What a great weekend this will be, Hawkeye fans. Another Hawkeye team beating up on our friends to the West. The Hawks lead the all time series against Nebraska, 28-10-2, and have won six straight duals. This year the Cornhuskers come in with an undefeated record of 8-0 with 2 wins in the B1G. Don't let their record fool you, though -- they haven't wrestled anyone worth noting.
This dual does have one matchup I've been waiting for since the semifinals at B1G's last season: #1 Derek St. John vs #3 James Green. Classy Coach Manning and his assistants gave the Iowa crowd the middle finger and walked off laughing. It was the first time Green had beaten St. John and it was a stall-filled match by Green. Worthy of the crowd getting the middle finger, of course.
Hawkeyes have won 28 of their 30 individual matches in the B1G season and they look to keep that ratio going against the #8 Nebraska Cornhuskers. BHGP breaks the dual down below.
WHO: #8 Nebraska (8-0)
WHEN: 4:30 PM CST; Saturday, January 18th, 2014
WHERE: Lincoln, Neb, Devaney Center
TV: Big Ten Network
RADIO: AM-800 KXIC (free), Hawkeye All-Access ($)
TWITTER: @IowaWRLive, @hagertony, @critterk10, @Andy_Hamilton, @kjpilcher, @codygoodwin
#2 IOWA 31, #13 Nebraska 7
149 - #11 Jake Sueflohn (N) major dec. Brody Grothus (IA), 8-0; 0-4
157 - #1 Derek St. John (IA) dec. #6 James Green (N), 6-4; 3-4
165 -#13 Nick Moore (IA) pinned Austin Wilson (N), 6:41; 9-4
174 - #4 Mike Evans (IA) dec. #2 Robert Kokesh (N), 9-6; 12-4
184 - #8 Josh Ihnen (N) dec. Grant Gambrall (IA), 5-1 SV; 11-7*
197 - #19 Nathan Burak (IA) dec. Caleb Kolb (N), 3-1 SV; 14-7
285 - #6 Bobby Telford (IA) dec. Spencer Johnson (N), 6-2; 17-7
125 - #1 Matt McDonough (IA) tech. fall Eric Coufal (N), 20-5; 22-7
133 - #2 Tony Ramos (IA) pinned Shawn Nagel (N), 2:05; 28-7
141 - #8 Mark Ballweg (IA) dec. Ridge Kiley (N), 6-1; 31-7
*unsportsmanlike conduct, 1-point team deduction
#2 IOWA HAWKEYES (8-1)
125: #3 Thomas Gilman (*Fr. 14-2) or Cory Clark (*Fr 12-0)
133: #3 Tony Ramos (Sr. 17-2)
141: #13 Josh Dziewa (Jr. 18-4)
149: #13 Brody Grothus (So. 19-5)
157: #1 Derek St. John (Sr. 20-0)
165: #4 Nick Moore (Jr. 13-2)
174: #6 Mike Evans (Jr. 18-2)
184: #4 Ethen Lofthouse (Sr. 16-2)
197: #16 Nathan Burak (So. 8-2)
285: #3 Bobby Telford (Jr. 14-1)
#8 NEBRASKA (8-0)
125: #9 Tim Lambert (Fr. 16-5)
133: Shawn Nagel (Sr. 8-3)
141: Colton McCrystal (Fr. 12-6)
149: #5 Jake Sueflohn (So. 21-3)
157: #3 James Green (Jr. 21-0)
165: Austin Wilson (So 15-7)
174: #4 Robert Kokesh (Jr. 23-1)
184: #11 T.J. Duley (Jr. 20-3)
197: Spencer Johnson (Jr. 22-8)
285: Collin Jensen (*Fr. 16-7)
#3 Thomas Gilman (*Fr. 14-2) or Cory Clark (*Fr 12-0) vs #9 Tim Lambert (Fr. 16-5)
TONY: Not sure how Lambert is ranked at 125lbs. Maybe it is a little weak towards the bottom end of the weight class. He was majored, 14-1, by #6 Josh Martinez (Air Force) and has wrestled of few other ranked wrestlers, but nothing really hints toward him having a chance against Gilman or Clark. Last week I noted Clark would get the start and my sources tell me he was given the nod early in the week he would be the guy but apparently something happened during the week. Have to go with Gilman now until I SEE something different. Gilman by technical fall.
