2011 record: 4-2 (1-1)
2010 record: 8-5 (4-4), beat Missouri in Insight Bowl
2011 Sagarin: 52 (IU is #130)
2010 Sagarin: 21 (IU was #98)
Coach: Kirk Ferentz (13th season, 93-62)
Series: Iowa leads 41-27-4
TV: noon, Big Ten Network
Blog: Black Heart Gold Pants
(Sorry for the late posting of this one. The Gunner Kiel story and other issues intervened).
IU's eventual elimination from postseason contention is inevitable, but it's sobering to be staring it down on October 22. The Hoosiers head to Iowa City tomorrow to play the Hawkeyes in what has been one of the liveliest series in the conference. Four of the last five games have been among the most memorable IU games in the last decade. In 2006, Kellen Lewis threw 3 touchdown passes to James Hardy and led IU to a 31-28 home upset of the #13 Hawkeyes. Terry Hoeppner declared the IU football program "a shooting rocket." Unfortunately, Hoeppner was dead nine months later. In 2007, led by interim coach Bill Lynch, IU traveled to Iowa City and jumped out to a 21-0 lead and held on to win 38-20. Lewis threw 3 touchdown passes, and his wild fumble recovery followed by a backflip into the end zone was credited as one of them. Iowa won big in 2008, but in 2009, IU blew a 14 point second half lead against the undefeated and top five-ranked Hawkeyes, thanks to some poor decisions, worse officiating, and one of the worst bounces I've ever seen. In 2010, of course, Damarlo Belcher dropped the game-winning TD late in the fourth quarter. In short, in four of the last five matchups, whether IU or Iowa was a good team or bad team had little impact on the direction of the game.
This year, we all know where the Hoosiers stand, but what about Iowa? The Hawkeyes record is superficially respectable, and while the loss to in-state rival Iowa State had to sting, the Hawks are undefeated at home and their only conference loss was at Penn State. The Hawkeyes exercised their Northwestern demons last week, and now face IU and Minnesota in successive weeks before playing division rivals Michigan and Michigan State, both at home. Iowa hasn't impressed yet, but it's mathematically possible that Iowa could be playing for a trip to Indianapolis when they finish the season with a trip to Nebraska. On the other hand, based on the loss to ISU and the flirtation with disaster against Pitt, the Hawkeyes probably shouldn't overlook anyone.
|Marvin McNutt Jr.||6||35||573||95.5||16.4||5|
James Vandenberg has faced the unenviable task of replacing Ricky Stanzi, and he seems to be doing pretty well. Other than a rough performance against Penn State's defense, he has been pretty solid in every other game. Marcus Coker, with good but not overwhelming numbers, has taken the bulk of Iowa's carries, and Vandenberg's primary receiving targets have been the ageless Marvin McNutt, Keenan Davis, and Kevonte Martin-Manley.
On defense, LB sJ ames Morris and Christian Kirksey lead the way in tackles, and cornerback Micah Hyde has three interceptions. Frankly, I clicked on Iowa's team stats, expecting to see that Iowa's offense was offset by an excellent defense, but that really hasn't been the case. The Hawkeyes rank #79 nationally in total defense, although a better #43 in scoring defense. Penn State is the only team Iowa has played that has a winning record. Really, taking a look at where the Hawkeyes stand really makes me wish that the 2011 Hoosiers were only garden-variety bad instead of being a total dumpster fire. This Iowa team is perhaps the least formidable since the 2007 version.
All that said, the Hoosiers are in a bad place, with the Gunner Kiel decommitment, a 1-6 record that means the next lost will guarantee a losing season, and two blowout losses in a row. Injuries are mounting. Dusty Kiel's high ankle sprain means that Edward Wright-Baker and Tre Roberson will likely share time at quarterback (with Kofi Hughes continuing to take a few snaps in the Wildcat). The secondary is getting very thin, with Chris Adkins, Jarrell Drane, and Donnell Jones all out. Center Will Matte will miss the Iowa game, the first missed start of his career. Damarlo Belcher won't play, either.
Things are grim, but it's Indiana-Iowa, so I expect to be toyed with: Iowa 28, Indiana 20.