November 27, 2010

TES - 2010 Hawkeye Football Game Notes Week 12

Iowa’s Record:  7-4, 4-3 Big Ten
Iowa’s Rankings
AP: #24 (100 votes)
USA Today: #24 (74 votes)
BCS: #24

2010 Iowa Football Schedule (times Eastern)

9/04/10 Eastern Illinois WIN 37-7
9/11/10 Iowa State WIN 35-7
9/18/10 @ Arizona Loss 34-27
9/25/10 Ball State WIN 45-0
10/02/10 Penn State WIN 24-3
10/09/10 Bye Week
10/16/10 @ Michigan WIN 38-28
10/23/10 Wisconsin Loss 31-30
10/30/10 Michigan State WIN 37-6
11/06/10 @ Indiana WIN 18-13
11/13/10 @ Northwestern Loss 21-17
11/20/10 Ohio State Loss 20-17
11/27/10 @ Minnesota 3:37 PM, BTN

November 27th, 2010: Iowa Hawkeyes @ Minnesota Golden Gophers, 2-9, 1-6 Big Ten
Prior Games: 103, Minnesota leads 59-42-2
Last Game: 2009: Minnesota 0, Iowa 12

Hawkeye Stat Pack:

Turnover Margin: +14
Big Ten #1, NCAA #2

Current Line: Iowa -16

Scoring Defense 15.5, Pass Def 217.9, Rush Def 93.3, Interceptions 17, Total Defense 311.2
Big Ten                 #2                       #7                          #2                          #1 tie                         #2
NCAA                   #6                      #64                         #6                          #7 tie                         #14

Scoring Offense 29.6, Pass Offense 247.5.7, Rush Offense 146.6, Total Offense 394.1
Big Ten                #6                            #4                                 #9                                #6
NCAA                  #51                          #38                               #75                              #51
 Depth Chart for this week:
Game Watch: ‘The Best Game Watch Outside Of Kinnick.’
Opal Bar & Restaurant, 251 East 52nd St. Corner of 52nd and 2nd, 212 593-4321

Getting There:
6/E (no V on weekends) trains to 51st/Lexington Ave. Walk 2 blocks east, 1 block north to the bar.
M15 Bus – downtown on 2nd Ave, uptown on 1st Ave.
M50 Bus from the west side.
Several parking garages are in the area, but we strongly encourage you to take cabs or mass transit to our game watches!

Last Week: Ohio State

Hello once again my friends, I hope that this festive time of year has been able to take your mind off of recent Hawkeye football results.  A football season of such expectations, only to be crushed in such a devastating fashion, time after time, at the point in the game where Iowa was supposed to be the team making the plays. 

Once again, there was enough blame to go around last week, yes, the obvious field goal miss hurt,  and some of our kickoffs were brought out too far.  The offense couldn’t make 1st downs with the game on the line, and the defense couldn’t stop passes over the middle for most of the day.  A collective effort, one that seemed all too obvious as the 4th quarter went on.

Of course, in this time of the year when more important things matter to us, this was just a football game.  As the ESPN booth guys pointed out, all 26 Iowa seniors are on track to graduate by May.  A few of them are going to continue to impress us in the NFL, but most of them will have their competitive football days end with the bowl game.  So we can cheer their effort to be true student-athletes. 

The results from this season were hard to swallow, but it was not from a lack of effort by the Iowa football team.  Each week, they gave it their best.  Sometimes in sports, that’s just not good enough to win.

Kinnick was full and optimism high as the Buckeyes kicked off, and Davis took the return out to the 19.  The booth guys point out that Adam was suspended for the 1st quarter for ‘academic indigestion’ (Kirk’s description) so Coker took the field at tailback.

He was ready to go, as he got the first snap and went right up the middle for 11.  Everywhere, visions of a 200+ yard rushing day emerge. 

Back to reality, Stanzi goes into the 3 step drop and fires a quick strike to McNutt on the left, caught, 5 yards.  Ricky then goes into the deep drop and pump fakes right – he looks downfield, but the pressure arrives, so he pulls it down and heads to the left sideline, but nothing emerges and he gets pushed out of bounds for a 1 yard loss.  3rd down, look for your tight end – and he does, and finds Reisner on the left for 11 more and a Hawkeye 1st down at our 46!

