Iowa Hawkeyes @ Iowa State Cyclones Football Preview
Parallels are obvious when looking at the way Iowa State and Iowa kicked off their respective seasons. Both are playing their first high-level competition of the year after starting off 1-0 with opening win against FBS opponents and both have inexperienced junior quarterbacks who are taking over for long-tenured predecessors.
However, there are differences as well.
The Cyclones are bumbling and stumbling their way to Kinnick Stadium to face their in-state rival Hawkeyes after barely eking out a 20-19 win over Northern Iowa last week. Meanwhile, Iowa will be looking to build upon a solid start to the season, which saw the team handle Tennessee Tech 34-7 in its home opener in Iowa City.
The Hawkeye offense is predicated around the tandem of quarterback James Vandenberg and senior wideout and Biletnikoff Watch Lister Marvin McNutt. The two combined six times for 140 yards and two scores against Tennessee Tech, the first of which going for 88 yards. It will be a handful for senior corners Ter'Ran Benton and Leonard Johnson no matter where McNutt lines up, but the defensive backfield is the strength of the Cyclone defense.
That fact puts the onus on Iowa sophomore tailback Marcus Coker to bounce back from a game in which he fumbled twice and was benched by head coach Kirk Ferentz in favor of freshman Mika'il McCall. But McCall, after impressing on his debut, broke his ankle late in the first quarter last weekend, putting an end to his season. Coker, at 6-0, 230, has shown ability before.
He rushed for a school bowl-record 219 yards in the 2010 Insight Bowl, but appears to lack confidence early this season. If he’s right, expect big numbers against a lackluster Cyclone defensive line and defensive game-plan designed around stopping the pass. If he continues to suffer from the dropsies, true freshman De’Andre Johnson will get an opportunity to feature. He was awarded eight carries in his collegiate debut, going for 32 yards.
For State, all eyes will be on junior quarterback Steele Jantz, who is coming off a very shaky first career start in which he completed fewer than half of his passes and threw three interceptions. Now that he’s playing against a big-time opponent, Jantz will need to shake off his nervousness, settle down, and play all 60 minutes with the poise he showed while leading the Cyclones on consecutive scoring drives in the final 4:30 of last Saturday’s game. Jantz was clutch and in control, leading his team back from deficits twice, and rushing for the game winning points on a one-yard sneak.
Shaun Prater, the senior All-Big Ten cornerback for the Hawkeyes, will be waiting to jump on any mistake from Jantz – just like he did against the Golden Eagles last Saturday when he returned an interception 89 yards for a score.
Iowa holds a 39-19 all-time advantage in meetings between the two teams.