2009, 2008) and won a national title with the Tar Heels in 2001. This will be Bolowich's 19th NCAA Tournament appearance as a head coach.

Creighton won its first BIG EAST men’s soccer regular season title this year with a 7-1-1 conference record and 14-2-2 mark overall. The Jays blanked 18 of 19 opponents in the first half this season and only once surrendered more than one goal in a match this year. CU posted 10 shutouts this season and allowed only 10 goals through 19 matches in 2014.

CU ranks at No. 3 nationally with a team goals against average of 0.51. The Jays rank No. 11 in shutout percentage at 0.53 and are No. 13 in save percentage at 0.836.

CU sophomore forward Fabian Herbers earned a unanimous selection from the BIG EAST coaches as the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year. Junior Timo Pitter claimed BIG EAST Midfielder of the Year honors while Creighton’s coaching staff shared BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year honors with Xavier.

Herbers, Pitter and senior Jose Ribas were unanimous All-BIG EAST First team selections this season. Additionally, freshman Lucas Stauffer was also a unanimous selection on the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team.

Pitter and Herbers were also named to the BIG EAST All-Tournament Team following the Bluejays’ 1-0 downfall to Providence in a conference semifinal on Friday.

Ticket Information

Men’s soccer season ticket holders can purchase their regular season seat locations for Sunday’s second-round match by stopping by the Wayne and Eileen Ryan Athletic Center Ticket Office today from 2 p.m.- 4:30 p.m.

Season ticket holders can also purchase their regular season seat locations for Sunday afternoon’s second-round match by stopping by the Wayne & Eileen Ryan Athletic Center Ticket Office tomorrow through Thursday from 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and on Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Seats not purchased by season ticket holders by 12 p.m. on Friday will be made available to the general public starting at 1 p.m. on Friday. If season ticket holders are not able to purchase their season ticket locations during the allotted dates and times listed above, they are welcome to send someone down on their behalf to the Wayne and Eileen Ryan Athletic Center Ticket Office to fill out a short order form and purchase the tickets.

Ticket prices for the second-round NCAA match are $20 (upper level adult reserved), $12 (upper level youth reserved), $10 (lower level adult reserved), $9 (lower level adult general admission), $7 (lower level youth reserved, ages 3-18) and $6 (lower level youth general admission, ages 3-18).

Starting tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. fans that are not season ticket holders can purchase available tickets to the second-round match at all Ticketmaster locations (Baker’s, Younkers), Ticketmaster online at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster and charging by phone at 800-745-3000.

Parking Information

Men’s soccer supporters who received a packet of 2014 parking passes to Morrison Stadium’s Lot S or Lot C should use the one marked “Match 16 - NCAA Round 2” for entry to that area on Sunday.
Should Creighton win its second-round match Sunday afternoon and earn the chance to host a third-round match, that match would be played on Sunday, Nov 30 at 1 p.m. inside Morrison Stadium.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Cold November Day to resume Iowa Football at Illinois

Champaign, IL - - It has been 6 years, since the Iowa-Illinois rivalry has been played on the Gridiron in the Big Ten Conference. Since the 2008 season, there have been plenty of changes across the Big Ten and College Football landscape.

The BCS is gone. The new College Football Playoff has been born. The B1G is looking on the outside these days, with the play on the Gridiron.

Three new programs have joined the Big Ten, since Iowa and Illinois last played, in 2008. The Leaders and Legends divisions went bust, but today a new division has emerged, bringing back sooner the Iowa-Illinois game.

The Fighting Illini (4-5, 1-4 B1G West) will be coming off a bye week ahead of today's Iowa game, at Memorial Stadium, after an ugly 55-14 loss at Ohio State. And, sophomore quarterback Wes Lunt is scheduled to return from injury today, against the Hawkeyes.

Illinois third year head coach Tim Beckman grew up in Iowa City during his youth, as his father, Dave was an assistant for Iowa head coach Bob Commings for five end seasons, from 1974-78. He has one B1G win this season, after closing out October, with a 28-24 Homecoming win over Minnesota, fueled by the Golden Gophers mistakes and turnovers.

Illinois is going for their third B1G win in four seasons and first multiple conference win season, since 2011, when they won two B1G games, in Ron Zook's final season, in Champaign. The Fighting Illini

Beckman had this to say about getting his #1 quarterback back for Iowa.

"He (Wes Lunt) was back last week. I'm a firm believer that an injury really can't take your starting position. You deserved it. The injury was a misfortunate incident that happened. If he is healthy, which he is, he'll be our starting quarterback."

"He (Lunt) had a great week last week. It was great to see him out there. He was throwing the ball very well and I think the wide receivers got the sense that he was back out there on the football field. We had two great practices last week."

Iowa rolls into Champaign on a down note, after a 51-14 loss at Minnesota, last Saturday. Another trophy game lost for the Hawkeyes, in two games played this season. The Hawkeyes are now 6-3, 3-2 in B1G West chasing Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin, needing help in the Division race. The Golden Gophers took out their Champaign loss out on the Hawkeyes.

Iowa is facing their fourth straight opponent, who are coming off a bye week. Iowa smoked Northwestern at home 48-7, but lost at Maryland and at Minnesota, for their lone B1G losses, bookended between the B1G win at home over Northwestern to open November.

Iowa is 8-3, since 2006, in this series, but Illinois won the 2008 game 27-24, with a final minute field goal, in Champaign.

What will Saturday bring for two football teams coming off 50 to something losses?

