An exciting in-state rivalry is on tap for Saturday as Iowa welcomes Iowa State to Kinnick Stadium.
Both the Hawkeyes and the Cyclones fared well in their season openers—though one fared a bit better than the other. Iowa just managed to squeak by Northern Illinois with a come-from-behind, 18-17 victory, while Iowa State handily defeated Tulsa, 38-23, even after letting the Golden Hurricanes stake a 16-7 lead in the first quarter.
The Cyclones defense held Tulsa to a single touchdown for the rest of the game and managed to escape unscathed—but on Saturday, neither of these teams will have any room for error.
Here's how you can make sure you don't miss a second of the action.
Where: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, Iowa
When: Saturday, September 8 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Betting Line (via BetLegends): Iowa -4
Iowa Injuries (via USAToday.com):
- Running back Barkley Hill is out for the season after tearing his ACL.
- Defensive back Ruben Lile is out for the season due to a knee injury.
- Running back Jordan Canzeri is out for the season due to a torn ACL.
- Defensive back Collin Sleeper has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.
Iowa State Injuries (via USAToday.com):
No injuries to report.
AP/USA Today Top-25 Poll Implications
Though both Iowa and Iowa State won their season openers, they didn't triumph over the strongest of opponents—so whichever team wins this one certainly has a better shot at the polls than the other.
The good news for Iowa is that it has two winnable games coming up after Iowa State, including Northern Iowa and Central Michigan—both at home. It will take more than that for the Hawkeyes to put themselves into top-25 consideration, but it will certainly help.
If the Cyclones can get by Iowa, Western Illinois, Texas Tech and TCU, they'll be in very good shape, but that will prove to be much easier said than done—especially when that quest begins with a road game against their in-state rival.
What They're Saying
Iowa's come-from-behind victory over Northern Illinois was carried out by one player: running back Damon Bullock. The sophomore was called upon in a third-and-9 situation on Saturday with the Hawkeyes down by five, and he scored to give Iowa a lead it wouldn't relinquish, according to ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers.
Bullock's final line—150 yards on 30 carries—surprised even his coach, Kirk Ferentz. Ferentz told Powers:
I didn’t know what to expect. [Bullock’s] a very young guy, second year on campus. He didn’t have many yards last season, period. …I though he made some real tough runs and did some good things. I’m certainly pleased with this being a first step for him.
Iowa State's experience on Saturday wasn't quite as suspenseful. In part, the Cyclones' success was due to the play of their own backfield star, Shontrelle Johnson, who returned after missing most of 2011 with a neck injury, according to the Associated Press.
Johnson rushed for 120 yards against Tulsa, and though the padded stat line was nice, the fact that he was back on the field again was reward enough. After the win, he told the AP of being back in action:
It's a good feeling. I wasn't 100 percent sure if I'd be able to play again. But I got the word from the [doctors] and it felt good to be back out with my boys.
Iowa Player to Watch
Quarterback James Vandenberg wasn't bad against Northern Illinois last weekend, he just wasn't as effective as he needed to be in order to put the Hawkeyes in a decisive position to win.
The senior threw for 129 yards with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions, with a completion percentage of about 64. It was fine, but he is going to need to be much better if the Hawkeyes are going to have a chance at beating a Big 12 opponent.
Last season, Vandenberg threw for 3,022 total yards and 25 touchdowns with an average rating of 138.5. He's going to need to get right back to where he left off in order to get this offense rolling.
Iowa State Player to Watch
Often, the play of special teams members goes under-appreciated, but the truth is that a competent punter can be the difference between a top-25 team and a mediocre team.
That's why the Cyclones are lucky they have punter Kirby Van Der Kemp, who was named the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week on Tuesday, according to David Ubben of ESPN.com.
According to Ubben, Van Der Kemp booted nine punts in the Cyclones' win on Saturday and averaged 43 yards on each of them; five landed inside the 20-yard line. Judging from that, it's easy to see why Tulsa had a tough time engineering some key scoring drives.
Iowa could be in for the same struggles if Van Der Kemp submits another performance like that.
This is the battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy, and as can be expected, these two teams are playing for pride just as much as they're playing for their second wins of the season.
This is also Iowa's home opener, and there would be no better way to welcome back the fans than by throttling Iowa State right in front of them to improve to 2-0.
According to HawkeyeSports.com, Iowa has won each of the last four meetings between these two teams that have been played on its home turf, and it has won its home opener for 11 straight seasons. None of that bodes well for the Cyclones.
But then again, we all saw how much the Hawkeyes offense struggled in the Week 1. Maybe this is the year the streak is shattered.
Prediction: Iowa Wins
The Cyclones may have put up more points in the season opener, but now that Iowa has had time to work out the kinks—and now that it has been energized by last week's scare—it will work itself up to a big win over its in-state rival at home. The odds and the history are too heavily in the Hawkeyes' favor to ignore.