Now KOK gets aggressive, and Ricky goes play action as he drops back and looks deep – nothing there, the pressure comes, so he steps up once, then twice, and then pulls it down and runs for 6 yards.  Coker again, but his middle search only gains a yard, so on the next snap he takes it off tackle left, and there he finds 3 yards, and a Hawkeye 1st down at the OSU 46.

From here, KOK attacks – Stanzi is in the deep drop, he fires it down the middle to McNutt who is wide open at the 5 - but the pass is too far, and no good.  Coker gets the ball and as he heads left, he runs smack into a blitz, that goes for -2, and on 3rd down, Ricky can’t go downfield, so he must dump it off to Alan, but that only goes for 4 when we needed 12.  Ryan takes the field, and his very high punt is caught at the Buckeye 16, fair catch.

You don’t see many 10 play drives that end in punts.  Sure would have been nice to connect on that long pass.  All right, the Hawkeye defense takes the field, ready to chase.

Pryor comes out throwing, and his pass left to Sanzenbacher is good for 10.  A read/option handoff goes to Herron, and he tries for the far sideline before Ballard wraps him up, 3 yards.  The right tackle is called for a false start, and then Pryor gets hit as he tries a throw into the flat; that is no good, so here we go defense, 3rd and 12.

Wait, the flags fly, and the same guy has been called for a false start, make that a 3rd and 17.

Pryor drops back, but he has to step up quickly as the pressure comes from Klug on the side – as he does, he fires the ball down the middle, and hits Sanzenbacher right between four Iowa defenders for 21 yards and a Buckeye 1st down. 

Herron then goes off tackle left for 6, but on 2nd down, Klug clobbers him in the backfield, and that goes for -1.  3rd down, Pryor has Posey open on the far side, but he drops it, and the Buckeyes punt from their 44.  It lands at our 25, but Chaney is not there to catch it, and it rolls to the Hawkeye 13 before going out of bounds.  Hidden yardage: minus 12.

Ricky fires a quick pass to Herman that gains 3.  Here it is, the end around, this time to DJK, but the Iowa line fails to block one of the Buckeye linebackers and he gets Darrell for a 6 yard loss.   3rd and 13, Stanzi finds DJK again on a crossing route about 6 yards deep – he catches it, and gets to the corner and out of bounds two yards past the marker, 1st down Hawks!  Stanzi now, a quick dump off to Coker, he breaks a tackle right there, and hauls it 11 yards for another 1st down.  He then goes the tailback route and tries off tackle left – at the line he’s hit, but still on his feet, and gets the corner turned! 10, 15, 18 yards before he is wrestled down, Hawkeye 1st down at the OSU 46.

 Stanzi goes into the deep drop and fires it far down the near sideline, as the ball comes down, a flag flies, and DJK is diving back into the field to make the catch at about the 6.  It takes a minute to figure out, but the flag is for pass interference, the Buckeye corner had shoved DJK out of bounds.  DJK could have come back in to catch the ball, but he had to establish himself in bounds first – in this case, he dove from out of bounds and landed in bounds.  So, no good, but 15 yards more for the penalty – Iowa 1st down, OSU 31.

Coker now, right up the gut, 7 yards.  Once more, 5 yards, 1st down.  Stanzi drops back to pass and he sees the corner blitz – he is just able to get it away as the hit comes, and downfield McNutt is open and it’s caught!  Touchdown Iowa!!!  A post route, 19 yards!  The kick is good, and the Hawks lead 7-0.  The drive, 8 plays, 87 yards.  That’s more like it!

What we need now is a stop.  Meyer’s kick only flies to the 18, and it gets out to the Buckeye 41 before the coverage team makes the tackle.  That was not what we had in mind.

Pryor starts with an option right and he keeps it for 7 yards.  It looks like Sash had him dead to rights for no gain, but as the booth guys point out, his responsibility was the tailback in that situation.  Too bad Pryor didn’t pitch it.

On this snap he hands it off, and the carry to the left is nullified by a holding call that brings an end to the 1st quarter.

After the break the Buckeyes faced the 2nd and 13 – Pryor has time, and he goes over the middle again to Sanzenbacher for 16 yards.  Play action, Pryor rolls left, and he floats it into the 2nd tier and hits Sanzenbacher once more, this time for 26 yards down the far sideline. 

