Saturday, September 30, 2017

GameDay: Iowa (3-1, 0-1) @ Michigan State (2-1)

East Lansing, MI --- The Iowa Hawkeyes (0-1 B1G) travel to East Lansing for the first time, since 2012, to face the Michigan State Spartans, in a West vs. East showdown. The Hawkeyes last played the Spartans to close the 2015 Big Ten season, in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis.

This series has been a close one. Since Mark Dantonio, became the Spartans head coach, in 2007, the series is tied 4-4. Since the dean of college football, Kirk Ferentz became Iowa's coach, in 1999, the series is tied 7-7. The Hawkeyes are 7-5-1, since 1982, up in East Lansing.

The last game played in this series, the 2015 Big Ten Championship
Game came down to the last series,as the Spartans, pulled out a 15-13
slug-fest in Indianapolis to clinch the Big Ten title and a date in the
College Football Playoff.
Most games often come down to one series or even one play, as the 2009, walk off touchdown by Iowa. We have seen games in overtime, including the 2007 game that first pit each head coach; and the last game played in East Lansing.

Our prediction today, in East Lansing ... another close one!

  • Iowa 22
  • Michigan State 18

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Big Ten Football opener: Penn State @ Iowa from Kinnick Stadium

Iowa City, IA -- The Iowa Hawkeyes (3-0) host the defending Big Ten champion, Penn State Nittany Lions (3-0) in the Big Ten opener at Kinnick Stadium for the 2017 College Football season. The Nittany Lions are a 12-1/2 point favorite on the road.

ANF Spirit Day at Kinnick Stadium

Last year, it was all Penn State, when the Nittany Lions took down Iowa 41-14 in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions have won nine straight games against Big Ten opponents, after losing last year's conference opener at Michigan 49-10.

Penn State is hoping to work there way into the College Football Playoff picture in 2017. Of course, the Hawkeyes seek to be a thorn, as they were back in 2008, when Penn State was undefeated and in discussion for the BCS title game. The Hawkeyes pulled off a last second field goal to win 24-23.

The Hawkeyes and Nittany Lions are in the second of six straight East vs. West match ups, due to Big Ten scheduling. The Nittany Lions have won three straight (2011, 2012 and 2016) in the series. Iowa's last B1G win in the series was at Kinnick in a 24-3 outcome, in 2010.

This is first time a James Franklin team has played in Iowa City. Franklin enters his fourth season at the helm for Penn State, with high hopes for another Big Ten title. The offense is lead by second year offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead.

Penn State James Franklin
On the flip side, Iowa's Kirk Ferentz is the dean of College Football now, as he enters his 19th season as head coach, and 28th overall. The Hawkeyes opened 2017 with a new offensive coordinator, as the head coach's son, Brian Ferentz, moves from offensive line coach to OC, after five seasons, in the program.

All three phases of the game will be important in tonight's game, but offense will be particularly interesting, with the outstanding group Penn State has developed in year four under Franklin and OC Moorhead.

  • Junior RB 26 Saquon Barkley is considered the best in College Football at his position
  • Senior TE 88 Mike Gesicki is considered one of the best in College Football
  • Junior QB 9 Trace McSorley is coming off a breakout sophomore season in '16
  • Penn State may have the strongest receiver corp in the Big Ten and will go 3 wide 

In most games, line play is extremely important and this may be the area of the game the Hawkeyes can equalize and compete. But, the Iowa Hawkeyes will have to score points, as well.
  • Sophomore QB 4 Nate Stanley enters the game with 10 TDs and only one interception
  • Senior RB 25 Akrum Wadley was held to 30 yards last season, but broke out the following week in a home upset win over Michigan. The Hawkeyes are hoping for similar magic ...
  • Iowa is young at TE, with sophomore 87 Noah Fant and redshirt freshmen 38 TJ Hookenson
  • Iowa is using new WRs in 2017, though fifth year senior 89 Matt VandeBerg has experience

Most around the country are picking Penn State, though covering the spread may be in question.

If the Hawkeyes are going to have a chance, winning the game
begins in offensive and defensive lines at Kinnick Stadium.
The 12th man likely plays a key, as well.

Is it upset Saturday?

  • Iowa Hawkeyes 27
  • Penn State Nittany Lions 26

Dreams are made to come true, right?

