Iowa Football: Four Former Hawkeyes in NFC Championship Game

Previewing the four former Iowa football players in the NFC Championship Game this Sunday

The Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons will play for a spot in the Super Bowl on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. CT. In the Georgia Dome, four former Iowa football players will suit up.

Micah Hyde, Mike Daniels and Bryan Bulaga are on the fourth-seeded Packers, while Jonathan Babineaux is on the second-seeded Falcons. Former Hawkeye Adrian Clayborn is also on Atlanta, but he tore his bicep during last week’s win over the Seattle Seahawks and is out for the season.

Without Clayborn, one of Atlanta’s top pass rushers, the Falcons needed other players on their defense to step up. Ironically, former Hawkeye Jonathan Babineaux did just that in their win.

He recorded three tackles and a sack in his sixth career postseason game.

This will be Babineaux’s second career NFC Championship Game with the Falcons. In 2012, the Falcons lost 28-24 to the San Francisco 49ers. Babineaux finished tied third on the team with three tackles against a 49ers team.

Babineaux has also faced the Packers seven times before in his career, including once this year. He only recorded one tackle in their 33-32 win, however has nine tackles and 0.5 sacks against the Packers in his career.

He will be trying to penetrate an offensive line that features former Hawkeye Bryan Bulaga. The seven-year vet has been an integral part of getting Green Bay’s offense back on track this season.

In the playoffs, he’s led a team that has gained 406 and 413 yards in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the first time Green Bay has gained 400-plus yards in back-to-back weeks since November.

On the other side, Mike Daniels and Micah Hyde have been key pieces to Green Bay’s defense.

Daniels, a defensive lineman, has started every game for the Packers this season and recorded six tackles in the first two rounds of the playoffs, including a season-high four tackles in the first round against the New York Giants.

Along with finding success in the playoffs, Daniels recorded one of his four sacks in 2016 against the Falcons in week eight. That said, in three career games against the Falcons, Daniels has just two tackles and one sack.

Although Micah Hyde has arguably been Green Bay’s best defensive player this postseason. He has 10 tackles, a sack and an interception when he cut in front of a Dez Bryant intended screen pass last week against Dallas.

Hyde only recorded one tackle in Green Bay’s week eight loss to Atlanta, but he’s been a big reason the Packers are still in the playoffs. His coverage mixed with the ability to rush the passer has been second to none this postseason.

Plus, Hyde is averaging a solid 10 yards per punt return this postseason after averaging just 5.8 per return during the regular season.

Despite his mere one tackle in week eight against Atlanta, Hyde has found some success versus the Falcons in the past. In three career games, he has eight tackles and is averaging 10.7 yards per punt return on three attempts. Considering the way he’s played this postseason, expect Hyde to rebound from his poor showing earlier in the year.

Iowa football will have at least one former player in the Super Bowl this year. The winner of this game will play the winner of the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, February 5 in Houston, Texas.

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