A handoff to Herron goes for 10, and the Buckeyes were at the Hawkeye 10. Pryor keeps it, and it seems like we have him wrapped up for about 3, but he keeps moving, and gets it all the way to the 3 yard line.  Hawks call timeout to regroup.

2nd and goal, Herron gets a carry, and he goes up the middle for two yards before running into a wall.  3rd and goal from the 1, Pryor rolls right, but from behind him Sash flies in and dives for the QBs legs – it causes him to stumble, but as he goes down, he flips the ball to his fullback – but the Hawkeyes have him contained right there, and the play goes for nothing.  4th and goal, it looks like the Buckeyes are going to go for it, but they can’t get the play in on time and call timeout.  After thinking about it, the sweater vest regains his conservative self and the kicking team took the field.  The 18 yard field goal is good, and the Hawkeyes lead 7-3.

The Buckeye kickoff lands at the 10, and Davis gets it out to the 32.  All right, a nice start, let’s have a response!  Ricky rolls right and hits McNutt underneath for 5.  On 2nd down, Ferentz is called for a false start (that’s not supposed to happen when you have your hands on the ball), so our quick dump off to Adam still leaves us with a 3rd and 5.  Ricky tries a quick throw to Reisner over the middle – he gets clearly bumped before the ball arrives, but it’s not clear enough for the officials, and the pass falls to the turf.  Ryan’s punt lands at the Buckeye 28, and bounces once to the 21 where it’s downed.

This quick 3 and out ends with Clayborn wrapped around Pryor’s legs as the Buckeye QB throws the ball away.  Buckeye punt, we get it back at our 33.

Stanzi no sooner gets into his drop when the pressure arrives, so he rolls left and ends up keeping it for 3 yards.  A quick dump off to Adam gets 3 more, so the Hawks face 3rd and 4.  This time the Iowa line gives Stanzi time, and he is able to fire it to open space on the far sideline – the Buckeye defenders have followed McNutt into the center of the field, so Chaney is open and he makes the catch – no, bobbles it, and then caught, before stepping out of bounds for 15 yards and a Hawkeye 1st down at the Buckeye 46.

From here, the Buckeyes might have been thinking deep pass, so the Hawks try to sneak Adam right, but it only goes for 1.  2nd down, Stanzi’s pass is batted back to him and he makes the catch, but can’t go anywhere for no gain.  3rd and 9, Ricky drops back and floats it to the right – where Chaney gets turned around the wrong way, but then can’t get turned back around to get to the ball.  It lands on the turf, and the Iowa sideline throws up their hands, and there it is, a single flag, pass interference on the Buckeyes.  The replay shows that this was a gift, but in light of some of the calls the officials missed, they certainly owed us one. 

After all that we were at the Buckeye 30.  Ricky tries Alan on the right – it’s short, but dropped.  Hawks then throw a screen at the Buckeye rush, and Adam gets 8 yards before he is brought down.  3rd and two, come on Hawkeyes, Stanzi rolls right, and as he nears the far sideline he tries to throw it back across his body – Adam is open 10 yards away, but the awkward pass misses him.  Meyer comes in to try the 40 yard field goal, and the kick is certainly far enough and it looks good…but then the ball hooked ever so left, and missed the target.  3 points that would come back to bite us in the end.

All right, clock at 3:38, the Hawkeye defense can’t let the Buckeyes score before halftime.

Pryor keeps it himself and gains 5 yards before Sash is finally able to put the first good hit on him.  Herron now, 2 yards before Hyde pops him, 3rd and 3.  Pryor rolls left, and the defense is able to cover downfield, but they can’t stop him from cutting upfield for 6 yards and a 1st down.   Pryor than tries a pass into the left flat, but Clayborn has seen this play coming and he leaps up to tip it – if only it had been a bit lower, he could have caught it and had himself a pick-6.  Still, 2nd and 10, Pryor fires it deep down the middle to his wideout Brown, who reaches up to get the ball in his hands, but then Prater flies in and drills him high (a flag was possible, but never came) and the ball found the ground, 3rd and 10.

