November 1, 2012
Keys to victory
To say that the Hawkeye need a win this weekend is stating the obvious. Sitting at 4-4 overall and 2-2 in Big Ten play, Iowa needs at least two wins in their final four games to become bowl eligible. It all starts this weekend with a trip to Indiana to face a pesky group of Hoosiers. In our weekly Keys to Victory, we look at what Iowa needs to do to come home a winner on Saturday.
James Ferentz vs. Adam Replogle
Remember Ali and Frazier meeting three times in epic battles in the ring? Well, this won't be Ali vs. Frazier, but it will be worth watching when Iowa center James Ferentz and Indiana defensive tackle Adam Replogle meet for the third and final time of their college careers. Ferentz has been Iowa's most consistent lineman this year and is the unquestioned leader of the Iowa offensive line. Replogle is the senior defensive tackle and like Ferentz a three year starter and team captain for his squad. What they lack in pure size, they make up for in hardnosed tough football. It's a great blue collar battle in the pit on Saturday and the winner of this battle, if there is one, could play a role in the final outcome. Make no mistake, Replogle is really productive player. This season he is third on the Hoosiers in tackles with 52 and has seven tackles for loss, including four sacks.
The Numbers Game
24 might be the number to watch on Saturday. No, that's not a jersey number, but one on the scoreboard. Thus far in the 2012 season, Indiana has scored at least 24 points in every game. The only time they hit 24 was in the opener against Indiana State. Every other week it's been more. They have hit the 40 point mark twice and have scored 30 point or more four other times. Bottom line, the Hoosier can score points. They also give up a lot of them. Indiana has given up more than 40 points three times this season. Opponents have score 30 or more points against Indiana in five of the last six games. On the other side, Iowa has been offensively challenged, scoring just 20 points per game and not reaching their average in their three games in October. They have also given up 38 and 28 points in their last two contests. The key here is Iowa has to keep this game in the low 20's and can't get into a shootout based on the performance of this team this season.
Ground and Pound
What's the best way to keep a high scoring offense from scoring? Control the ball and the clock. While Indiana has given up a lot of yards in the air this season, 216 per game and 12 touchdowns to be exact, they are struggling even more in stopping the run. This season Indiana is last in the Big Ten in stopping the run, giving up 223 yards per game. That's good for a ranking of 109th out of 120 schools. We all know what Iowa likes to do and that's run the ball. Expect a heavy dose of Damon Bullock on Saturday. By a heavy dose, think 30 carries like he had against Northern Illinois to open the season. The good news is Bullock's legs should be relatively fresh after missing five games due to injury before returning last week and rushing for 107 yards against Northwestern. Mark Weisman had his 200 yard rushing day earlier this season and on paper it sure seems like Bullock might have a shot at his on Saturday afternoon in Bloomington. If Iowa is going to win, he might have to get to that number.
Avoid Giving Up Big Plays
This season, Indiana has six scoring plays of 50 yards or longer. That tells you one thing, they are an explosive squad. They have had 34 offensive plays of 20 yards or more this season. The Hoosiers like to make the big play and they have done it this season in the air and on the ground. If the Hawkeyes win this game, they are going to have to limit the big plays in a big way. Iowa's defense is build around the idea of limiting the big play, but in the past two weeks, they have given up more big plays than they would like. The Hawkeye defense will have to step up their game this week against one of the more explosive offenses in the conference.
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