Hawkeyes set to host rival Cyclones
Hawkeyes linebacker Quinton Alston was in no mood for diplomacy.
''They don't like us. We don't like them,'' Alston said Tuesday.
Those words captured the true nature of a rivalry that grips the state every year.
The 62nd edition of this matchup will feature the undefeated Hawkeyes (2-0) against winless Iowa State (0-2). But the Cyclones might have played better in losing to No. 19 Kansas State 32-28 last week than Iowa did in beating Ball State at home, 17-13.
Iowa will also likely be without its best player, tackle Brandon Scherff, as he recovers from a knee injury.
But the Hawkeyes took a major step forward defensively last week. Ball State's only touchdown came on a fumble return, and the Cardinals gained just 219 yards.
If Iowa's struggling offense can make a similar turnaround, the Cyclones could be in big trouble in Iowa City.
''Iowa, historically, has been known for being extremely sound. Not allowing a lot of points. Being where they're supposed to be. Not giving up a lot of big plays. This defense is no different,'' Rhoads said.
Here are some of the noteworthy items to consider as Ferentz looks to even his record against the Cyclones to 8-8:
OTT-A PLAY: Iowa defensive end Drew Ott is expected to play Saturday after a moped accident early Monday morning led to ''a couple stitches,'' according to Ferentz. Ott, a junior, earned the league's defensive player of the week honor on Monday after making 13 tackles and forcing the late fumble that sealed last week's win. ''He's just a guy that competes and works hard and goes hard. That's his game in a nutshell to me. He's a really determined player,'' Ferentz said.
GO WEST: The one guy that Iowa's defense can't let out of its sight is senior wide receiver/returner Jarvis West, among the Big 12's most versatile players. West caught and threw TD passes and returned a punt 82 yards for a third touchdown in the loss to the Wildcats. West, who was already Iowa State's top returner, has also has emerged as Iowa State's No. 1 option in passing game with star Quenton Bundrage out for the year. ''I showed them that I'm capable of doing all those things,'' West said.
RUDOCK'S EVOLUTION: One of the major takeaways for the Hawkeyes after last week's scare was that quarterback Jake Rudock can rescue them if he has to. Rudock threw for a career-high 322 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the final 2:52 as Iowa rallied from a 13-3 deficit. Rudock is completing 68.8 percent of his passes and has yet to throw an interception after tossing 13 a year ago.
SECOND HALF WOES: Iowa State's offense was markedly improved last week after scoring just 14 points in the opener. But the Cyclones were shut out in the second half for the second week in a row. It's a troubling sign for coordinator Mark Mangino's offense, which is last among Big 12 teams with 21 points a game. ''The drives in the second half, we started them out well but couldn't really finish the drives. They kind of seem to stall at midfield every time,'' quarterback Sam Richardson said. ''I think for the most part it's just the third and shorts, the fourth and shorts. You've got to convert those.''
KICKED OUT: Iowa's placekicking situation was a bit of a concern in the offseason. Now it's a major concern. Starter Marshall Koehn missed 37 and 35-yard field goals last week, and freshman Mick Ellis whiffed on a 29-yarder in his first career try. Ferentz said Tuesday that the Hawkeyes won't settle on Saturday's starter until the end of the week.
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