Pryor has all day and once again is able to shoot the ball right up the middle, this time to Posey, for 22 yards and 1st down at the Iowa 43.  A quick dump off to Herron nets just one yard.  Pryor then, dropping back, feeling the heat so he steps up, and he floats the ball all the way to the Hawkeye end zone where his receiver is open – but no, 3 Hawkeye defenders arrive and Prater leaps to tip it, and behind him Hyde snags the ball with one hand and falls to the ground!  Interception!  The replay clearly shows that Pryor missed this one, had he thrown the ball in front of his wideout, to the far corner of the end zone, we would have had no one there.  But he didn’t, he both floated the ball, and threw it more down the middle, and that gave our guys the time to get there.  That’s the erratic Pryor we want to see. 

1:06 left, and the Hawks go the conservative route with an Adam carry off tackle left – he gets 5 yards, but then he loses the ball going down, but the Hawks avert the disaster as Zusevics fell on it.  A kneel down ends it, and the teams head off to a 7-3 Hawkeye lead.  So far, so good.  But all around Hawkeye nation, everyone is thinking about the chances we had to have more, and hoping that the 2nd half drama will end up in our favor this time.

The 2nd half begins with a Buckeye possession.  If the Hawkeye defense can stop it, it could go a long way to determining how this half will play out.

Meyer’s kick lands at the 9 and is carried out to the 23.  Pryor starts with a keeper and gains 11.  Next, he rolls left and has to throw the ball away, but a flag has flown, and OSU is called for an illegal man downfield.  That’s a 5 yard penalty.  A screen pass to Herron gets those yards back.  3rd and 10 now,  Pryor gets pressured right up the middle, but he escapes the pocket and gets the corner turned, 9 yards.  4th and 1 from their 43, the Buckeyes come up to the line and quick snap the ball – it’s not a sneak, but a handoff to Herron.  Regardless, the Hawkeye defense can’t stop it, and it goes of 3 yards and a Buckeye 1st down.  One more dump off pass goes for 13 yards, and OSU was at the Iowa 40.

Pryor now goes into the deep drop, but he is forced to dump the ball off to Herron down low – Sash has him for no gain, but he can’t bring him down, so the play goes for 5.  Pryor keeps it and goes left to get 4, and here was another 3rd down, this time 3 feet to go.  Once again it’s a quick snap, and Herron gets through the left side for 6 yards, and a 1st down at the Iowa 25.

The Buckeyes run an option to the right, and the ball goes to Herron with the pitch, but the Hawkeyes stuff it for just a yard.  Pryor then tosses a quick pass to the right, it only goes for a few yards, but on the tackle Hunter is called for a facemask.  That puts the ball at the Hawkeye 8, and Pryor then keeps it for 3 yards, where he is hit hard at the 5. 

2nd and goal, Pryor drops back, and then fires a quick strike right – where his tight end has just gone forward 6 yards, and turned around.  The pass is caught for a touchdown, with Greenwood behind the play, unable to respond in time or get around the 6’8 tight end.  The kick is good, and the Hawks were now down 10-7.

Well the challenge was on, could the offense respond?

The Buckeye kick lands at the 4 and Davis carries it out to the 22.  Adam off tackle right, 4 yards.  Stanzi drops back and fires immediately to DJK over the middle, he hits him in stride and the play goes for 23 yards!  Now a dump off to Adam gets 5, and then Stanzi rolls right and finds Marvin underneath, 18 more, 1st down Iowa at the OSU 28!  Challenge accepted!

A quick pass left to Herman is a bit high, he makes the catch, but in doing so, loses his footing and it just goes for 2 yards.  Adam gets 2 up the middle, so the Hawks faced the 3rd and 6 from the Buckeye 24.  Ricky tosses a quick strike to McNutt in the flat – the pass is off and no good, but as the ball bounces away, the Buckeye defender launches himself into Marvin, and flag flies for a head to head personal foul, and the Hawkeyes were now half the distance to the Buckeye goal line, at the 12.

We start with a run to Adam, but OSU knows that is coming, and they drill him for a 1 yard loss.  2nd down, Stanzi drops back and quickly fires it over the middle to McNutt – he’s open!  But the pass is just a bit off and he can’t make the move to get it.  3rd down, Ricky rolls right and tries throwing it to Adam at the goal line, but there is too much traffic and the pass is no good.  Meyer takes the field, and this time he nails the kick, a 31 yard field goal, and we were all tied up at 10 with 3:26 left in the 3rd.

Then Meyer makes a critical mistake and boots the kickoff out of bounds, OSU ball at the 40.  But the Iowa defense picks him up and forces a quick 3 and out, and the Hawkeyes get the ball back at our 15.

