Saturday, September 19, 2015

Iowa (2-0) vs. Pittsburgh (2-0) - The Fifth Big Ten vs. ACC Football game on Saturday

Iowa City, IA -- The Iowa Hawkeyes (2-0) will host their first night game at Kinnick Stadium, since they hosted Penn State during the 2012 Big Ten season, as the Pittsburgh Panthers (2-0) come to Iowa City for a 7 p.m. kickoff on the Big Ten Network.

Close calls and fourth-quarter drama have ruled recent Pitt-Iowa series history. In the past three meetings, the average margin of victory has been three points. The Hawkeyes rallied from double-digit deficits to win each of the past two games, 31-27 in 2011 and 24-20 in 2014. The Panthers won in 2008, 21-20.

Tyler Boyd had 11 catches in Pitt's victory at Akron.
Pitt junior WR 23 Tyler Boyd
is back, after a solid performance,
10 catches for 153 yards,
in last year's Iowa-Pitt game.
The Panthers are seeking a 3-0 start for the second consecutive year and fourth time since 2000. Pitt previously opened a season with three victories in 2000, 2009 and 2014. Those quick starts ultimately resulted in bowl invitations in each of those years.

The Hawkeyes have not opened with a 3-0 start, since the 9-0 start, during the 2009 season, under coach Kirk Ferentz, who is entering his seventeenth season as head coach at Iowa. On the flip side, Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi is entering his third game as head coach for the Panthers. As a former defensive coordinator at Michigan State, Narduzzi was 3-4 vs. Iowa from 2007-2013. The Hawkeyes and Spartans didn't play in 2014.

This is the seventh game in the series, that is tied 3-3. The rubber match will take place in prime-time in Iowa City at historic Kinnick Stadium, as Pitt coach Narduzzi spoke about the upcoming match against the Hawkeyes. On Big Ten Network, Joe Beninati on play-by-play and Chuck Long, as analyst.

We have a big road game, with a crazy atmosphere, out at the University of Iowa. I don’t believe I’ve ever played at night there so I can imagine that it’s going to be a good atmosphere for our kids and theirs. We told our guys yesterday that preseason is over. This is a big time for us to find out what we have. Our guys are going to prepare a little bit more every week as we go on. The games get a little bit bigger and we’ll be 2-0 going out to Iowa City. It’s going to be a big ball game,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi shared on Monday.

On Iowa coach and Pittsburgh native Kirk Ferentz, Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi:

Kirk Ferentz is an offensive-minded coach. He’s an O-line guru and a tremendous football coach. [Iowa] will be known for their toughness and like us, will be known as a blue-collared tough football team. It will be a tough football team up front. They have a lot of [alumni] playing in the NFL, seems like they have a first-rounder every year. They’re going to be a tough football team. We have to be ready.”

Since 1999, Kirk Ferentz's first year as Iowa head coach, the Hawkeyes have had a future NFL player start on the offensive line in every season. In each of the last eight years, an eventual NFL first-round draft pick started on the offensive line. Brandon Scherff, selected by the Washington Redskins fifth overall in 2015, was Iowa's left tackle from 2012-14. 

Riley Reiff, selected 23rd overall by the Detroit Lions in 2012, started at left tackle from 2010-11. Bryan Bulaga, selected 23rd overall by the Green Bay Packers in 2010, started at left guard in 2007 before moving to left tackle in 2008-09. From 2005-06, Baltimore Ravens All-Pro Marshal Yanda shared time at tackle and guard for the Hawkeyes. Mike Elgin, a seventh round selection of New England, was Iowa's starting center in 2004. Pete McMahon, drafted by Oakland in 2005, was Iowa's right guard in 2003. Oakland's first round pick in 2004, Robert Gallery, was Iowa's left tackle from 2001-03. Eric Steinbach (Cincinnati) started at guard for Iowa from 2000-02, and Bruce Nelson (Carolina) was a four-year starter from 1999-02. Both players were second round draft picks in 2003.

Iowa junior 89 Matt VandeBerg
caught a 44 yarder last year at Pitt.
He had career day in the ISU win

last week on the road.

On if he’s curious to see how his team matches up with a Power-5 team in Iowa, Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi shared:

A 13 yard TD pass to make it 7-7 
in the first quarter at Pitt in '14.
Iowa senior TE 80 Henry Krieger
Coble scored the Hawkeyes' first
TD in the 24-20 win at Pitt.
Of course. Every coach is. Like I told the kids last night, they don’t care what you did last week. Even if you beat USC last weekend, they don’t care what you did last time or the week before. We only care about next Saturday. That’s all we care about. That’s all I really care about. I don’t care how many sacks you had. I want to know how many sacks you’re going to have this week or how many touchdown passes. You get more curious every week how we’re going to react on the field in a big-time atmosphere on national TV. It’ll certainly be interesting. Again, you can get beat at any second, so you better come ready. Arkansas saw that this week with Toledo and Maryland saw that this week with Bowling Green. We could’ve seen it, but we came ready to play and our guys played a darn good ball game. We can say it’s easy, but it isn’t easy. Every game is a battle.”