ROSS: Lambert's #9 ranking is a little curious, since as Tony noted he really hasn't beaten anyone of note. His best win is probably a 6-1 decision over #13 Evan Silver (Stanford). But he got smashed by #6 Martinez and also dropped a pair of matches to #8 Tyler Cox (Wyoming). I assume Gilman gets the nod again and, if so, I like him to take the victory. Unlike Tony, though, I'm not as bullish on bonus points here. I think Gilman wins a comfortable but unspectacular decision -- say, 8-2.
#3 Tony Ramos (Sr. 17-2) vs Shawn Nagel (Sr. 8-3)
TONY: Same result as last year. Ramos gets the fall.
ROSS: Ditto. The only question is how long it takes before Tony gets bored and pins him.
#13 Josh Dziewa (Jr. 18-4) vs Colton McCrystal (Fr. 12-6)
TONY: Dziewa shouldn't have much trouble with McCrystal. McCrystal has a lot of close wins so he could be a bit of gamer for Dziewa.... but I still look for Dziewa to get a major decision, though.
ROSS: I just hope Dziewa doesn't get a little too funky rolling around on the mat and end up giving up some dumb points. This seems like a pretty good chance for Dziewa to get his mojo back and push for bonus points, but I'm still going to err on the side of caution and go with a straight-up decision here.
#13 Brody Grothus (So. 19-5) vs #5 Jake Sueflohn (So. 21-3)
TONY: This will be a big test for Grothus and will help tell us whether or not Grothus has what it takes to make it on the stand. Jake Sueflohn has wrestled the #1, #3 and #4 wrestlers at 149lbs with losses to each of them. Grothus has also had his shot at some top ranked wrestlers beating the #2 and #3 wrestlers in the land. It's hard not to take Sueflohn here not only because Sueflohn has more experience on the big stage, but because he also beat Grothus 8-0 last year. That said, though I have Grothus continuing to stay hot and climbing the rankings with another win here.
ROSS: Sueflohn is another excellent test for Grothus and a great measuring stick to see exactly how far Grothus has come from a year ago. Sueflohn handled him pretty easily in an 8-0 major decision win. Grothus has improved since then (like, a lot), but has he completely turned the corner against Sueflohn? Here's some food for thought: the first time Grothus wrestled Edinboro's David Habat this year, he lost a 13-5 major decision. The second time he wrestled him (at Midlands), he pinned him in a 1:38. That's a hell of a turnaround. Admittedly, he got a pin in the second match because he managed to hit a big move perfectly and get the shock fall, but Grothus' results since then have shown that that result wasn't that flukish -- he went to beat #4 Jason Tsirtsis (then #2) in a hard-fought decision and wrestled a great match against #8 Josh Kindig (then #3) in a win last week. I think this will be a very tight match, likely coming down to a takedown in the third period... and while I love the way Grothus is wrestling right now, I think Sueflohn nips him this time. Sueflohn via decision.
#1 Derek St. John (Sr. 20-0) vs #3 James Green (Jr. 21-0)
TONY: This will be the match of the afternoon. Both of these wrestlers are undefeated and have a bit of a past. I guess you could call it a rivalry, but maybe that is just for the fans. St. John is 2-1 all-time against Green, winning two close decisions, 6-4. He lost their most recent match in the Big Ten semifinals last year, via 5-4 and it was what I like to call a fluke. It was a horrible match by DSJ, as Green got a lead and stalled. Look for DSJ to get some revenge and win by decision. HOW BOUT IT, Coach Manning?
ROSS: ARE YOU READY TO RRRRRRRRRUUUUUUUUUUMMMMBBBBLLLLLEEEEE? As Tony said, this will easily be the match of the day. You've got the #1 and #3 wrestlers at 157, St. John vs. the last guy to beat him in college, and St. John vs. one of the top threats at this weight class. When these guys wrestle, the matches are typically close. 6-4 (SV) St. John. 6-4 St. John. 5-4 Green. Granted, St. John wrestles a LOT of close matches, but Green has been one of his toughest opponents the last two years. Green doesn't have much of a gas tank (in St. John's wins, he's managed to come from behind and beat a gassed Green), but he is a very quick, explosive athlete and he's been able to get in on St. John's legs (and, more crucially, finish his shots).