This drive featured the Stanzi pass to McNutt (in triple coverage) that went for 14 yards and a 1st down.  That play brought an end to the 3rd quarter.  Possessions were hard to come by in this game, we were going to have to execute on both sides of the ball if we were going to win the 4th.

The quarter starts with an Adam run, where he spins and hops his way forward for 10 yards.  From here (our 42) Ricky tries a deep pass to DJK right down the middle – the ball kind of hangs up there, and Darrell almost makes the catch by cutting back beneath the double coverage and diving for the ball.  Almost, two plays later we have to punt, and OSU has the ball at the 20 in the exchange.

OK defense, 4th quarter, the time of possession has been roughly equal up to this point, you should be able to have the energy to finish this one out.

Pryor rolls right and tosses a short pass that was off the mark and no good.  He then tries to scramble up the middle, but Prater hits him for no gain.  3rd and 10, Pryor quickly finds that Clayborn is closing into him from the side, so he fires the ball right up the middle – but this time, the Hawkeyes are waiting for the pass, and Morris leaps to tip the ball, and Prater is the one who grabs it for another interception!  Here he is crossing the field, and it looks like he might get the near corner turned, but he is caught from behind and downed at the OSU 27.  Iowa ball, here we go!!!

Coker is in now, he gets the ball and goes off tackle left – the line gets the inside seal and he gets the corner turned – 20, 15, 10, 5 goal…no, he is knocked down at the 1.  Kinnick is erupting in noise as the Hawkeyes take the line, and once again hand it to Marcus, who plows through two Buckeyes as he falls into the end zone.  Touchdown Iowa!!! Kick good, 17-10! The clock at 11:53 of the 4th.  Defense, one more time - get the ball back!

This doesn’t start well – the Iowa kick lands at the five, and the returner breaks two tackles as he carries it out to the 39.

Pryor rolls right and keeps it, 4 yards.  Herron up the middle, 4 yards, 3rd and 2.  Pryor rolls left, the Hawkeye defense strings it out nicely, so he cuts it back right for 4 yards, and a Buckeye 1st down.  He then dumps one off to Herron who gets 10, then another short pass gains 4.  A false start pushes them back 5, but another underneath toss to Posey gets 11 yards, so the Buckeyes faced a 3rd and 1.  The Hawks could not stop the sneak, so OSU had new life at the Iowa 27.

Pryor has a man open in the far side flat, but his throw was too low.  On 2nd down, he can’t escape when the pressure comes up the middle, and Ballard and Daniels both arrive at the quarterback for a 4 yard sack that brings up the 3rd and 14.  The Hawkeyes finally get the stop, as Clayborn provided immediate pressure up the middle, and Pryor’s pass was no good.  The field goal is from 48 yards out, and their kicker nails is to make the score 17-13.  The clock was at 7:38.  We must have 1st downs.

DJK finally gets a kickoff and he carries it out to the 29, but somewhere the Hawks are called for holding, so we started at our 19.    Come on offense!

It was not to be.  On first down, Ricky barely gets all the way into his drop back when the pressure comes from his right side – he feels it and tries to step up, but is a split second too late, and he gets hit for a sack and 6 yard loss.  Now he has time to find Marvin underneath, and that goes for 11, so the Hawkeye faced a 3rd and 5 to keep the ball and keep the clock moving.

Stanzi drops back, and the Buckeyes are blitzing – he gets the ball away, aiming for Adam, but a Buckeye lineman leaped up to bat the ball away.  3 and out, at the worst possible time.  Ryan comes in and does his part, the kick sails 52 yards to the Buckeye 23.  6:04 left in the game, all around Hawkeye Nation fans are willing the defense to make one more stop.

Saine finally gets a carry and it goes for 11 yards, right up the middle.  Pryor drops back, but he immediately pulls it down and runs for 6.  He then drops one off to Herron in the flat, and that goes for 9 yards.  The Buckeyes had a 1st down at the 50.