"We've really done a great job as a coaching staff of using the bye weeks in a positive way. I still think it's very important that we go out as coaches and utilize those bye weeks for recruiting, but also these players have played a lot of snaps. Austin (Teitsma) has played quite a few snaps of football. They've been here since June 11th, so it's different from when I played - way different than when (OC Bill) Cubit played - but when I played at least we had some time off. I think when Cubit played, they had months off or something like that. I just think the way that we've handled them is the best for our student-athletes right now," Beckman shared at his weekly press conference.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, the dean of Big Ten football coaches in his 16th season, was asked about facing so many teams, who are coming off bye weeks.

"We seem to be the object of quirks, I guess. But we're not the lone ranger. It's like anything, if you want to use that as a crutch, you can use it. But it still gets down to who plays the best Saturday. And certainly they've had a little bit more opportunity to rest or get ready. And I'm sure they'll do a good job taking advantage of that. We have ample time to get ready. It's not like this game is being played on Wednesday or Thursday. So it's really about what we do this week in terms of our preparation and most importantly what we do at 11:00 on Saturday," Ferentz replied his weekly press conference.

Lunt's return forces Iowa to prepare for three Illinois quarterbacks -- Lunt, senior Reilly O'Toole, and sophomore Aaron Bailey. Ferentz calls all three a little different, but make no mistake about it; the Illini will let the ball fly.

Illinois true freshman wide receiver Mike Dudek has emerged as a top target in the passing game. Dudek is second in yardage and tied for third in receptions in conference play, so the Iowa back 7 will be tested today in the air game.

Which team handles urgency better on Saturday?

Special teams have been a challenge for Iowa, impacting field position this season.  "Yeah, it was a big factor (last) Saturday, if you look at their starting position, average field position and ours, it was a huge factor Saturday, as well as turnovers, the basics, penalties, turnovers. And the deal Saturday was turnovers, special teams, I think. I mean, one of the deals. It's not as simple as that. But these guys have a great punter (Illinois senior Justin DuVernois); this guy is one of the best punters in the country. So if you look at it this season, overall punting is not a huge discrepancy between us and our opponents. I think it's about two, two and a half yards. It hasn't been a major factor, but Saturday certainly starting field position was really tilted their direction and that probably is part of the reason why we felt we were running up hill all day long," Ferentz noted heading into game with Illinois.

Turnovers have been a key role in Iowa's three losses on the year. Also, miscues, penalties and field position have played roles.

The battle in the trenches are always important for the old line coach, like Ferentz, or the son of an old line coach in Beckman?

It will be something to watch in Champaign today.

Ferentz pointed out, "I don't know if you charted this stuff or not, but Illinois probably blitzes more than most teams we've played the last couple of weeks at least. That's going to be a different set of challenges for us. And bottom line is it's a big part of passing games. To be successful you have to protect. You gotta give the quarterback time to get his feet set and go through his reads and progression, if there are some. But it all goes together. We've got to run better routes, get free better and catch the ball when it's there."

What will Iowa bring upfront on defense pressuring their opponent, against an Illinois passing attack and what coach Beckman mentioned reshuffling going on in the offensive line?

"We won't have Teddy (Karras), so we're going to have a new face at that guard position that Teddy has played for the three years since I've been here. I think that it will always be our main goal to keep our quarterback healthy and untouched. If that means keeping extra players in to protect, or whatever that means, then we have to have that happen," Beckman shared.

How will the running game play in today's game?

Iowa ranks eighth in the Big Ten at 160 yards per game. Senior Mark Weisman and redshirt freshman Akrum Wadley have emerged the 1-2 punch the past two games for Iowa. Wadley has Iowa's lone 100 yard game for the season, in his first game vs. Northwestern. Weisman shines best around the goal line scoring touchdowns, tied for third.

Illinois ranks 12th in run offense and last in run defense, so what transpires today at Memorial Stadium?  Iowa's run defense has slowly declined, as the B1G unfolds.

Is this a breakout game today for either team?

Iowa is bowl eligible, but they have three B1G games to close out the season at Illinois, then back to back home games with Wisconsin and Nebraska, who square off against one another in Madison on ABC at 2:30 p.m.

Illinois has three games against opponents they feel they can match up and steal a win, with Iowa, Penn State and at Northwestern to close out B1G regular season.

Our pick: Iowa 24, Illinois 16 in the 70th meeting in the Iowa-Illinois series. It is a rivalry, without the trophy, but another of four border wars for Iowa to close out 2014 B1G season. 

Today's game will be televised live on BTN at 11 a.m. with Cory Provus, J Leman and Rebecca Harlow on the call.

Creighton rolls in first post-Doug McDermott game to open 2014-15 regular season

OMAHA, Neb. -- Rick Kreklow had a career-high 18 points to lead six men in double-figures as Creighton Men's Basketball won its 20th straight home opener, 104-77, over Central Arkansas on Friday night.

The game was played before 18,160 fans, the largest crowd in school history for an opener.

The Bluejays held UCA without a field goal for the first six minutes, quickly building an 14-1 lead at the start. Creighton never trailed, the eighth time in the last 15 years CU has led wire-to-wire in its opener.

The Jays led 55-34 at the half and extended the lead to as much as 38 (80-42) before a late flurry of baskets by the visiting Bears, who were playing their first game under new head coach Russ Pennell and returned just one player from last year's eight-win team.

In addition to Kreklow's 18 points, Isaiah Zierden poured in a career-best 16 points in his first game since tearing a patellar tendon in his knee last March. James Milliken debuted with 13 points, Devin Brooks had 12 and Austin Chatman added 10 points. In addition, Will Artino had 14 points and 10 rebounds in 17 minutes for his second career double-double.

