WHO: # 17 Indiana Hoosiers (0-0)
WHEN: 2:30 p.m. CT (Saturday September 4)
OR: Kinnick Stadium (Iowa City, IA)
RADIO: Hawkeye Radio Network (TuneIn or local listings) | SiriusXM Ch. 195
MOBILE: Fox Sports app
TWITTER: @IowaFBLive | @ IowaGénial | @IowaOnBTN
WEATHER SITUATION: weather in the 70s, partly cloudy
LINE: Iowa -3.5 (TOTAL: 46)
NOTE: Be sure to keep up with all the action while in-game and chat with your Iowa fan friends on the Go Iowa Awesome discord! (More info here.)
We did it, guys. Iowa football is finally BACK. And back with the fans, bands, hatchbacks, and all that we hold dear about the college football experience. College football last year was a weird, bastardized version of the experience (for understandable reasons), but the real deal hangs in the balance today. And what a way to welcome fans to Kinnick Stadium for the first time in 22 months with a Top 20 slugfest between # 17 Indiana and # 18 Iowa.
It is always difficult to preview the matches of the first week because you have so few ideas what to expect from a team; they haven’t played this season yet, so they haven’t set any sort of benchmark for performance. It’s always difficult to look back on last season’s performances for advice on the current season, but it’s nearly impossible with last season’s performances, given how COVID has twisted things. Which teams were real? Which teams were not and benefited from the absences induced by COVID among their opponents?
Indiana has been credited as one of the ‘for real’ teams in 2020 and is also expected to post a strong performance in 2021, in large part because of the talent they bring back from last year, especially in positions. of competence. Quarterback Michael Penix threw for 1,645 yards and a 14-4 TD: INT ratio before injury ended his season prematurely. His most explosive target, Ty Fryfogle, is also back after collecting 37 receptions for 721 yards and seven touchdowns. An average of almost 20 yards per catch on over 30 receptions is a pretty impressive result; Fryfogle is a great game waiting to happen. Penix was not without its flaws, however – its completion percentage was 56% last season.
The Hoosiers have a new face at RB following the departure of last year’s top forward Stevie Scott in the offseason. Scott ran for 561 yards and 10 touchdowns on 156 carries (3.6 ypc) last season. His main replacement is USC transfer Stephen Carr. He’ll run behind an offensive line that sends back several experienced players, but no outstanding performers.
In defense, the Hoosiers’ strengths and weaknesses mirror Iowa: a lot of talent and experience back in the last seven, but a few question marks up front. The Indiana defensive line lost two players in the NFL Draft last season, so resupplying and rebuilding the defensive front could be an issue for a Hoosier pass that was one of the Big Ten’s best in the world. last season. They paved the way for a defense that led the Big Ten in sacks (25) and forced turnovers (20).
But, as previously reported, the Hoosiers are coming back a lot in the last seven, led by All-American linebacker (and main tackle) Micah McFadden. The Hoosiers are also firing all of their best cornerbacks and one of their best goalies (Devon Matthews). They have the knack in the last seven to make it tough for Spencer Petras and his less experienced collection of wide receivers.
The key questions for Iowa in this game:
Can Iowa’s pass rush reach Penix and force him to make hasty decisions and bad throws?
Can Iowa High school contain Fryfogle? Iowa’s defense is built around preventing the big game, but Fryfogle is a big game waiting to happen.
Can Petras avoid turnovers against a talented and experienced secondary Hoosier?
Both Iowa and Indiana have rebuilt offensive and defensive lines – which new look unit in the trenches achieves the fastest speed?
I have been feeling nervous about this game for months. Iowa is a notoriously slow start-up team under Ferentz; they have a dazzling first week record in large part because they plan for success. They hardly ever play against 5-power opponents in the first week, let alone a Top 20-ranked foe. Iowa’s top two teams have played in the season opener since then. 2001 – Northern Illinois in 2013 and, arguably, Purdue last season – both recorded wins, in large part because Iowa was not yet strong enough. Indiana is certainly good enough to make Iowa pay for times of neglect today. We’re going to need to see an Iowa team that’s better than it ever was in the Ferentz era.
And yet … I can’t bring myself to get upset either. I expect letting go on both sides, but I think Tyler Goodson, Tyrone Tracy and Sam LaPorta will make enough plays on offense, while we see moments of escape in defense from Yahya Black and Noah Shannon. I think it’s close, but Iowa wins.
PREDICTION: Iowa 27, Indiana 21