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Storylines abound for Hawkeyes after bye week

[ 0 ] October 7, 2012 |

Let’s get it out there now, front and center, as Iowa enters its preparation week for Saturday’s 11 a.m. Big Ten Conference football game at Michigan State.

Quarterback James Vandenberg hasn’t fared well on the road. The Hawkeyes haven’t done well recently after inactive Saturdays like last weekend’s.

And there’s still a question about the availability of starting cornerback Micah Hyde — a team captain — after his Saturday morning arrest.

First things first, however.

There is no way Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio allows anyone under his domain to even daydream about what lies beyond — the game that will be played at Michigan’s Big House on the Saturday after his team hosts Iowa.

While Michigan State fans may consider 3-2 Iowa to be a schedule appetizer and the Wolverines the main course, that won’t be the case with Dantonio after his 4-2 Spartans rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat league-winless Indiana by just four points last Saturday.

“We didn’t run the ball effectively,” Dantonio told reporters. “We didn’t throw the ball very effectively, either.

“The end result is that we won the football game. The end result is that we played well down the stretch.

“Maybe more impressively than anything is the way we came back, and to me, that sends messages to people.”

Dantonio’s record on Saturdays before the Michigan State-Michigan game is 2-3, and it includes a
34-27 double overtime loss against the Hawkeyes in 2007.

Now let’s move to more relevant —– and maybe some not-so-relevant — potential headlines regarding this game and beyond:

Vandenberg: On the Road Again

Talk about the 800-pound gorilla Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg carries in his backpack …

The senior has a chance to change fan perception Saturday, and believe it: It’s not just perception.

Iowa has a 2-6 road record with Vandenberg as the starter, compared to 9-3 at Kinnick Stadium.

Competition has been stiff outside Iowa City, including games against No.8 Ohio State in 2009, and No.22 Nebraska last season before the Insight Bowl loss against 14th-rated Oklahoma in Tempe, Ariz.

Those were setbacks against teams that beat a lot of quarterbacks, not just Vandenberg.

The senior’s home record against rated opponents is 1-1 — beating No.13 Michigan, and then losing against Michigan State, also 13th, on successive Saturdays last season.

Vandenberg’s road vs. home statistics are interesting, but not conclusive.

He has completed 56.5 percent of his passes, with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions, against Big Ten opponents at home. On the conference road, Vandenberg is a 57.6 percent passer with six touchdowns and six interceptions.

What Happens After Bye Weeks?

Kirk Ferentz-coached Hawkeye teams have a combined 3-6 record following Saturdays without a game — like what’s coming up — with or without Hyde.

The team leader headlined a weekend three-arrest hit for the football team. Police charged Hyde with public intoxication and interference with official acts.

Reserve tight end Ray Hamilton, 19, was charged with being in a bar after hours. Backup offensive lineman Drew Clark, 22, was arrested for public intoxication.

Ferentz’s statement Saturday night said the trio will be punished, but didn’t reveal to what extent.

Weisman Express Rolls On

This one is iffy if Damon Bullock plays.

The opening-game starter has recovered from suffering a concussion Sept. 15 against Northern Iowa. Last Tuesday, offensive coordinator Greg Davis insinuated Bullock’s return, which means Weisman’s 22-carry average the past two games could go down.

Weisman is thunder. Bullock is lightning.

Whichever Iowa back carries the ball Saturday won’t have it easy. The Spartans allow an average of 86 rushing yards a game after limiting Indiana to just 35 on Saturday. No back has exceeded the 56 yards on 10 carries Notre Dame’s Cierre Wood had against them.

Weisman has gained 515 yards in five games — with an average of 7.0 yards a carry.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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