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Game Day Iowa: the Hawkeyes host North Texas

Game 3 of the 2017 non-conference schedule for the Iowa Hawkeyes (2-0), as North Texas (1-1) comes to Iowa City again.

  • Iowa Hawkeyes 40
  • North Texas 17
Ahead of kickoff of Big Ten campaign for 2017 ...

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Game Day Iowa: Battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy from Jack Trice Stadium, in Ames

The Iowa Hawkeyes won back the Cy-Hawk Trophy, after a
31-17 win over the Iowa State Cyclones in 2015. The Hawks
are seeking to make it three straight, in Ames and in the series.
Ames, IA -- The Iowa Hawkeyes (1-0) are looking to carry off the Cy-Hawk Trophy for the third straight time, from the field of Jack Trice, as the Hawkeyes face the Iowa State Cyclones (1-0), with an 11 a.m. kickoff on ESPN2.

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell is making his 2nd
appearance in the Cy-Hawk Game today.
It is Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz's 19th season, as head coach, and 28th season overall, connected with the Cy-Hawk Game, as part of the Hawkeyes coaching staff. Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell heads into Round 2 of the series, after the 42-3 loss in Iowa City, in his first season at the helm, leading the Cyclones.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz has been involved in 27 Cy-Hawk
games in his coaching resume, as an assistant and now leading.
The dean of college football enters the game tied 9-9 in the series, as head coach. The rubber match today should be a good one.

It was 40 years ago, since the renewal game was played in Iowa
City. The Hawkeyes were the underdog back in 1977, but Iowa
pulled out the win in an exciting 12-10 win, which included a
77 yard TD run by WB Dennis Mosley for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa generally wins 2 out of every 3 against the Cyclones, but after a 15 year win streak from 1983 to 1997, the Cyclones pulled off 27-9 win at Kinnick Stadium in 1998, to begin a five year win streak of their own.

The 2002 game may have done more to spice up
the Cy-Hawk Game, as the Cyclones won another
one in Iowa City, with a 36-31 win over what would
become a Top 10 Iowa Hawkeye team, under Kirk Ferentz.
The first of three straight Top 10 seasons for the Hawkeyes.

What could we see at Jack Trice on Saturday on offense?

  • A back and forth game early on, unlike the affair last season, in Iowa City, where the Hawkeyes jumped off to an early 14-0 lead.
  • Two young QBs, as both Iowa sophomore Nate Stanley and Iowa State junior Jacob Park make first starts in the Cy-Hawk Game today.
  • Both Iowa and Iowa State have seasoned running backs, but none of them have had huge games in the Cy-Hawk Game, as of yet. Both Iowa senior RBs Akrum Wadley and James Butler will be making a debut at Jack Trice Stadium, while ISUs has sophomore David Montgomery and junior Mike Warren.
  • ISU's top WR Allen Lazard is a senior, but he has never scored in a Cy-Hawk Game.
  • Iowa's top WR Matt VandeBerg is fifth year senior, after having a career day as a senior last season in the Cy-Hawk Game. Suffering a season ending foot injury, after the game, he returns for one more stanza with ring already in hand.
  • Let's not forget, both teams have others at wide receiver and tight end, who could step up and become Hawkeye or Cyclone legends today, in the Cy-Hawk Game ...
  • It wouldn't be fair to two former offensive line coaches, as, they now lead their respective teams, if we didn't talk about the offensive lines today. The Hawkeyes have a veteran unit coming into Jack Trice, while Cyclones are younger, though senior LT Jake Campos returns from injury to make his final appearance today. Iowa hopes to see junior C James Daniels making his first start of 2017 today.
Iowa senior MLB 43 Josey Jewell is a pre-season all-American.

What could we see at Jack Trice on Saturday on defense?

