Poor Ball State. They’re getting the Iowa Hawkeyes at the exact wrong time. The Hawks were upset in the late night desert air by Arizona, and now they need wins with huge style points to compensate for how far they fell in the national rankings. Critics of Iowa say the team, and the state itself, is boring.
I disagree. Iowa provided the setting for “Field of Dreams” and “The Music Man,” two works of American fiction that have influenced and inspired contemporary pop culture in every genre. Regarding the team itself, they had a backup offensive lineman appear on a national morning talk show, possess one of the best defensive lines in the nation, and possibly the best defensive player overall in Adrian Clayborn. How many programs have star power like this?
Throughout the season, I’ll be bringing you these informative yet blunt game previews of every contest I cover (and a second game that week that interests me); with a heavy focus on my three “home teams” Northwestern, Illinois, Notre Dame, and the Big Ten in general.
By Paul M. Banks
Iowa Synopsis: Sometimes I just don’t understand the mystique surrounding Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi. Yes, his record as a starter is impeccable, but his interception total is way too high for him to be considered an elite quarterback. It happened again in Tucson. Stanzi threw a pick that was returned 85 yards for a touchdown. And there were three more throws on top of that which should have been intercepted. To his credit though, he was working with an offensive line that is a far cry from the dominant squad of 2009. He was hurried and harassed all night.
And now he’ll guide an offense that’s lost their second significant tailback. Brandon Wegher bailed on the program after the second practice, and now Jewel Hampton is out with a serious injury. Head Coach Kirk Ferentz articulated how Adam Robinson will now be the feature back.
“We’ve got Adam, obviously, and then right now with Jewel out, plus Jason White is going to be out another week or two would be my guess so that moves Marcus Coker and De’Andre Johnson up…There are a lot of teams that play primarily one tailback and go the whole season that way and that’s our plan for right now. We plan on him being the primary ball carrier like he was in week one, and we’ll get him in and out of the game when appropriate. But it’s not an unheard of phenomena for one guy to be the featured ball carrier.”
Iowa will be wearing throwback uniforms in this game. The uniforms will replicate, or be very similar to, what was worn in the Evashevski era (1952-60) The event is in recognition of Iowa’s 1958 Big Ten championship team that won the 1959 Rose Bowl.
Ball State Synopsis: This school is known more for their contributions to American pop culture (alums “Garfield” creator Jim Davis and late night television host David Letterman) than anything else. And the Cardinals are about as good at beating the Big Ten as Letterman is at keeping it in his pants. Ball State is 1-20 against the Big Ten Conference, having played seven of the current 11 members. Iowa holds an all-time record of 17-2 against current member of the Mid-American Conference. So you see where this one is headed.
BSU has a season opening win over Southeast Missouri State (27-10) and losses to Liberty (27-23) and Purdue (24-13). The program has seen good times lately though. Ball State posted a 12-2 overall record and 8-0 conference mark in 2008. The Cardinals were nationally ranked for nine weeks and competed in back-to-back (2007, 2008) bowl games for the first time in school history.
Today, BSU goes with the dreaded two QB system. “One guy is a little better runner than the other and the other guy is a little better thrower and which way they go, we’ll find out Saturday,” Ferentz said.
The runner of the two QBs is Kelly Page, who’s averaging about four yards a carry. It’s definitely not Keith Wenning, who has -35 rushing yards on the season.
Guys you’ll see Saturday eventually playing on Sundays:
Iowa- I’ve seen scouts high on Stanzi, well they must be high on something because I don’t see his next level potential at all. Clayborn should be a top 5-10 pick. DT Karl Klug could be a mid round pick, likewise for safeties Tyler Sash and Brett Greenwood. Wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and yes even the punter Ryan Donahue look NFL quality as well.
Prediction to be taken with a grain of salt (actually make that a whole truckload of salt):
Iowa 37, Ball State 13 (Banks’ 2010 record 4-2)
And this game will be much less closer than the score would indicate.
Written by Paul M. Banks, President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football.com, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and @bigtenguru