Iowa junior QB 16 C.J. Beahard
leading the Hawkeyes 2nd half
come back victory at Pitt in 2014.
Iowa is facing it's second Power 5 out-of-conference opponent, after winning at Iowa State, 31-17, in Ames last weekend. The Hawkeyes return to Kinnick Stadium, with the first of four trophies in hand, that Iowa will compete for in rivalry games in 2015. Pitt is playing their first Power 5 opponent for 2015, after a 24-7 road win at Akron.

Two 2-0 teams, from Power 5 conferences, in the final of five ACC vs. Big Ten match ups in Week 3 of the 2015 College Football season.

Last year, Pitt junior QB 16 Chad
Voytik lead the Panthers, but this
season, new OC Jim Chaney has
two QBs he is considering for today.

A look at the Quaterbacks in Iowa-Pitt game:
Last year, Iowa played two quarterbacks at Pitt, after starter Jake Rudock was injured at the end of the first half.  C.J. Beathard led the University of Iowa football team on three second-half scoring drives to rally the Hawkeyes from a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat Pittsburgh, 24-20, at Heinz Field. He hit seven of eight passes for 98 yards.

Now, a junior and #1 QB for Iowa, Beathard improved to 3-0 in his career as a starter. He is 1-0 at home, and 2-0 on the road (Purdue, 2014; Iowa State, 2015). He was 15-of-25 for 215 yards passing and a career high three touchdown at ISU, last week. He rushed 10 times for 77 yards. The 10 rushing attempts was a career high. Senior transfer Jake Rudock is leading the Michigan Wolverines against UNLV in the Big House today.

Pitt junior transfer QB 4 Nate Peterman
running the ball in 24-7 win at Akron.
Pittsburgh has two junior quarterbacks at OC Jim Chaney's disposal. Junior Chad Voytik lead Pitt in 2014, but junior graduate transfer Nate Peterman, left Tennessee, where he started one game and figures into the rotation for the Panthers this week, at Iowa.

On if he hopes a quarterback will separate himself:

Yes, you always hope for that. I think both of those guys are pretty equal back there. We’ll find out in the heat of the battle,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi shared on Monday during his press conference.

Iowa has been very balanced running and passing the ball, after the first two games in 2015.
Iowa senior RB 33 Jordan Canzeri
started last year's game and enters
the starting lineup tonight vs. Pitt.

The Hawkeyes offense at Iowa State, Iowa senior RB Jordan Canzeri had another career game, with a career-high 24 times for 124 yards and a touchdown. He scored from eight yards on Iowa's final scoring drive. It was his fourth career rushing touchdown and second this season. Canzeri had had over 100 all-purpose yards for the second straight week.

Iowa junior WR Matt VandeBerg has scored a touchdown in three straight games. He caught touchdowns against Tennessee and Illinois State, and returned a fumble three yards today for a touchdown. VandeBerg played 22 career games before catching his first touchdown. He had career highs in receptions (9) and yards (114). His 47-yard reception in the fourth quarter was a career long.
Iowa senior PK 1 Marshall
Koehn hit a career long
52 yard field goal near
the end of the 3rd quarter
at Pitt last season to pull
Iowa to a 20-17 deficit.

Iowa Junior WR Riley McCarron's first catch of the season was a 25-yard, eventual game-winning touchdown at Iowa State. It was his first career touchdown. Iowa's #1 WR, senior Tevaun Smith, also had a touchdown against ISU. It will be interesting to see how the Iowa passing game figures in the Iowa-Pitt game. 

Senior TE Henry Krieger Coble had a career best 34 yards receiving. He scored a TD reception, in last year's game at Pitt. Redshirt freshman TE Jameer Outsey made his first career start last week at ISU. Junior TE George Kittle played last week and is expected to play more coming off a knee injury in the season opener against Illinois State.

Iowa senior PK Marshall Koehn has connected on five consecutive field goal attempts over the last five games. Koehn is 5-of-6 in his career on field goals 40-plus yards. He hit a career long 52 yard field goal at Pitt.

Pittsburgh OC Jim Chaney is a former Big Ten coordinator, like his head coach. He was at Purdue from 1997 to 2005. Also, like his head coach, he had a 3-4 record against Iowa, against Hayden Fry and during the early Kirk Ferentz era.