Pryor again drops back, and now Clayborn is surging up the middle, there is nowhere for the QB to run, so he quickly tosses it over the middle to no one.  2nd down, Pryor rolls right, but this time Binns is hot on his heels, and this hurried pass is no good.  3rd and 10, Pryor acts like he is going to roll right, but then he stops and drops back, and fires the ball all the way down to the end zone along the far sideline – where Posey has gotten past Prater, and Sash has not had time to move over.  The ball sails right into his hands, and then right through them and to the turf, as the receiver puts his hands on his head in stunned disbelief.  4th and 10, OSU huddles up to go for it.  In retrospect, the Hawkeyes should have called timeout to prep for this play.  They didn’t, and the defense soon paid the price.

At the snap Pryor rolls right – the Hawkeyes have it stringed out perfectly, there is no option to run that way, and we have enough guys in back to quash any pass attempts.  Seeing this, Pryor cuts the ball back to the left, and the Iowa line can’t get the corner contained, so Pryor gets there and cuts it up field for 14 yards and a 1st down at the Iowa 36.

It took 5 more plays to get the one yard touchdown run, but once that play was finished, I think everyone knew that the Buckeyes were going to score, it was now only a question if we could respond.  They did for the 20-17 lead.  OK offense, all 3 time outs, let’s find some magic to close out Senior Day in style.

Chaney gets the kickoff and he carries it out to the 37, a good start. Clock at 1:47.  Anticipating a blitz, the Hawkeyes run a screen – the pressure comes, and Stanzi tries flipping it to Adam, but as the ball is on the way, an OSU linebacker drills Adam in the back – it was immediately obvious at full speed, and even more so during the replay, that was pass interference.  The umpire was right there, the linesmen had to see it, but none of them pulls the flag out of their pocket.  Kinnick erupts into a chorus of boos, and we see that Adam is still lying on the ground.  Turns out the hit was close to being a helmet in the back – also flagable, and the result was a 2nd concussion for him.  So he is out for the Gopher game.

Kinnick was still at full throat as the Hawks took the field for 2nd down.  Stanzi finds pressure as soon as he drops back, so he rolls out to his right, where he tries a mid range pass down the sideline – but it was no good.  3rd down, Ricky drops back and throws in one pump fake right, but then he pulls the ball down to move up as the pocket collapsed around him – and he goes down for an 11 yard sack.  Facing the 4th and 21, the Hawks call finally call timeout.

After the break, Ricky is in the shotgun, and he immediately starts to roll right – he is able to find McNutt on the near hashmark, and Stanzi fires it to him, but the pass does not go 21 yards, it goes about 15, and Marvin can only get 4 more as he gets surrounded by four Buckeyes.  It goes for 19, 6 feet short of the 1st down, and that was it. 

The Buckeyes just ran out the clock, and we burned up our last two timeouts in futility from there.  Sure could have used them earlier.  

Ricky, 20 for 31, 195 yards, and 1 td.  He now sits 4 away from Long’s Iowa record of 27 in a season.  Coker, 9 carries for 70 yards – 7.8 per touch.  There has been a lot of grumbling on the Iowa boards that he should have had more carries, I tend to agree.  Adam, 9 totes for just 27 yards.  Coker will get almost all of them this week.

The defense was able to keep the combined OSU rushing stats at 4.4 yards per carry, but there were just too many times were short yardage runs were enough to keep drives going, and that was the difference in the end.

So, the meat of the schedule is done for, and all that is left to savor some semblance of a good season is a trip north to retain our tasty (named) trophy.  And take out a season’s worth of frustration on the Golden Rodents.

This Week: Minnesota

Yup, you are getting the game notes a day later this week, I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and were able to spend time with family or friends.  No more days to kill til game day, when you wake up tomorrow, it will be here.

And this one closes the door on one era and opens up another one.  First, the annual battle for Floyd will no longer end the season, that honor now goes to the as yet unnamed bloodbath with the Huskers.  We play the Rodents in late October next season.

And when we do venture north, we will no longer get to sit in climate-controlled comfort, order beers, and get to use geometry trying to figure out how to get goalposts through revolving doors.

That’s right, the Rodents have moved outside and back on campus, into their spiffy new TCF Bank Stadium.  New and spiffy maybe, but it only seats 50,000, and there will probably be about 35,000 Iowa fans in there on Saturday.

The Rodents had tried to prevent this scenario by making the Iowa ticket purchase tied to getting tickets to other home games.  This scheme might have worked, but the Rodents pretty much lost all those games, so their fans bailed out on the season, and sold their tickets to whomever. 

