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An early look at the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Iowa Hawkeyes
Last meeting: 10/11/2008 (Iowa 45, IU 9 in Bloomington)
Last IU win: 9/29/2007 (IU 38, Iowa 20 in Iowa City)
Series: Iowa leads 39-27-4.
Kirk Ferentz (11th season, 70-53)

Indiana's 2006 and 2007 games against Iowa are among the highlights of recent years for IU.  In 2006, IU upset then 15th-ranked Iowa in Bloomington, thanks to three touchdown passes from Kellen Lewis to James Hardy.  That win allowed IU to stay in the bowl hunt until the end of the season, although IU ultimately finished 5-7.  In 2007, IU traveled to Iowa City, jumped to a 21-0 lead, and held on to win 38-20.  That win, a week after a disappointing home loss to Illinois, kept IU's postseason hopes alive.  Really, the 2006 and 2008 games have been bookends of sorts for the Hawkeyes.  In 2006, the Hawkeyes came to Bloomington 5-1, but including the IU game, Iowa finished 1-6, although they nearly upset Texas in the Alamo Bowl.  In 2007, Iowa finished 6-6 and missed the postseason for the first time since 2000, thanks to a home loss to Western Michigan on the final day of the season (a game that saved IU from having to play in the Motor City Bowl, probably).  Last year, Iowa entered the IU game with a 3-3 record, but the Hawkeyes had lost three in a row to the only decent teams they had played to date.  Iowa won easily, 45-9, and finished the season by winning 6 of 7, including a 31-10 whipping of South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.


In other words, when we last saw Iowa, the Hawkeyes showed signs of returning to their early-decade dominance.  Will that continue?  The Hawkeyes enter the season ranked #21 in the coaches' poll.  The Hawkeyes benefited in 2008 from the performance of two late-emerging starters, running back Shonn Greene and QB Ricky Stanzi.  Greene is now in the NFL, but Stanzi returns.  Greene was amazing, running for 1850 yards and 20 TDs, but his backup and the 2009 starter, Jewel Hampton, had a nice season as well (463 yards, 5.1 average, 7 TDs).  Hampton has been plagued by a knee injury, but is expected to play.  Thanks to Greene, Iowa didn't have to ask much of Stanzi, but he completed abotu 60 percent of his passes and averaged 150 yards a game (14 TD/9 INT).   Iowa loses a couple of its top receivers, but the Hawkeyes weren't exactly a passing team.  Finally, the Hawkeyes return nearly all of a highly regarded offensive line.The defense has some holes to fill, particularly at tackle, but the defensive ends, plus middle linebacker AJ Edds (from Greenwood, Indiana) are back. 

Last year's defense was one of the best in the country.  The Hawkeyes ranked #12 in total defense, #9 in rushing defense,  #47 in pass defense, #4 in yards per passing play allowed, and #9 in yards per rushing play allowed.  On offense, the passing game did not overwhelm, but the Hawkeyes ranked #25 nationally with 4.8 yards per rush, almost always a recipe for success.

The outlook for this game is not promising, but given IU's relative success against Iowa (IU's 4-4 record against Iowa since 1997 is IU's best post-Mallory record against any Big Ten team), I suppose it's okay to retain a bit of optimism.

As for the 2008 game?  I almost forgot, and for good reason.  The Hawkeyes never trailed, led 17-3 at halftime, and expanded their lead in the second half.  I had nothing much to say about the game then, and certainly nothing good.