  • The Hawkeyes are coming off a 24-3 win last Saturday over Wyoming, who were lead by NFL prospect in junior QB Josh Allen. The Hawkeyes defense played a very strong game to kickoff 2017. 
  • The Hawkeyes rotated in eight defensive linemen, who will be tested heavily today at Jack Trice, with a duo threat in both the rushing and passing games, by the Cyclones. The senior is DT Nate Bazata, but the Hawkeyes debuted five-star true freshman DE A.J. Epenesa in Week 1 for ten snaps. Bazata lead the 4th down stand for the Hawkeyes against Cowboys last Saturday and will be a key player to watch today, as Iowa must stop the duo threat of run and pass from the Cyclones.
  • The Cyclones are coming off a 42-24 home win against in-state Northern Iowa, where 14 points was fueled by two early Pick 6 interceptions by the Cyclones back 7.
  • The Cyclones can play using a 3-4 defensive set, as well as a 4-3, so look for some different looks, especially with Iowa's QB only making his second collegiate start today. The Cyclones defensive line is anchored by JC transfer, sophomore NG Ray Lima.
  • The Hawkeyes return three senior starters at LB in 2017, and last Saturday, they accounted for 38 tackles. Lead by the Outlaw ... MLB Josey Jewell, flanked by OLB Ben Niemann, a Cyclone legacy, and WLB Bo Bower.
  • The Cyclones moved former starting QB senior Joel Lanning to MLB for the 2017 season, while junior WLB Willie Harvey is his counterpart in the middle of the ISU defense again.
  • Both teams have solid secondaries, though the Hawkeyes are younger, they will see the return of sophomore CB Manny Rugamba today, after missing Week 1, due to a violation of team rules. The Cyclones are lead again by junior LC Brian Peavy and senior LS Kamari Cotton-Moya for 2017.

What could the special teams bring to the equation?

  • Iowa is young at placekicker and punter, while ISU senior punter Colin Downing could provide  huge boost in flipping the field position today. 
  • Field position is huge in this series ...
  • Both teams have capable players in the return game.
Iowa sophomore QB 4 Nate Stanley is making his first road
start for Kirk Ferentz, following three other Hawkeye starters
during the KF era making it on the road against ISU.
(Nathan Chandler 2003, Jake Christensen 2007 and Jake Rudock 2013)
The previous three were 2-1, mirroring the average for Iowa-ISU games.

The two deep on the Iowa Hawkeyes:

The two deep for the Iowa State Cylcones:

Our Pick in Cy-Hawk Game today:

  • Iowa 30
  • Iowa State 17
The series has been very competitive, 50/50, for the most part during the Kirk Ferentz era. Like 2013 and 2015, look for the Hawkeyes to play better on the road, rather than some of the close wins, ISU has had recently in Iowa City, 2012 and 2014. Of course, the 2011 went to ISU in triple overtime, so often the close ones have bounced the way of the Cyclones. Separation is often important for Iowa ...

Can Iowa senior RB 25 Akrum Wadley pull a Dennis Mosley
game today? The former Iowa RB, had a great senior season,
including breakout game that lead to the first 1,000 yard season
by a Hawkeye in 1981. Iowa brings two 1,000 yard runners
to the game, with Wadley and Nevada grad transfer James Butler.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Game Day Iowa: Wyoming Cowboys and Iowa Hawkeyes open 2017 at Kinnick Stadium

Iowa City, IA -- The Iowa Hawkeyes (8-5 in 2016) kickoff their 128th season at historic Kinnick Stadium, as the Wyoming Cowboys (8-6 in 2016) come to town, for the first time, since 1953. Both teams are coming off an 8-4 regular season, as the Big Ten vs. MWC showdown kicks off at 11 a.m. at Kinnick Stadium, and on the Big Ten Network.

Both teams defeated two Top 25 opponents in 2016.
Wyoming @ Iowa from Kinnick Stadium, 11 a.m. on BTN.

This is the first meeting between Iowa and Wyoming in 20 years, since the 1987 Holiday Bowl, where the Hawkeyes pulled out a 20-19 win late. Iowa leads the series 2-0, winning the only other game, 21-7, in Iowa City, in 1953.

Junior 6 FS Marcus Epps, sophomore 30 MLB Logan Wilson,
junior 17 QB Josh Allen and senior 36 FB Drew Van Maanan
will serve as game captains for the Cowboys in the season opener
at Iowa.
At quarterback, Wyoming has a gunslinger in junior Josh Allen, who has NFL aspirations, after a breakout season in 2016. The Iowa Hawkeyes must replace C.J. Beathard, who lead Iowa to a 21-7 record, since becoming the full-time starter in 2015. Iowa will go with true sophomore Nate Stanley, who beat our junior Tyler Wiegers for the job.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz is the dean of College Football.
He will open 2017, with a first- year starter and the Hawkeyes
choose true sophomore QB 4 Nate Stanley for the task.
Both teams are inexperienced at the receivers position, with Iowa returning only one wide receiver, senior Matt VandeBerg, with a catch as a Hawkeye. The Cowboys must replace 25 of 28 TD receptions, as sophomore WR C.J. Johnson is the only returner on the other end of an Allen TD pass from 2016.