Creighton shot 48.6 percent from the field, 9-of-26 from three-point range and 25-of-30 at the line. The Jays won the rebound battle 45-28 and outscored UCA 46-22 in the paint.

Boo Milligan had 18 points and seven rebounds before fouling out, while Jordan Howard had 11 of his game-high 19 points after halftime. UCA shot 46.4 percent from the field, including 45.8 percent from three-point range, and also sank 14-of-20 free throws.

Creighton returns to action on Sunday at 4:30 pm for a game vs. Chicago State (0-1). The contest will be televised and air nationally on FOX Sports 1.

NOTES: Each of Creighton's last six teams to score 90 or more points in the season-opener went on to the NCAA Tournament ... Creighton has won 31 straight home games against winless teams ... Creighton is now 45-0 all-time in regular-season home games played on or before Nov. 26th ... Creighton improved to 82-15 all-time on Opening Day, including 17 wins in its last 18 lid-lifters ... Greg McDermott has won 13 straight season-openers ... Before Rick Kreklow, the last Bluejay with 18 points or more in his debut was P'Allen Stinnett's 23 in 2007. Stinnett went on to win MVC Freshman of the Year honors ... Toby Hegner joined Ryan Sears (1997-98) and Doug McDermott (2010-11) as the only freshmen in the last 20 years to start CU's season-opener ... Creighton hasn't trailed in 49 of its 187 all-time games at CenturyLink Center Omaha ... Creighton has not lost a Friday home game since 1975 and won every Friday home game since Dec. 2, 1989 by double-digits ... Creighton has won 19 straight home games, the nation's eighth-longest active streak. CU hasn't trailed in the second half during any of those ... Creighton has won 21 straight games when scoring 100 points or more and improved to 49-2 when doing so ... Each of Creighton's last seven teams to have a double-double in the opener went on to either win its conference in the regular-season or postseason tournament.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Battle for Floyd: Iowa at Minnesota at 11 a.m. on ESPN2

Minneapolis - - The Iowa Hawkeyes and Minnesota Golden Gophers are each 6-2, 3-1 in B1G West. The winner claims Floyd of Rosedale for the season, as well as a 4-1 division record and a tie for first place in the Division with Nebraska.

Neither Iowa nor Minnesota have won a B1G Division title over the first three years of B1G division play. This year's new division comes down to November for Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin as everyone squares of with each other.

Minnesota's last B1G title was 1967, with Indiana. Iowa's last B1G title was ten years ago with Michigan. After six straight losses in the trophy game with Michigan, the Golden Gophers claimed the Little Old Jug.

Iowa has lost a trophy game this season, with a 20-17 lost to Iowa State in the Cy-Hawk Trophy Game. Iowa comes into TFL Bank Stadium off an impressive win at home over Northwestern to open November.

Minnesota lost at Illinois to close out October on a low note. The Godlen Gophers enjoyed a bye week to get healthy for the Battle of Floyd of Rosedale. Minnesota still has three players dinged, with sophomore WR Drew Wolitarsky clearly out. Sophomore OL Ben Lauer and junior Alex Keith are nursing injuries too.

Iowa is beginning to get players back at practice as the full week of November began, head coach Kirk Ferentz reported this week. The Dean of Big Ten coaches (16 years) won his first Minnesota game in 2001. It was Ferentz's first bowl team at Iowa. He is. 10-3 vs. Minnesota, since 2001.

Head coach Jerry Kill is in his fourth season at Minnesota. He is 1-2 vs. Iowa.

2011 - Minnesota 22, Iowa 21 in Minneapolis
2012 - Iowa 31, Minnesota 13 in Iowa City
2013 - Iowa 23, Minnesota 7, in Minneapolis

Iowa's offensive and defensive coordinators are 2-0 vs. Minnesota in those position roles. Iowa has two losses this season, so which team will arrive in Minneapolis and what does Kirk Ferentz, OC Greg Davis and DC Phil Parker have in store for Iowa? Can the Hawkeyes make it three in role?

Some things to watch in the Battle for Floyd of Rosedale:

1. Minnesota sophomore QB Mitch Leidner and sophomore TE Maxx Williams on play action. Minnesota is a running team, with play action the main passing avenue. Iowa must slow senior RB David Cobb.

2. Explosive plays - Iowa OC Greg Davis preaches winning explosives and turnover battles. What gives today in those areas and special teams?

3. The battle of the line of scrimmage will be a huge key for both phases of the game. Iowa has shut out Minnesota the past two seasons in the first half. In Minnesota's most recent loss, they Illini got out to a 14 point lead. Turnovers were a big problem for the Golden Gophers in the loss. Illinois won on a fumble return for a touchdown.

4. Leadership will be critical. Maryland leaned on senior leadership in their Homecoming win over Iowa. Who brings it better from a leadership standpoint: Iowa or Minnesota?

5. Iowa junior Jake Rudock and the Iowa passing offense lead the Big Ten heading into the second half of conference race. How will weather conditions impact the passing and special teams today?

6. Iowa senior RB Mark Weisman has become a good TD producer in the red zone lately. Who takes care of business in the red zone. Iowa's offensive line has only produced one 100 yard back this season, with redshirt Akrum Wadley going over the century mark in his debut as a backup RB.

7. Iowa needs the TEs and WRs to click at Minnesota. The Northwestern game was good for the wide receivers, after a tough loss at Maryland to close October. Does junior WR Tevaun Smith get early targets to get on track in the Iowa air game?

