CFB Preview: No. 16 Iowa-Iowa State

BY foxsports • September 6, 2016

Iowa was outgained by Miami University 424 yards to 404 yards, ran 20 fewer plays and its offense had the ball nearly 13 minutes less than the RedHawks in the season opener in the season opener.

And yet the 16th-ranked Hawkeyes came out comfortably on top, scoring early and often in a 45-21 victory at Kinnick Stadium.

Iowa remains at home this weekend and hopes to get off to a 2-0 start when it faces in-state rival Iowa State on Saturday night (7:30 p.m., Big Ten Network) before a sellout crowd in another nonconference game. The Cyclones come in 0-1 after losing 25-20 at home to FCS opponent Northern Iowa last Saturday in coach Matt Campbell's first game as Cyclones coach.

The Hawkeyes defeated the Cyclones 31-17 last year in Ames, but Iowa State has won three of the last five meetings in the series, including its last two visits to Iowa City.

"One guarantee is there will be a lot of talk border to border about the game," said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, who Tuesday received a contract extension through the 2026 season and a raise from $4.075 million to $4.5 million annually. "And that's one of the great things about playing an instate rival like this. It's good for the entire state of Iowa."

Campbell gets his first taste of the intense intrastate CyHawk series. As Toledo's coach before he took the Iowa State job, he experienced a similar rivalry with Bowling Green, located 20 miles down the road.

"I think the key is you have to stay within yourself," Campbell said. "It's like very other football game, where the team that take care of the football, the team that manages throughout the football game, is the team that's going to have success.

"I think our kids know that, and unfortunately, we had to learn a really valuable lesson again in that last Saturday, but it's a lesson that's really valuable for us going forward."

The statistics from Iowa's opener were skewed because the offense was so efficient and the defense created turnovers that resulted in scores.

The Hawkeyes burst out to a 21-0 lead after one quarter, led 28-7 at the half and were up 35-7 early in the third quarter. Miami came back with two touchdowns to close the gap, but Iowa responded with the game's final two scores.

When Iowa did have the ball, the offense overpowered Miami's defense. The 1-2 punch of running backs Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels helped the Hawkeyes amass 212 yards on the ground for a 7.3-yard average per carry. Wadley and Daniels each scored two rushing touchdowns in the first half and finished with 121 yards and 83 yards on the ground, respectively.

The Hawkeyes no doubt will be looking for more of the same on Saturday against an Iowa State defense that gave up 232 yards rushing against Northern Iowa.

"That line we've got -- James Daniels, (Sean) Welsh, Ike (Boettger) leading the way -- anybody could run behind them," Wadley said.

Iowa's defense didn't measure up to its offense against the RedHawks, allowing Miami to march 75, 74 and 75 yards for its touchdowns and gain 266 yards through the air. Part of the RedHawks' offensive success could be attributable to the defense being on the field so much of the day and also in part because middle linebacker Josey Jewell, last year's leading tackler, was ejected early in the first quarter after a targeting penalty.

"Losing Josey kind of hurt us on the defensive side, especially in the run game," Iowa cornerback Desmond King said. "They were averaging six and seven yards a carry on first down, so it put our defense in a tough position."

Whatever the case -- and Ferentz wasn't making excuses -- the Iowa defense will be out to clean up their performance this week while facing Iowa State's All-Big 12 running back Mike Warren, who rushed for 1,339 yards in 2015. Cyclones quarterback Joel Lanning completed 18 of 28 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions against Northern Iowa.

"It looked a little bit like we were overthinking," Ferentz said. "We weren't as aggressive as a result of that, playing the run, but we're going to have to do a better job there."

The run defense, in particular, concerns Ferentz going into week two.

"What it boils down to is us trying to play a better game than we played (Saturday)," he said. "Hopefully, you make that improvement week one to week two and line up as a better football team on Saturday."

Redshirt freshman defensive end Anthony Nelson was a pleasant surprise in the opener with 2 1/2 sacks, six tackles and two forced fumbles. His contributions could be needed again this week with defensive end Parker Hesse questionable because of a hamstring injury.

The Hawkeyes are hoping oft-injured wide receiver Jay Scheel is able to play this week. He sat out the opener because of injury concerns.

"Jay, I think he has a chance," Ferentz said. "He's moving closer."

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