The Rodents were not exactly expected to challenge for an upper division spot in the Big Ten hunt, but this season has been a major disappointment from the get go.  They opened up with a win over Middle Tennessee (name the mascot), but in week two, they fell in a shootout to South Dakota.    That was bad enough, but it began a streak of 9 straight losses, a run of futility that forced the Rodent athletic leaders to take the drastic step of firing a coach midseason, when they axed Tim Brewster.  They have gone 1-3 under the interim coach, the highlight being a come from behind win over the Illini two weeks ago, 38-34.  The Rodents were on the bye last week, so they should be all refreshed and ready to throw whatever they got at us. 

Such as it is.  The biggest question of the week is ‘can the Rodent offense score on the Iowa defense this season?’  That which they have failed to do in both 2008 (55-0) and 2009 (12-0).

That offense is lead by senior QB and four year starter Adam Weber.  To date, he has racked up 2515 yards with 20 tds, and 9 picks.  His primary weapon is McKnight, who has hauled in 46 passes with 10 tds.  Their top two tailbacks average 3.5 and 4.2 yards a carry, together they have rushed for just over 1,00 yards on the season. 

This offense has been able to put up points in some games, but against good defenses, they struggle.  They only managed 8 points against the Spartans and 10 against Ohio State.  One of the main problems is their consistent inability to give Weber time, and aside from sacks and such, that can cause him to get a bit loose with his tosses.  Weber is not a threat to run aside from scrambling, so shutting down his tailbacks and making him throw will be the key – this could be a good week for stat stuffing for the D line.

The bigger problem for the Rodents is their defense.  They are dead last in the Big Ten, and 104th nationally, in rush defense – giving up 200.5 yards per game.  If you just count the Big Ten contests, that goes up to 207.  Coker went over 100 the first time Adam went down – he could be well over it this week.  As is always the case, a strong rushing attack should provide Ricky with plenty of play action strikes down the field.   The Rodent’s pure passing defense stats don’t look terrible, they are middle of the conference.  But when you factor in the criteria that make up pass efficiency defense, there are only 6 teams in the nation worse than they are.  Stanzi will have his opportunity – he needs 4 td passes to catch Chuck Long’s mark of 27.  Might be tough to get if we are running wild, but if he gets a couple of them, I think Kirk and KOK might cry havoc and let him keep throwing no matter how much we are up.  Let’s not have any 4th quarter issues this week boys – no mercy in the first three.

They Gophers do sport a real threat after we score, and must kickoff.  Junior receiver/kick returner Stoudermire gets almost 28 yards per kick return, and he brought one back 90 yards for a td in the win over Illinois.  As it seems teams have tried to kick the ball away from DJK, I think Meyer needs to try to do the same.

But in the other special teams areas, we begin to see some more reasons the Rodents are 2-9.  The kicker has made 9 field goals, but missed 6.  And when it comes to punting, the Rodents are dead last nationally in net yardage.  It’s probably not in their best interest to give us short fields, but I’m not sure they can do much about it.

What does this all mean?  Well, there is real reason to question the Iowa players’ state of mind after crushing back to back losses.  There is the fact the Rodents had last week off.  There is Floyd; sometimes you can toss out the records for these bitter border rivalry wars.  Speaking of rivalries, the Rodents haven’t won a single trophy game since beating us in 2006.  They will be primed the play the game, I’m sure.

But I also know that they are going to be thinking about their recent futility against us, and when they look up in the stands and see all the Black and Gold, it will remind them that this occurred because of how they played all season, regardless of it being home or away.  If the Hawks can start strong and put a couple tds on the board, the Rodents will start to show their true self.  Emotion won’t do ya much good when Coker is breaking off run after run for 7, 10, 14 yards.  With a game forecast high of around 30 degrees, the Rodent offense will be getting pretty cold on the sideline as our offense marches up and down the field.  In the end, I think the Hawkeye players are just pissed off.  They want to take it out on somebody, and waiting 5 weeks to do it in the bowl game is too long. 

Yes, I do think the Rodents will score this year, but it won’t be enough, and they can’t count on much from the stands to help them along.  Ricky will get 3 tds passes this week, and Coker will push the 150 yard mark alone.  Floyd stays in Iowa City, and the Hawkeyes are able to finish the regular season on a high note.   Iowa 31, Rodents 10.



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