So, Iowa-Iowa State. The Granddaddy Of Them All, State of Iowa Division. Yep. That's on us. So what's the deal with Iowa? How will this be a happy weekend and not one where you just feel like punching a cop out of general principle?
Mr. Vint already identified two key weakness areas for Iowa State: the secondary and offensive line. Those don't necessarily help Iowa as much as one would hope, as the Iowa defensive line is—let's be polite—"developing," and a Greg Davis offense is much too dignified to attack the opposing secondary deep more than twice a game.
Bummer, really, because sacks and bombs sound awfully fun after the first two weeks of the season.
No, where the game will likely hang in the balance is what Iowa does inside the 20s. If the Hawkeyes are pinned deep, they cannot afford a three-and-out; the defense just doesn't have that shutdown quality that can keep opponents from taking advantage of good field position.
Meanwhile, on offense it's imperative that Iowa finish drives. We're not going to freak out if it's 4th and 9 and a field goal has to go up; everyone kicks field goals now and then. It's just that this is going to be a close enough game that even one field goal turning into a touchdown could swing the balance of the game, and Iowa hasn't shown itself to be anywhere near automatic in the red zone.
It seems far too oversimplified to just say "if you score more than the other team you win and that's good"—yes, duh, everyone knows that. But this is going to be decided by which team takes better advantage of its limited opportunities. And yes, we like Iowa's lines enough to think it'll be the Hawkeyes getting another opportunity or two over the course of the game. We don't like Iowa's ability to finish well enough yet, though. So that's the thing.