IOWA CITY, Iowa - For the second week in a row, Iowa is more than a three-touchdown favorite against a non-conference opponent. The fifth-ranked Hawkeyes play host to Colorado State of the Mountain West Saturday (2:30 PM CT, FS1) at Kinnick Stadium.
The Rams will be looking to leave town with more than the fat paycheck they'll receive for the "Buy Game." Odds are they'll end up settling for the cheddar like Kent State did last week in a 30-7 setback.
Colorado State does arrive with some momentum after winning, 22-6, last Saturday at Toledo. The Rams were a 14.5-point underdog in that contest. They opened the season with home losses to South Dakota State and Vanderbilt.
Steve Addazio posted a 1-3 record last season, his first as the head coach in Fort Collins. Colorado State turned in a putrid offensive performance, finishing 106 in scoring, 105 in rushing and 113 in total offense among 130 FBS programs nationally in 2020.
"I think our team is excited. We're looking forward to this challenge," Addazio said. "We're not naïve. We know how good this football team is. It's pretty evident. They're the No. 5 team in the country and they should be.
"But, in the same breath, we've got to focus on us. We've got to get better again this week. Each week we want to get incrementally better, and we're going up against, obviously up against an incredible challenge that will be another bench mark for our program. We're looking forward to the excitement level of a big-time game."
The Rams have made great strides on offense, ranking 41st in total offense this season. They've averaged 453.5 yards per game. By comparison, the Hawkeyes rank 126 (238.0 YPG).
"The big thing with Colorado State is they have a lot of 12-, 13-, 14-personnel, so we want to stop the run and force them to drop back on third-and-long," Hawkeye defensive lineman John Waggoner said.
"Yeah, they mix in a lot. It seems like they've got eight or nine guys on the line of scrimmage. It's pretty interesting," Waggoner said.
Iowa hangs its hat on a defense, allowing just 11.5 points a contest, tied for the 15th fewest in the country. Colorado State is yielding 33.0, which rates 109th nationally.
The Rams' defense took a step forward at Toledo. It held the Rockets without a touchdown and allowed only 21 yards rushing.
While Iowa's first three opponents utilized defensive-back and hybrid heavy defenses, Colorado State employs more of a traditional 4-3 alignment. That's what Hawkeye quarterback Spencer Petras sees in practice going against his defense.
"It makes preparation a little bit easier just because you don't have to train your eyes to see a totally foreign thing," he said. "But each week it gets down to how we do things. We'll learn any scheme that we have to. The big challenge just becomes how well can we execute."
Conversely, the Ram offense stalled in Toledo, the team's lone touchdown came on a 70-yard punt return from Thomas Pannunzio. Quarterback Todd Centeio completed just 11 of 27 passes for 108 yards. Tight end Trey McBride did record his third 100-yard receiving effort in as many games.
McBride is listed high on the Iowa scouting report.
"We see a big, physical team. Obviously they have a great tight end," Hawkeye linebacker Jestin Jacobs said. "He's been a problem for teams this year. We just know we have to come physically ready to stop him."
Kicker Cayden Camper earned Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week honors after connecting on all five of his field goal attempts against Toledo. He hit his longest from 47 yards out in the fourth quarter.
TV ANNOUNCERS: Tim Brando, Spencer Tillman on FS1.
SERIES: Saturday’s game marks the first all-time meeting between Iowa and Colorado State. The Hawkeyes are 9-1-1 all-time against the Mountain West Conference.
Colorado State head coach Steve Addazio was the head coach at Boston College when the Hawkeyes defeated the Eagles, 27-20, at the 2017 Pinstripe Bowl in Bronx, New York.
BETTING LINES: The game opened with Iowa as a 22.0-point favorite at Vegas Insiders (VI) on Sunday. That number jumped to 22.5 in the VI consensus on Monday. The total was at 44.5, down from a 45.5 open.
-Colorado State is 3-8 Against the Spread in its last 11 games as a road underdog.
-Rams are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
-Iowa is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games overall.
-Hawkeyes are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games as a favorite.
COLORADO STATE PLAYERS TO WATCH
-Trey McBdide, TE – Expected to be an early NFL Draft Pick as one of the nation's top players at his position, the 6-foot-4, 260-pound McBide has the Hawkeyes' attention. The senior from Colorado leads the country with 30 receptions and ranks 12th nationally with 339 receiving yards, which leads all tight ends.
