2010 record: 8-5 (4-4), beat Missouri in Insight Bowl
Coach: Kirk Ferentz (13th year, 89-60)
Series: Iowa leads 41-27-4
TV: noon, TBA
Blogs: Black Heart Gold Pants
Indiana will travel to Iowa to play the Hawkeyes in what has become one of the livelier series in the Big Ten. In the last five meetings, Iowa holds a 3-2 lead, but the games in 2006, 2009, and 2010 all could have gone the other way, and IU's 2007 upset at Iowa City was memorable, to say the least. In 2006, Kellen Lewis threw 3 touchdown passes to James Hardy and led IU to a 31-28 home upset of the #13 Hawkeyes. In 2007, 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, including one to himself on one of the wackiest plays I can recall. Iowa blew out IU's horrible 2008 team. In 2009, IU blew a 14 point second half lead against the undefeated and top five-ranked Hawkeyes, thanks to some poor decisions, odd 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 a loss that may well have cost Bill Lynch his job.
After an up-and-down career that culminated in a really strong senior season, Ricky Stanzi is gone, undoubtedly off to join former Illinois player J Leman in some business venture involving American flag apparel. Redshirt junior James Vandenberg apparently will start at QB for the Hawkeyes. Vandenberg threw only 8 passes last season backing up Stanzi, but did start three games in 2009. His best game in 2009 was a 20-33, 233 yard, 2 TD/3INT performance in a loss to Ohio State. Last year's leading rusher, Adam Robinson, was thrown off the team, and Jewel Hampton transferred to Northern Iowa, which leaves Marcus Coker, who ran for 599 yards and 3 TD last season, as the starter. Coker, a sophomore, had his breakout game against IU last year, running for 127 yards on 22 carries, and was fantastic in the Insight Bowl against Missouri, running for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns on 33 carries. Marvin McNutt returns as Iowa's leading receiver. He gained 861 yards last year and caught 7 touchdowns. The second-leading receiver in 2010, Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, also was thrown off the team, and after McNutt, the Hawkeyes' leading returning receiver is tight end Colin Sandeman, who caught 21 passes for 227 yards. The Hawkeye defense returns Shaun Prater at cornerback, Tyler Nielsen and James Morris at linebacker, and Mike Daniels at DT, but will be replacing most starters from 2010.
I suppose I feel better about IU's chances in this game after writing this preview. I did not realize how much Iowa had to replace on both sides of the ball. This has been a surprisingly competitive series over the last five years. It would be surprising if that trend continued, but that has been the nature of the series. The last two trips to Iowa City have accounted for the strangest win (well, maybe at Oregon in 2004) and strangest loss in my time as an IU fan. Will it continue?