STATISTICS AND OPINION — HERE’S WHAT COULD HAPPEN WHEN IOWA AND PENN STATE MEET AT 7 P.M. SATURDAY AT KINNICK STADIUM
On a scale of 1-to-10, with 10 signifying perfection:
THREE: Unless Mark Weisman starts and hasn’t lost a step after spraining his right ankle against Michigan State last Saturday, it could be a long night for Hawkeye tailbacks. Even if Weisman plays, it’s still going to be tough going against a team that allows conference opponents just 98.0 yards a game.
Penn State hasn’t allowed an individual to run for more than 72 yards since ex-Iowa Stater Beau Blankenship rushed 31 times for 109 to help Ohio University to victory against the Nits in the season-opening game.
Even Northwestern’s Venric Mark was held below his average, with 72 yards on 13 carries in Penn State’s victory against the ‘Cats. Mark enters Saturday’s huge game against Nebraska averaging 113.9 rushing yards.
If Weisman can’t play, then the tailbacks Iowa expects to use have combined for 45 carries and 149 yards – in their careers.
PENN STATE RUSHING
TWO: Zach Zwinak has 100yard performances his last two games as the feature back while Bill Belton recovers from an ankle sprain – with 121 against Northwestern and 100 against Illinois. Saturday, though, Zwinak, and Belton, if he returns as expected, are rushing against the best front seven they’ve faced this season – outside of working against their own defense in practice.
The Iowa unit they oppose tonight includes linebacker Anthony Hitchens, the nation’s top tackler.
Furthermore, Zwinak’s 100-yard games have been against defenses not exactly great at stopping the rush – Northwestern is 6th against Big Ten competition, and Illinois is 10th.
SIX. You think the Presidential race is hard to call. . .Which Iowa passing game shows up Saturday night – the one that pulled off a nifty 35-yard play to keep a drive alive in last Saturday’s big victory, or the one where receivers either drop the ball or can’t get to it?
Let’s go with the positive. Penn State’s pass defense isn’t great. Opponents average 216.0 passing yards, and Hawkeye quarterback James Vandenberg (and the tight ends) are overdue for big games.
PENN STATE PASSING
SIX. Quarterback Matt McGloin has completed 53 of 89 passes for 493 yards and three touchdowns the past two games – victories at Illinois and at home against Northwestern.
Both opponents had statistically inferior pass defenses compared to Iowa, and here’s one more thing to watch in this respect:
The Hawkeyes have intercepted four passes against its two conference opponents, while McGloin hasn’t thrown a Big Ten pick. Iowa gets defensive back B.J. Lowery back. The more defenders the merrier against a quick-tempo, NFL style offense that includes tight end Kyle Carter, the team’s No. 2 receiver with 23 receptions for 279 yards and a touchdown.
NINE. Place-kicker Mike Meyer has made 14 of his 15 field goal attempts this season, and enters the game with 13 straight since missing a 40-yarder in the opener against Northern Illinois. The only think keeping this from being a perfect 10 is the Hawkeyes’ inconsistent punting game.
PENN STATE KICKERS
FIVE: If punting was all that mattered, then Alex Butterworth’s performance would merit a 10. He has dropped 10 of his 24 punts inside the 20. He has two 50-yarders. Opponents have called fair catches seven times. He has not been blocked. However, Sam Ficken has missed six of his nine field-goal attempts, and his longest success is just 32 yards. He wasn’t even going to kick – until Anthony Fera transferred to Texas.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football