Iowa has been averaging 27 lately in last two wins. Does the defense hold the Golden Gophers to 10 points? Minnesota is 2-1 at TCF Bank Stadium against Iowa, with close wins in 2010 and 2011. Iowa has played 4 of last 5 in this series in Minneapolis.

Today's Pick:

Iowa - 27
Minnesota -10

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Happy All Saints Day: Iowa vs. Northwestern on the Big Ten Network at 11 a.m.

Iowa City, IA - - The Iowa Hawkeyes (5-2, 2-1 B1G West) return to action off a 1-1 October and bye week for a five game November slate beginning with Northwestern (3-4, 2-2 B1G West), which has become a competitive series, since the 1995 win by the Wildcats.

Is it a rivalry?

There is no trophy for the victory, but it is symbolic of a rose. With a loss, the opponent becomes a thorn, with a win there is a sense of the bloom of a rose, that you live another day, with the opportunity to compete for a division title.

Northwestern calls this series a rivalry. Northwestern coach Fitzgerald circles this game, due to what the rivalry meant during his playing days at Northwestern.

From 1974 to 1994, Iowa won 21 straight games. The series turned with three games from 1995-1997. All Northwestern wins in the final seasons of J. Hayden Fry at Iowa.

Today, forty years from the beginning of Iowa's 21 season dominance, this game will play a major role on whether Iowa competes for It's first B1G West division title over the next five games?

Forty years ago I enjoyed my first season in Kinnick Stadium. It included a win over Northwestern, a 35-10 win. Iowa has won two straight at Kinnick in this series recently, including last year's 17-10 win in OT.

The Hawkeyes have struggled at times throughout the 2014 season. Falling behind by 10 points in several games. Last year, Iowa took an early 10 point lead, only to find themselves stall. They pulled it together in overtime.

Can Iowa compete for a B1G West division title in 2014? It begins today vs. Northwestern at Kinnick Stadium.

Our pick: either a 31-15 win, or a 13-10 slugfest, that could go either way.

Peace be to you, on All Saints Day! Miss you Dad, his first Northwestern game, since his death.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Gameday Iowa: The Hawkeyes at Maryland in Big Ten Football

College Park, MD - - The Iowa Hawkeyes (5-1, 2-0 B1G West) travel to Maryland (4-2, 1-1 B1G East) for the first time ever in this series, as the Terrapins have joined the Big Ten in 2014. The Hawkeyes are seeking to close out October undefeated,  by raining on the Terrapins Homecoming today, in an 11 a.m. kickoff televised on ESPN2.

Iowa fans are traveling to Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium for the inagrual game between these two Big Ten programs. Iowa sold out their ticket allotment for the game.

The Terrapins are coming off a bye week, but have lost back to back home games this season. The Terrapins have lost four straight conference games, dating back to the last three ACC games plus the opening conference home loss to Ohio State prior the bye week.

How will the bye week help Maryland, as Iowa arrives for the Terrapins for their Homecoming Game?

"It was very refreshing," said Maryland six-year senior quarterback C.J. Brown reflecting on bye week ahead of Iowa game. "Especially to get away from the contact and just kind of rest your mind, even if it's for two or three days. It was very beneficially to the team and myself."

Maryland fourth-year head coach Randy Edsall reflected on his team's bye week, ahead of the game with Iowa in week 7 of the college football season. "Again, I thought the bye week came at a good time for us. We were able to get some rest for our guys and get some of those bumps and bruises taken care of. We were able to take a look at ourselves and our tendencies and see what we were doing and what people were seeing out of us. We were able to get out on the practice field and have the opportunity to get a jump-start on Iowa. I thought the bye week was productive for us in all those ways. Hopefully that will bear out on Saturday."

Could we see another high scoring game, evolving Iowa, after the Hawkeyes 45-29 win last Saturday in Iowa City?

This season, Maryland has posted at least 24 points in all six games played. It is the first time in program history a Terrapin offense has scored 24 or more points in its first six games. The Terps are averaging 34.7 points per contest, tied for the fourth-highest total in the Big Ten. In addition, Maryland has totaled 25 plays of 20 or more yards this season including eight against Indiana on Sept. 27. Of the 25 plays that have gone for 20 or more yards, 10 have been scoring plays.

Iowa has scored 24 points in the two road wins at Pittsburgh and in the Big Ten opener at Purdue. The Hawkeyes followed up those two wins with 45 points vs. Indiana, in Iowa's Homecoming victory in 2014. Now, back on the road in College Park, the Hawkeyes are simply looking for a way to win.

"They made a lot of big plays against Indiana, Edsall said. "They hit a post over the top, they got a pick six; they did a lot of good things. They got a big run by one of their freshman (Jonathan Parker) so again they have some big play capabilities there. They'll hit you with all kinds of different looks; they hit you with 21 personnel, 12 personnel, 22, 11. Again, they're well coached, they know what they want to do and they're going to do it. What you have to do is you've got to stop them."

Will big plays, explosive plays, make the biggest impact in today's Iowa at Maryland game? Of course, turnovers and special teams likely will figure into today's game, as well.

Generally, Iowa likes a grind out, establish the run, physical game, won in the trenches, as opposed to offensive dominated games that Maryland has enjoyed headlined quality receiving corp led by junior wide receiver Stefon Diggs with 36 catches and 450 receiving yards.

Edsall said, "tough game this week against a really good football team in Iowa. As you watch Iowa on tape, they are a team that is very sound in what they do scheme-wise. They are very well coached. You can tell that Kirk's [Ferentz] has been there for 16 years. He's got things going the way he wants and their team plays hard and physical. They are very good fundamentally and from a technique standpoint. They have good players. We are looking forward to the opportunity Saturday."

