Iowa-Arizona: The Advantage Goes To...
When Iowa runs the ball: It seems as though Iowa finally has an answer at running back. Adam Robinson was good against Iowa State, but the real story was true freshman Brandon Wegher. He rushed for 101 yards on 15 carriers and a touchdown. The duo should fill the hold left by Shonn Greene and will do even better once redshirt freshman Jeff Brinson is healthy again. Arizona has a good run defense, but expect Wegher to eclipse the 100 yard mark again, since the whole offensive line is finally back.
When Iowa throws the ball: Although quarterback Ricky Stanzi threw for a career high four touchdowns, his day wasn't nearly as good as it could have been. He missed a lot of open receivers down the field and overthrew some receivers who could have run for sure touchdowns. He was good in play-action, which the Hawkeyes went back to at the end of the game, but needs to show that "Tom Brady" skill experts have described in him. The wide receivers looked good, as did tight ends Alan Reisner and Tony Moeaki. While Stanzi can easily prove me wrong, as Iowa's secondary did last week, I have to go with the Arizona defense on this one.
When Arizona runs the ball: Iowa's run defense was spectacular once again against Iowa State and they should keep up that high level of play. The defensive line hasn't lost a step with the departure of Mitch King and Matt Kroul. Arizona has been very good running the ball thus far this season, but they haven't seen anything like Iowa's defense. Expect the Iowa run defense to keep the Wildcats under 100 yards rushing.
When Arizona throws the ball: Last week I decided not to pick Iowa when Iowa State throws the ball, calling that area "even", and boy did the Hawkeye secondary show me up. They intercepted the Cyclones five times and forced a fumble. Not surprisingly, Tyler Sash, who finished the day with three interceptions and a forced fumble, was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. They should keep up that production against Arizona and I don't see them having any problem limiting Arizona's pass offense.
Special Teams: This is a toss up. Arizona hasn't proven themself and Iowa hasn't performed exceptionally well. I expect the Hawkeyes to make and miss a field goal, as the seem to do every week, while Arizona will make two. Therefore, Arizona gets the edge.
Coaching: Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz did a much better job of motivating his team against Iowa State than he did against UNI. That motivation should carry over into this week. Ferentz is also one of the mentors of Arizona coach Mike Stoops, who played linebacker at Iowa in the 80's. I expect the mentor to out coach his protege in this game.
Intangibles: Arizona will likely be taken by surprise by the hostile environment at Kinnick Stadium. Outside of USC and Oregon, this is the toughest place many of these players will play at during their career. Expect another sellout crowd to rattle the Wildcats around throughout the game.
Outcome: Iowa will come into this game with a lot of momentum after beating in-state rival Iowa State 35-3. The game will start out as a defensive struggle, but the Hawkeyes will pull ahead in the second quarter. Expect another 100 yard day and a touchdown from running back Brandon Wegher and a good day from Adam Robinson, who will also rush for a touchdown. Ricky Stanzi will have another decent day, with 200 yards and a touchdown and the Hawkeyes will also tack on a field goal. Arizona won't be ready for a tough Iowa defense and expect them to struggle until late in the game. The Hawkeyes should come out of this game with a quality win and even more momentum heading into a date with Penn State in Happy Valley.
Score: Iowa 24, Arizona 13
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