WHO: Colorado State Rams (1-2)
WHEN: 2:30 p.m. CT (Saturday, September 25)
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: sunny, highs in the 70s
LINE: Iowa -23.5 (TOTAL: 43.5)
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.)
Colorado State is 1-2 on the season, having lost nearly 20 at home to South Dakota State and giving up a narrow home game against a very poor Vanderbilt team before leaving on the road to upset a Toledo team that was neck and neck with Notre Dame the week before. Plus, they beat the Rockets with relative ease, 22-6. How did they do it?
Defense, defense and even more defense – and some strong special teams. After averaging 7.7 yards per game and 441 yards against Norfolk State and 5.6 yards per game and 353 yards against Notre Dame, the Toledo offense has only collected 4.2 yards per game and 295 yards per game. attack against the Rams – including just 14 rushing yards. Six Colorado State quarterback sacks ate in that total, but the Toledo non-QBs ran just 30 yards on 15 carries. The CSU’s run defense has also become increasingly stingy – after allowing 240 yards and four touchdowns (on 7 ypc) against South Dakota State, they limited Vanderbilt to just 104 yards and one touchdown. (over 2.8 ypc) before completely smothering Toledo.
Will this be a game where Iowa’s passing game needs to carry more load on offense? Colorado State has been strong, but not exceptional against passing so far this season, allowing opponents to complete 61% of their passes for about 248 yards per game. They conceded four touchdowns and did not force any interceptions. Petras and Iowa’s passing offense looked a bit more effective against Kent State last week, but they may need to show even more production this week if the running game fails to find early traction. against the top seven of CSU.
Colorado State has not been particularly exceptional on offense, although they rank ahead of Iowa in all categories (not a particularly difficult feat to accomplish yet, be warned). The Rams are 69th (good) in yards per game (409) but 99th in yards per game (5.2). They are 50th nationally in rush offense, averaging 180 yards per game on 4.4 yards per carry with three touchdowns. SR running back David Bailey is their first rusher (86 YPG, 4 YPC, 2 TD), although quarterback Todd Centeio also has some mobility – he’s averaging 49 YPG and 4.7 YPC. Speaking of Centeio, their passing attack didn’t do much: 229 YPG, 55% completion. 6.0 years per year, 3 TD, 2 INT. Centeio’s favorite target – by far – is TE Trey McBride, who has nearly half of his receptions this year (30 of 64) and a high of 339 yards on reception (although he has so far only had one of their three touchdowns.). He’ll be a good test for Iowa linebackers (or maybe cash Dane Belton) when it comes to coverage.
Colorado State also has a strong special teams game, although it was stronger than usual against Toledo. After starting the year with just 1/4 field goal, Cayden Camper scored 5/5 (!) Field goal against Toledo, including two 40+ kicks (42 and 47 yards). He scored 7/13 on the pitch two seasons ago (he didn’t play in 2020), so the 5/5 performance against Toledo may be more of an outlier than the norm for him. Outside of Camper’s kicks, CSU’s only points against Toledo came on a 70-yard punt return by Thomas Pannunzio. It was only Pannunzio’s third punt return of his career, however. And we’re remiss if we haven’t mentioned three-time (!) Reigning Ryan Stonehouse, Mountain West’s all-conference punter, who’s averaging 52 yards per kick this season. Iowa have had a decisive advantage to the punter in their first three games this season, which has helped them steadily win the battle for field position and give Petras and the offense shorter pitches, but it might not be easy to do against the Rams with a punter from Stonehouse against Tory Taylor’s precision bombs.
While Colorado State is 1-2, they’re doing things that might make it tough for Iowa today. Their running defense looks pretty solid and they have a great punter to pin Iowa deep if (when?) Iowa’s defense thwarts them. They’re a more physical team than most of the teams Iowa have played so far this year and they’re probably going to make this game a nasty grinder. That said, Iowa’s defense is great and I don’t expect Colorado State to have much success moving the ball over them. But it wouldn’t shock me to see the offense struggling to get things on track against the Rams this week, especially if Tyler Goodson & Co. are stuck in the running game. The Iowa defense has scored in every game so far this season; it would be nice if they could extend that streak again this week. I think we will have a low scoring game and a closer game than we would like for a while.
IOWA 27, STATE OF COLORADO 10