Defense is an important phase of the game today.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz called the Terrapins a "good defensive football team." Like Iowa, "They're a physical group. Their linebackers, they've got a bunch of them and they're all kind of the same size, but they're all strong, physical guys. They're disruptive up front. The one guy, the linebacker is really more of a defensive end, but he's made a lot of tackles for losses and sacks. So they're not I wouldn't call them overly fancy. They do some things on third down. They've got a good package. Their guys really know the package, and they play hard within the scheme, and that's what good defenses do. They know what they're doing, and they're pretty aggressive. They're a tough match up for us."

Maryland's run defense could play a big role today. Edsall reflected on the Maryland run defense ahead of today's Iowa game.

"Usually when you give up yards it's because people aren't executing, guys aren't fulfilling their responsibilities the way you need to. It might be a guy missing a gap here; it might be a guy missing a tackle there. It's a combination of everybody not doing the things that you need them to do. Those are the things that we've been working on, getting everybody to understand what their job is and getting them to continue to do their job. If you can get everybody doing their job and doing it to the best of their ability you have a lot more opportunities for success. Again, guys are working hard. Guys are really working hard. They want to be good, they want to do things the right way, and they don't like giving up the yards. But I think the one thing, other than the last game we played, we found a way to keep people out of the end zone. That's what we have to continue to do and we have to continue as a coaching staff to take a look at who we are and who we have and put together the best plan we can to take advantage of the skillset because we've had some guys out due to some injuries."

Will Iowa have to continue to rely on fourth down plays today? Iowa is nine of 12 on fourth downs, through the first half of the 2014 season. All nine first downs have led to points. Special teams has been completely revamped with new personnel in 2014.

Ferentz reflrected on the fourth down success, by saying, "some of it is by design, some of it is by feel. The guys are doing a good job, they really are. We're trying to be smart about when we calculate and pull the trigger and go ahead and go forward or try to take a field goal or whatever it may be. But the bottom line is our players are doing a good job of executing. I think if you combine that with third down, we're a little bit of mature numbers last year, but it feels a little better right now for sure."

Iowa is typically stout against the run, but in the season opener against Northern Iowa, the Panthers talented running back hurt Iowa's defense for over 200 yards receiving and explosive plays. The Iowa back 7 will be tested today, so the front 4 will have to play extremely well, which is the strength of the Iowa defense.

Of Maryland’s 12 touchdown passes this season, three have gone to running backs. Junior RB Brandon Ross has caught two including a 36-yarder against IU after catching a 90-yarder at Syracuse, the Terps’ longest play from scrimmage.

Iowa needs the defense to step up, if they are going to overcome the 4.5 point underdog role they face in College Park vs. Maryland. The Hawkeyes have been successful at 6-1 over the past season and a half, in true road games. Maryland has lost two straight this season, and five of last seven home games.

The formula for success is typically:

1. Establishing the line of scrimmage, so which team wins the game in the trenches? Iowa - Maryland will be a physical game.

2. Explosive plays - defenses will seek to hold them down, as offenses seek to attack, while staying ahead of the sticks on first and second down.

3. Turnovers are always an important aspect of any game, especially in conference play. This will be an important element today.

4. Special teams favors Maryland on experience, but Iowa can't afford to let down in this phase or any phase, if they are going to win their third straight road game, as well as third straight B1G game in 2014.

5. Coaching staff: Ferentz and Edsall have a lot of respect for one another, as each coach has ties to UConn. Ferentz's is an alumnus and former linebacker, while Edsall elevated the program from FCS to the FBS level, as a former head coach there.

Our Pick: Iowa 24, Maryland 18 - Iowa takes the big play away and establishes the line of scrimmage turning this one into a grind out, game in the trenches. An explosive game favors the home team.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Iowa beats Indiana 45-29 to take a 2-0 B1G West lead, with Minnesota

Iowa City, IA - - The Iowa Hawkeyes (5-1, 2-0 B1G West) join the Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-1, 2-0 B1G West 2-0) with the early lead in the Big Ten West Division, with the Hawkeyes 45-29 win over Indiana at Kinnick Stadium on Homecoming. Floyd of Rosedale is smiling today in Iowa City, as the Hawkeyes and Gophers take an early lead in the Division.

Like the 2012 game at Indiana, Iowa took an early 14-0 lead fueled by a pick 6, but this time around Iowa pulled out the win with a 28-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, 38-21 at the half. After all the offense in the first half, neither team scored in the third quarter. Iowa scored seven early in the fourth, with IU finishing out with eight points to end the fireworks on Iowa's Homecoming Game on ESPNU.

It was a roller coaster for Hawkeye fans, as explosive plays roared for both teams. Iowa intercepted three passes against the Hoosiers, survived a couple onside kicks in the first half. In the later part of the second quarter, Iowa's defense knocked the Hoosiers quarterback Nate Sudfeld out of the game, with a sack by Carl Davis and Drew Ott.

Sudfeld finished 4-of-9 for 85 yards with a touchdown and interception before leaving the game early in the second quarter. His replacement, true freshman Chad Covington was 3-of-12 for 31 yards with two interceptions for the Hoosiers.

The Hawkeyes head to Maryland (4-2, 1-1 B1G East) next Saturday for an 11 a.m. kickoff on ESPN2. The Terrapins were idle this week, ahead of their own Homecoming hosting the Hawkeyes.

Indiana (3-3, 0-2 B1G East) will head home to Bloomington for a game against defending B1G champ, Michigan State. Minnesota took care of Northwestern (3-3, 2-1 B1G West) 24-17 at home, fueled by a 100-yard kickoff return to close the game out.