–David Bailey, RB – The senior transfer from Boston College has been the Rams workhorse. He's carried the ball 64 times for 259 yards and two scores, averaging 21.3 attempts per contest. He's added seven receptions for 63 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
-Mohamed Kamara, LB – A junior from New Jersey, Kamara leads the team with 3.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss. He's also broken up a pass, been credited with two quarterback hurries and forced a fumble.
KEYS TO VICTORY
Colorado State: The Rams will be hoping for a similar formula to what they used at Toledo, shortening the game with a strong rushing attack and leaning on defense.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes looked a little sluggish early against Kent State last week. If they play with energy and tempo, and limit mistakes, this game shouldn't be close.
-CSU senior Ryan Stonehouse, a two-time All-American (2018, 2020), is currently the NCAA’s all-time career leader in punt average with a 47.0 mark. The three-time All-Mountain West performer is aiming to finish his career above 46.31.
-Colorado State's last victory over a ranked team came in 2002 when Sonny Lubick's Mountain West conference champions took down No. 7 Colorado in Denver 19-14. Colorado State is 2-13 all-time against teams ranked in the AP Top 10.
-Now entering his 45th season as a full-time assistant coach at the collegiate level, defensive coordinator Chuck Heater is the nation's most senior assistant both in terms of years and games coached (524) entering 2021. Northwestern's Mike Hankwitz previously held the top spot prior to his retirement in 2020.
-Colorado State returned all but one starter from the 2020 squad and has a roster which includes 33 senior, fifth-year or beyond players.
-The Rams' last game in the state of Iowa came in 1983 against Iowa State, and the program is 1-11 all-time against the current membership of the Big 10.
-The Hawkeyes are ranked No. 5 in the AP poll for the second week in a row, their highest ranking since Nov. 29, 2015 (#4). Iowa has two wins over ranked opponents (vs. #17 Indiana, 34-6; at #9 Iowa State, 27-17) this season and has won five straight against ranked opponents overall. Only Alabama (8) has more consecutive wins over ranked opponents.
-Iowa has won its last nine games. The Hawkeyes have outscored their last nine opponents, 305-113, averaging 33.9 points per game offensively and allowing 12.6 ppg during the winning streak. Iowa has scored at least 25 points in each win. It is the first time in school history Iowa has scored 25 points or more in nine straight games.
-Iowa has won 14 straight non-conference games, including 11 regular season non-conference victories and three bowl wins. The win streak ranks second in the country to Minnesota (21). Iowa’s last non-conference loss was at the 2017 Outback Bowl (Florida, 30-3).
-Hawkeye RB Tyler Goodson has 11 rushing touchdowns in the last nine games. He is averaging 105.8 yards per game (5.4 per carry) during Iowa’s nine-game winning streak. He rushed 22 times for a career-high 153 yards and a career-high three touchdowns Week 3 against Kent State.
-Iowa has played 25 straight games without surrendering 25 points, the longest streak in the nation among Power 5 teams. The Hawkeyes lead the Big Ten in scoring defense (10.0) and takeaways (8), and rank No. 2 in rushing defense (81.3).
Colorado State – Leslie Jones
Iowa - George Saling
HOWE I SEE IT: Colorado State displayed its potential by defeating a Toledo team that pushed No. 12 Notre Dame before falling, 32-29, in South Bend a week earlier.
The Rams should come to Kinnick Stadium confident. The heat on second-year head coach Steve Addazio should cool down for at least a week.
As we saw in the 2017 Pinstripe Bowl, when he was coaching Boston College against the Hawkeyes, Addazio prefers a style similar to Iowa. He likes to run the football and rely on a physical defense.
The problem for him and the Rams is that they're facing a team that's really good at doing what they like to do. They're going to try to beat the Hawkeyes at their own game, which seems unlikely.
The teams could feel each other out early in this contest, playing for field position. Eventually, Iowa will impose its will and overpower the visitors from the west.
PREDICTION: IOWA 31, Colorado State 6
Rob Howe has covered Iowa Hawkeye sports for 25 years and began working at HawkeyeNation.com in 2003. Please follow @RobHoweHN on Twitter.