Unlike Iowa's #1 running back junior LeShun Daniels, Jr., who suffered an ankle injury at Iowa State last week; Pittsburgh lost junior starting RB James Connor for the season, to a knee injury in Week 1.

On Pitt freshman RB Qadree Ollison’s first game as a starter, last week against Akron, coach Pat Narduzzi said:

Pitt true freshman RB 22 Darrin Hall
scored a TD last week at Akron.
He was good. He could’ve been better, like a lot of us. I probably could’ve been better, too. I think he was a little sore, though. Qadree was good. Was he great? No. He missed some things. Darrin Hall came in and played pretty solid, too. It’s his first start, too. It’s always easy coming in as a reliever, don’t forget that. It takes a little bit of pressure off of you when you’re not the guy starting. Qadree came in being the guy with maybe a little bit more pressure on him than he wanted or we wanted, but he’ll step up. You could say that the Youngstown game was his first game. He came in and didn’t have any time to think about being the guy. He had no idea he was going to be the guy. Now that he has an idea he’s the guy, we’ll see how he responds in week two.”

The Pittsburgh Panthers are lead in the passing game by junior WR Tyler Boyd and senior TE J.P. Holtz. The running backs likely will be an option in the Panthers passing attack, as well, as each of the running backs have caught passes.

Kirk Ferentz is in his 20th year as a college head coach and his 17th year as Iowa's head coach. His career record is 129-106 and he is 117-85 at Iowa. He is the 12th Big Ten Conference coach to win 100 games.

Pat Narduzzi is in his first year as a college head coach, with a record of 2-0. He most recently was the defensive coordinator at Michigan State for eight seasons (2007-14), and has also been an assistant coach at Rhode Island, Northern Illinois, Miami, Ohio, and Cincinnati.

Tyrique Jarrett had a career-high three TFLs against Akron
Pitt junior NT Tyrique Jarrett
anchors the Panthers defensive
line with 1 sack, 3 TFL.
The Panthers return seven starters from the 2014 6-7 team, lead by now Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst. The strength of the unit may be the secondary for the Panthers.

Senior SLB Nicholas Grigsby leads the Panthers in tackles and two sacks on the young season. Junior MLB Matt Galambos is second in tackles for the Panthers thus far in 2015.

This should be a physical game, as Narduzzi is known for solid run defense and winning at the line of scrimmage.

Special teams could be very important in this game. Pittsburgh's junior PK Chris Biewitt has missed two field goals, in four attempts this season. He is in his third season as the placekicker. Sophomore punter Ryan Winslow returns for 2015 and is averaging just under 40 yards a punt.

Iowa's defense is lead by senior DE Drew Ott, who has two sacks on the season, but suffered a dislocated elbow at Iowa State in the first quarter. It will be interesting to see how the Pittsburgh offense attacks Ott's replacement. Iowa will likely see redshirt freshman Parker Hesse forced into action again. Hesse has one sack on the season.

Iowa's defensive line will be lead by DEs senior 34 Nate Meier, redshirt freshman
40 Parker Hesse and junior DT 67 Jaleel Johnson. Iowa's other DT is sophomore
99 Nathan Bazata. The Hawkeyes will be tested by a Pittsburgh O-Line.
The Iowa defense are off to a strong start in 2015, but the unit isn't basking in its success. The Hawkeyes have surrendered 98 rushing yards and no touchdowns through the first two games. Iowa is allowing 1.78 yards per carry to rank 10th nationally, and the Hawkeyes have the No. 8 rushing defense in the country, giving up 49 yards per game.

"(Defensive coordinator) Phil Parker and defensive line coach Reese Morgan say never to become complacent," said Johnson. "We have another opponent coming up."

"Pitt has a big, aggressive offensive line and both guards are back. If we play like we did at Iowa State, we should be good up front."

On Pitt’s pass protection:
We have a lot of guys rotating in there. We have to protect the quarterback, obviously, better than we did [on Saturday]. Like I said, they [Akron] had two very good defensive ends that are athletic and physical. We just have to continue to understand what someone is doing to us. We have to change some of our sets. We can’t just rely on the same set every time. That’s something the young guys are going to have to learn how to do, and they will,” as Pitt coach Narduzzi talked ahead of the Iowa game.
The Iowa offensive line is anchored by senior C 63 Austin Blythe. The Iowa offense
is lead by junior QB 16 C.J. Beathard, as the Pitt middle defense is lead by
junior MLB 47 Matt Galambos. It is a 7 p.m. kickoff on the Big Ten Network.
Look for another close game in the Iowa-Pitt series on Saturday night. 

Our pick: Iowa 27, Pittsburgh 24.

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