Minnesota hosts Purdue next Saturday for Homecoming in back to back home games, while Northwestern returns to Evanston next Saturday to host Nebraska (5-1, 1-1 B1G West ) for their own Homecoming. The Cornhuskers are enjoying a bye week.

The Hawkeyes scored a season-high 45 points. It is the most points scored by Iowa in a Big Ten game since scoring 45 against Indiana in 2011.

The Hawkeyes are 2-0 in the Big Ten for the fifth time under Kirk Ferentz (2002, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014).

The teams combined to score 74 points, the most total points since Indiana defeated Iowa 45-33 in 2000 in Bloomington.

Iowa led 38-21 at the half. Five different players scored a touchdown (Duzey, King, Powell, Parker, Weisman) and K Marshall Koehn added a 22-yard field goal and five extra points.

Iowa scored 28 points in the first quarter, the most points scored in the first quarter since scoring 28 against Ball State on Sept. 3, 2005.

Iowa scored 38 first-half points, tying the most first-half points in a conference game under Kirk Ferentz (Minnesota, 2005). It is Iowa's highest scoring first half in a Big Ten game since scoring 35 against Indiana in 2011.

Iowa scored 14 points off turnovers, its first such points this season. CB Desmond King returned an interception for a touchdown in the first quarter. RB Mark Weisman scored a rushing touchdown in the second quarter following LB Bo Bower'sinterception.

Iowa scored two offensive touchdowns of 60 yards or greater for the first time since Oct. 31, 2009 vs. Indiana. (Stanzi to McNutt, 92 yards; Stanzi to Johnson-Koulianos, 66 yards).

Iowa scored on three straight offensive plays in the first quarter. TE Jake Duzey caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from QBJake Rudock with 4:41 left. On Iowa's next play from scrimmage, WR Damond Powell caught a 72-yard touchdown pass from Rudock. On Iowa's next play from scrimmage, RB Jonathan Parker ran for a 60-yard touchdown.

After scoring 59 combined points in the first half, the teams were scoreless in the third quarter.

Iowa's defense held Indiana 20 total yards and one first down in the quarter. Iowa held Indiana to four first downs in the second half and 2-of-15 on third down attempts in the game. The Hawkeyes forced eight 3-and-outs.

Ten different Hawkeyes caught a pass today. It is the fourth time this season at least 10 Hawkeyes recorded a reception. Iowa is 4-0 in those games.

Indiana running back Tevin Coleman recorded his eighth straight 100-yard game, the longest streak in the nation and the 10th overall in his career, with 219 yards on 15 carries (14.6 average) and 83, 69 and 45-yard touchdowns. He extended his Indiana record by scoring a TD in his 15th straight game, which is also the longest streak in the nation, has six career multi-score games and matched his career-high with three scores.

Indiana senior wide receiver Nick Stoner pulled in a 13-yard touchdown in the second quarter, his first of 2014 and the second of his career.

Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson's postgame comments, after loss at Iowa.

Coach Wilson's Opening Statement:
"Iowa played very well today. They got after us and got a good win. We had a couple opportunities early. They made more big plays than us. The game stats were kind of close, but they had more big plays than us. We played uphill all day. I thought our kids fought hard out there, but we have to do better."

Q: What happened to your quarterback (Nate Sudfeld)?

"His left shoulder got landed on. It's some degree of a separation and we'll evaluate it when we get back. I don't know if it's short or long term."

Q: How much did Nate's injury limit your offense?

"It limited some things with throwing, but it opened up some things because of his ability to run. It's tough because both those guys (Sudfeld and Covington) are different. Chris is young compared to Nate, so as you practice there are certain plays in which you decide work or won't work. You don't want to practice a completely different technical offense for a backup quarterback because your right guard is getting those plays, and if your right guard is playing with your starting quarterback, then he doesn't get those plays. You try to blend those two together. We're very excited about Chris and we think he'll be a very good player for us."

There were a lot of big plays made today, but how much did Shane's drop in the end zone change the game?
"It changed it a little bit. When Iowa had a chance to make a big play, they did. They had some nice conversions to keep drives alive and we didn't. Bottom line, they made a lot more plays than we did. We had our chances, but we didn't execute. They made more big plays than us and that's the difference in the final score."

Q: Did Iowa do anything offensively that surprised you?

Not really. They do what they do. If you blitz one way, they're going to check away from it. If you're in soft coverage, they're going to run quick hitches. They did a good job on third down. They had a couple different personnel things, but the core of what they did was consistent with what they have done all year long.

Kirk Ferentz Post Game Q&A after the 45-29 Iowa win over Indiana.

Certainly we're thrilled to get the victory today. I'm proud of the guys. They played hard. Good effort.

Indiana is a good football team as well. We knew that coming in. They played extremely hard. A good football game. A little bit unusual football game, different than we're used to being in, especially that first half. The swarm guys did a lot of good things. The biggest thing is they finished up with the victory. So we're happy about that and we'll move on tomorrow.

Q. Fourth and one, snapped the ball. Looked like you were going to the left side, then to the right. Did you change the play there (end of first half)?

COACH FERENTZ: We did. They got a good look at it. Good timing on their part. We just decided to change.

Q. Looked like you converted Tommy Gaul to the center?

COACH FERENTZ: That's one of the good stories today for sure. We talk about next man in all the time and I just said on the radio last Friday night, I was standing at a high school game with Tommy. He could run for office. Everybody loves him there. Tremendous young guy.

