In the post-Mallory era, IU has more wins against Iowa (5) than against any other Big Ten school except Illinois. Most of IU's wins during that period came during Iowa's down years at the end of Hayden Fry's tenure and beginning of Kirk Ferentz's. IU managed a surprising two-game winning streak in 2006 and 2007 but Iowa has won the last two. Iowa's 42-24 win over 2009 was one of the strangest games of last season or any season. IU inexplicably built a huge lead against the #4, 8-0 Hawkeyes, thanks in large part to Iowa turnovers. One of the strangest plays I've ever seen, and unquestionably the pivotal play of the game, came midway through the third quarter. IU led 21-7 when Ricky Stanzi threw an interception that was returned to the Iowa 4. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts to get into the end zone, Ben Chappell's pass ricocheted off a number of players before ending up in the hands of Iowa's Tyler Sash for a 86-yard TD return. Later in the game, with IU still leading 24-14, the Big Ten replay official inexcusably reversed a Terrance Turner touchdown that would have given IU a 31-14 lead. The Hawkeyes exploded for 28 points in the fourth quarter, and that was that. Ben Chappell and Ricky Stanzi are two of the most highly-regarded returning quarterbacks in the Big Ten, but neither was worth a damn last Halloween: Chappell threw three interceptions and Stanzi threw five.
But enough about last year. The Hawkeyes are #10 in the preseason coaches' poll. Stanzi, of course, is much-discussed, but the running game and defense were key to Iowa's 2009 success. Stanzi averaged 219 yards per game, completed only 56 percent of his passes, and threw 17 touchdowns to 15 interceptions (the last numbers are very similar to Ben Chappell's). Leading rusher Adam Robinson returns, as does Jewel Hampton, who was excellent as a freshman before missing 2009 with an injury. Brandon Wegher, however, has missed the last four days of practice, and no one seems to know why. Still, the cupboard would not be bare without him. Iowa's top two receivers, Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Marvin McNutt, reutrn, but the Hawkeyes will miss Tony Moeaki.
Still, the defense was the strength of last year's Iowa team, ranking #10 nationally in total defense, #3 in pass defense, and #34 in rush defense. The Hawkeyes return eight of eleven starters to the defense, including Tyler Sash, he of the 86-yard interception return, as does defensive end Adrian Clayborn and others.
This game is in Bloomington, although the Hoosiers have played better on their last two trips to Iowa City than in the Hawkeyes' last trip to Bloomington in 2008. Iowa will be heavily favored again, but IU has overachieved in three of the last four games against Iowa and hopefully the trend will continue.