Both Iowa and Wyoming were interested in the services of true
sophomore Iowa 87 TE Noah Fant, who came out of Omaha.
Fant caught 9 passes for 70 yards, 1 TD in 2016 for the Hawks.
Iowa has a young, TE corp, lead by sophomore Noah Fant and redshirt freshman T.J. Hockenson. The Hawkeyes will use many of the 8 tight ends on the roster in 2017. Last year's starting TE George Kittle joins QB Beathard on the San Franciso 49ers roster for 2017. This unit is one to watch, in the passing game for young Stanley at Iowa in 2017.

Iowa senior RB 25 Akrum Wadley leads the Iowa ground game.
Wyoming lost both their number 1 and number 2 running backs from 2016. The Hawkeyes are the only team in FBS to return two 1,000 yard rushers, as senior Akrum Wadley and senior grad transfer James Butler, from Nevada, lead the likely four deep RB unit for the Hawkeyes. The Cowboys lost talented RB Brian Hill, so a three player committee is likely, with junior Nico Evans, sophomores Milo Hall and Kellen Overstreet. This is an area where the Hawkeyes have a clear advantage.

Iowa offensive line: senior RT 75 Ike Boettger, senior RG 79
Sean Welsh, junior C 78 James Daniels, junior LG 68 Keegan Render,
and senior LT 52 Boone Myers, who all bring starting experience.

The ground game all begins up front with the offensive line. The Hawkeyes are an experienced, veteran bunch, with three seniors and two juniors in the line up. Wyoming returns four of five offensive line starters, but the center position will be manned by a true freshman in 2017, as Logan Harris replaces all-MWC center Chase Roullier.

Iowa senior MLB 43 Josey Jewell leads the Hawkeyes defense again.
A pre-season all-American at linebacker, with a group that returns
6 of 7 in the front 7 for the Hawkeyes.
Both Iowa and Wyoming return eight starters on defense, though the Hawkeyes will begin 2017, without junior free safety Brandon Snyder, out with a knee injury. The Hawkeyes were a Top 25 defense in 2016, while the Cowboys were in the bottom 25 of defenses in 2016.

Iowa Kirk Ferentz is now the dean of College Football, entering
his 19th season as head coach, 28th overall for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa's Kirk Ferentz is now the dean of College Football, entering his 19th season, as head coach. Back in 1999, Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl was the defensive coordinator at Nebraska, when Ferentz debuted as Iowa's head coach. Iowa lacked Big Ten bodies in the trenches, when Ferentz arrived in Iowa City, back in 1999. It isn't the case entering 2017, where Iowa's strengths are in the offensive and defensive lines heading into the season.

Like the 2013 Hawkeyes, Iowa returns three senior starters at LB
to kickoff the season, as 41 WLB Bo Bower, 43 MLB Josey Jewell,
and 44 LEO Ben Niemann all return. This should be a strong unit.
Iowa's strength on defense is the linebacker unit, with all three starters returning, while the heart of the Wyoming defense is the secondary, lead by two very good safeties, who lead the Cowboys in tackles in 2016.

Iowa senior Matt VandeBerg is coming back off a foot injury in 2017.
VandeBerg will step out as Iowa's punt returner again. He played
PR during his sophomore season and the Hawkeyes look to make
impact plays in special teams in 2017.
In a season opener, special teams can play a huge role in the outcome. In 2007, the nation all remembers Appalachian State blocking a FG to secure the 34-32 upset over the Michigan Wolverines.

Both Iowa and Wyoming have new punters and young placekickers. The return game should be solid for both teams. Miscues, penalties and special teams are often keys to watch in season openers. Both teams enter the 2017 season with some promise and some unknowns.

Prediction: Iowa 33, Wyoming 19
The Hawkeyes are able to get the ground game going, with
RBs Akrum Wadley, James Butler, Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin.
How well have the Hawkeyes and Cowboys improved or stayed the same entering 2017?

Wisconsin took care of business over Utah State; while Iowa and Northwestern look to keep up with the Badgers, as Big Ten West teams square off against MWC programs, as Wyoming and Nevada come to Iowa City and Evanston, respectively.

Look for the Hawkeyes and Wildcats to join the Badgers at 1-0, after Week 1 of the 2017 College Football season.