His character really showed up today. He's been practicing well. And Jordan came out early and so we just shifted Austin out and put Tommy in there. He did a really nice job.

Cidsports: Different circumstances in 1981 at Michigan, but senior Bill Bailey emerged that day to fill the void at center. Iowa needed Tommy Gaul, after right guard Jordan Walsh went down, with an ankle injury.

Q. Momentum wise, everyone gave you a lift after halftime?

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, just the way the game was going. They would hit three really big plays on us in that first half. So looked like we were going to need points.

And it didn't affect field position. It was the end of the half. We have faith in our guys. We wanted to play aggressively at that point.

Q. Where did that play come from, from upstairs, the switching sides?

COACH FERENTZ: All the coaches are in communication on that. They saw the play. We felt it was best to change it.

Q. A plan on the quarterback for the whole game or just kind of a feel?

COACH FERENTZ: We had a couple of plans. And one of the scenarios we forgot to cover is what unfolded today. It was just a wild game. Weird game.

You play things by feel. And nothing's really changed. We like both guys.

Q. First half, looked like you were playing basketball?

COACH FERENTZ: Basketball or arena ball. I couldn't make up my mind. We're the birthplace of arena football. Probably appropriate today.

I'm not fond of a scoring contest that's for sure but, boy, looked like it had the chance to be one.

Q. Jake played for quite a while, pretty sharp out there. Did it surprise you how sharp he was?

COACH FERENTZ: No, he's been practicing well. So we thought he'd play well and we thought C.J. would play well also.

Q. You see this team finally get off to such a great start. How did that all come together and how nice was that to see?

COACH FERENTZ: We made some big plays which is obviously helpful. Not just offensively. But Desmond coming up with that pick six, got a good jump on that ball and then finished it.

Next thing you know there's a spark or two and good to go. And we didn't quite finish the way we wanted to at the end of the game. They played hard. It was good to get off to a fast start. We haven't done that in a while for sure.

Q. Big picture, you called one timeout when you had ten men on the field, one time you had 12 on the field and two onside kicks. How disappointed were you?

COACH FERENTZ: There's going to be a ton of things to talk about tomorrow. The ones you pointed out, burned two timeouts for really dumb things. Those are things that are going to cost you games at some point.

The onside kick they did one last week too. We might have talked about it, covered it a couple this time. But you'd never know it watching us play.

That's just bad coaching on our part. And it reminded of Bill Parcells as a young coach. I think it was at Hastings College. Hey, coach, I covered that 43 times with the guy this week. And the head coach told him you better do it 44. That's kind of what it looked like a little bit. We'll have to get some of that stuff corrected.

Q. Jonathan Parker has been a big play guy. Even without the ball. At Purdue, didn't give it to him maybe three times. It affected the play. To give it to him on that jet sweep, not only the way he performed, but also your blocking. I think Jacob Hillyer and Jake Duzey did a really good job.

COACH FERENTZ: There was a headline I saw somewhere that suggested we hadn't lost faith or are getting faith back in him. Just for the record, he had two tough plays in that Ball State game but I don't think anybody was ever down on Jonathan I want to make sure that I clarify this: He really practiced well last December when we were getting ready for the bowl. That's when we saw him start to come.

And I thought he had a really good spring. Good camp. So when you've got a young guy out there, a guy who hasn't played, he's going to go through some tough times. Two like that, probably not desirable. But it happens.

It just wasn't for a lack of trying or concentration. So we're staying with them just because he's been working so hard and doing good things in practice. And that's all you can evaluate.

So it's hard to get down on anybody that is doing things day-after-day in a good fashion. So I think he's trying to help our football team. I'm really happy about that.

Conversely, some of the mistakes that were pointed out and some of the things that you see that are the result of somebody maybe not being as consistent with their effort and their commitment to getting better.

Those are a little bit frustrating, and those probably have to be addressed a little bit better by me. So we'll have to do a little better job on that front.

But going back to JP, he's just been working hard. He's really carrying himself like a winning football player and it's really fun to watch that.

Q. The blocks they had from Hillyer, blocked two guys on that.

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, those guys are doing a good job. That's part of that little package, if you will. And the guy's done a good job in practice on that, too, so it was good to see.

Q. In the fourth quarter you rode Weisman to control and shut the door?

COACH FERENTZ: Even the next to last series there we came up short on third down, it was third and whatever it was. Short of the first.

We ate up some clock and changed field position a little bit in that possession, and then certainly the last one to finish the game that way.

The guys up front, tight ends doing a good job, and fullback also. And Mark running really tough out there. That's something he's really good at.

Q. Indiana got those signature big plays. But what did you think about your defense's ability to kind of shrug those off?

COACH FERENTZ: I guess it's - thank you. You gave me a positive spin. I can use it tomorrow a little bit because I was looking for one.

But it's interesting coming into this game. Nobody's held them to under 200 yards rushing in a game.

I looked at that stat and I just found that kind of hard to believe, with all due respect. But we witnessed it firsthand. They worked us pretty good.

Those three runs that Coleman had were outstanding runs. I said during the week, all their backs are good. And they are, they're all good, but he's really good. You get on the field live with a guy and you really find out what he's like and what he's all about.

I can't remember anyone doing that to us, and I'm including us against ourselves in spring practice, August, we've had some good backs here, Fred Russell, Shonn Greene, Albert Young. It's a little scary. We'll face more good backs. We have to get better stopping that run.

Q. Tevaun Smith really seems to be a big play receiver for you. Caught one huge third down pass, they interfered with him a couple times trying to go deep.

COACH FERENTZ: Same comments as Jonathan Parker. Tevaun has been working hard. And we made the decision, ironically, I think it was this ballgame in 2012 I think it was the first game we played him.

Kind of like Drew Ott, which we made the decision to throw him in the water, get him swimming, see if we can't expedite the process.

I think both players, Drew and Tevaun, have grown into good football players since that time. They work hard in practice. And they do a lot of good things and they're really committed to being good football players here.

So it's fun to watch them have some success out there, make some plays and do good things to help us.

Q. You have a lot of dimensions with him?

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, it's nice to have a guy who can make some plays out there.

Q. Update on Willies?

COACH FERENTZ: We lost two guys during the week. Derrick since Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Derrick and Boone Myers, didn't dress either of them. I think we're hopeful to have them both next week. Probably know more tomorrow and know more Tuesday when we talk.

Q. Offensively did you see and sense that this team grew up a lot over the last couple of weeks?

COACH FERENTZ: We're making progress. The other part about today is clearly we've got a lot more to make and we better do it fast, because we got a peek at Maryland in preparation for this ballgame.

They've got a good team too. And one thing I remember from our summer is I think they got about 23 starters back. Is that possible? Basically have their whole team back from last year.

That will be a challenge. We've got to keep growing. And we just have a week to worry about it. And just like today was a weird day, we've got a weird schedule with another bye week coming up. All or nothing here for the next seven days including tomorrow.

Q. How much does it Gaul benefit being a fifth year senior really seemed like experience really helped him?

COACH FERENTZ: It helps. There's a lot to be said for experience, especially with linemen. Experience is only good if you make it a positive. And he's done that.

Like I said earlier, he works hard every day. He shows up. And you forget, it's funny, when he's with everybody, he just looks like another guy.

When I was with him at that high school game a week ago, just me and him standing there, realized he's a big guy. No shrimp by any stretch.

But importantly he prepares every day, has a great attitude. Teammates love the guy. They singled him here out after the post game. It's fun when you see things like that and you can feel really good about what he did to help us win today.

Q. Do you know the extent of Jordan Walsh's injury?

COACH FERENTZ: It's an ankle. I don't think anything too bad. Can he play next week? We'll probably know more tomorrow, or maybe Monday and Tuesday.

Q. Looked like a tremendous play from Desmond King, almost reading the quarterback, baiting him, and the catch he made. Shown a lot of growth.

COACH FERENTZ: It was a good play. I just happened to be standing right there. Could almost hear the wheels grinding up there, like he read it out, and made a nice break. He's got good hands.

Ironically, the other day at practice, I looked across the field, saw him catch one with his right hand. I teased him, and I said showboating or what? He said no, the receiver had his left hand pinned down so he snatched it with his right hand.

Desmond's a good football player. For a young guy he's doing a lot of good things out there. And he has potential to grow. It's exciting.

Q. When Indiana cut it down to seven, you guys were able to get a couple of big stops, got the interception from Bo. Turned the tide before the half. How important was that?

COACH FERENTZ: It was important. They're a team that makes you really nervous. Nervous from the start of the game to the end of the game.

I'm hoping their quarterback's okay. But they're just a dangerous team. It's a unique attack. It's a high tempo attack. And if you drop your guard, they do a good job of finding you and they made us pay a couple times today.

So to stop things a little bit and for us to turn it into a positive right before the half was really important. Because I was not relaxed at any time today because they don't let you.

Q. About setting the edge, was it the plays or lack of play from the linebackers?

COACH FERENTZ: I'll have to see the film. But looked like a little bit of each to me. If you let them get started, he knows how to get started and then finish. He does it really quickly. I think we'll probably see some things where we didn't take blocks on as well, stepping underneath blocks at times and things like that. You drop your fundamentals, bad things will happen. And a player like that will really make you pay in a bad way. That's the danger of playing a guy that good.

Q. How do you feel overall, you're 5-1, learning lessons with wins which is better than the alternative?

COACH FERENTZ: I would feel better if we were 6-0. Not realistic at this point. That's yesterday's news. We'll push ahead.

We'll enjoy this game today. Tonight we're feeling good about that, because bottom line is we won a Big Ten football game. We won here. And that's important.

Tomorrow we'll correct and then we have a week to get better. As long as we're moving forward, that's the biggest thing. And I think for the most part we are, and we'll have to because we've got six tough ball games left now and you guys have seen it.

I had a chance to watch football last Saturday. Conference football is always interesting. I'm chuckling right now about some of the predictions for the Final Four yesterday or two days ago.

I'll predict it will look different a month from now, certainly maybe three weeks from now. A lot of football left and it's about getting better and improving. If your team's doing that, then you have a chance. If not, you aren't going to be in good shape.

Q. Did you find any clarity at quarterback, or is that more look at the film and then?

COACH FERENTZ: No, just again, it was a weird deal the way things went. But the only thing I walk away feeling about like I did coming in here. That's one position where I think we have two guys we can win with. And that's a really good thing.

Q. Looking at both playing next week?

COACH FERENTZ: We'll see. We'll cross that bridge when we get there. If we do, I'll feel good about it. I like the way Jake and C.J. work. They practice well.

They're invested. And I talked about some guys earlier, they're the same way. Maybe at the front of the class there. If your quarterbacks aren't, you're in trouble there. So it's really good, and the good news, too, we got to work Wiegers last week during the bye week when Jake was still resting. Have a positive there with Jake sitting out a little bit, gave the other guy a chance to run our offense. He got better as well.

Q. Damond Powell the primary receiver on that route?

COACH FERENTZ: On that one, yeah.

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