Green's gameplan is pretty obvious: get an early lead and try like hell to hold onto it. St. John's gameplan is also likely to be pretty obvious: be active and try to wear Green out, opening him up for some third-period scoring. This could be the first of three showdowns between DSJ and Green this year and while it's easily the least important of the three, I think DSJ erases the bad taste of losing to Green in the B1G semifinals last year with a decision win here.
#4 Nick Moore (Jr. 13-2) vs Austin Wilson (So 15-7)
TONY: What a win by Mr. Moore last weekend! Moore showed that if you wrestle to score points, they will come to you. Beating #2 Tyler Caldwell in overtime last weekend was the biggest win of Moore's career. Believe it or not, it was also Moore's first match in overtime. Crazy. (ED. NOTE: Wow! -- Ross) Anyway, with that win my confidence in Moore has sky -ocketed and I believe that he is going to score us some much-needed points in March. This match won't be much of a challenge for Moore. He could possibly get the major here, but I have him just falling short of the major decision.
ROSS: I agree with Tony -- Moore is wrestling at a really high level right now and it's great to see. While his win over Caldwell was undeniably great and a tremendous feather in his cap -- beating guys like Caldwell and Massa proves that he can legitimately contend with the elite guys at this weight (non-David Taylor division, anyway). That's huge. But I was also very impressed with his next match, that 13-3 major decision win over Ryan LeBlanc. LeBlanc is a solid wrestler... and Moore took him apart. Moore's shots looked quick and decisive and he finished them with ease. He also rode well and defended stoutly. He took LeBlanc apart with ease and, most importantly, he kept pushing for more points throughout the match. He didn't settle for an easy decision win, but made sure he locked up a major decision. That's the kind of attitude we want to see up and down the lineup and seeing it out of Moore, who used to seem very happy to sit on ho-hum decision, was great. Anyway, this match. Wilson is decent, but again: Moore is on fire. I think he has a very real shot at bonus points here, but like Tony, I'll say he just falls short.
#6 Mike Evans (Jr.18-2) vs #4 Robert Kokesh (Jr. 23-1)
TONY: Evans and Kokesh know each other very well. Evans won the first three meetings before falling 3-2 last year at the NCAA Championships. Expect this one to be a battle until the end. Kokesh's only loss on the season is to #1 Andrew Howe. Andrew Howe doesn't win by crazy margins, but Kokesh still held him to a 3-2 decision. Other than the match with Howe he hasn't been tested and neither has Evans, really. Evans has scored bonus in 16 of his 18 wins this season. Pretty damn impressive and while I don't have confirmed proof, you can bet that the matches where he didn't get bonus points were when he was mustache-less. I am going with Evans in this match only because of the history. Maybe Kokesh is improving more than Evans and the tide will stay on his side.
ROSS: Well, Mike Evans, here you go -- another shot at beating one of the top-5 guys at this weight. Evans has been locked into the #6 ranking this year for obvious reasons: he can (and does) beat all of the guys ranked below him, usually with bonus points. But so far he can't get over the hump against guys ranked above him, dropping a 4-1 decision to #3 Matt Brown and a wild 5-4 decision to #2 Chris Perry last week. #4 Kokesh is his latest opportunity to get one of those big wins and move up in the rankings. Evans has had success against Kokesh in the past: he beat him twice (7-3 and 17-2) when they were at 165 a few years ago and split with him at 174 last year (winning a 9-6 decision at the dual meet and losing a 3-2 decision at the NCAA Tournament). Kokesh is very good, but have you seen Evans' mustache lately?
I ain't betting against that thing. Evans via decision.
#4 Ethen Lofthouse (Sr. 16-2) or Sammy Brooks (*Fr 15-6) vs #11 T.J. Dudley (Jr. 20-3)
TONY: I haven't heard who the Hawks will put out there this weekend, but it won't matter. Lofthouse or Brooks wins by decision.
ROSS: Sammy Brooks got the call for Iowa last weekend with Lofthouse nursing a minor knee injury and he passed with flying colors, beating #16 Nolan Boyd via 7-1 decision and dropping #18 Luke Sheridan with a 12-3 decision. Dudley has a good record and a solid ranking, but he really hasn't beat many names of note; his best win is a 9-8 decision over #8 Kenny Courts. I think Lofthouse gets the nod here (if healthy) and I expect a typical low-scoring match, but I expect Lofty to pull out the decision win anyway.
#16 Nathan Burak (So. 8-2) vs Spencer Johnson (Jr. 22-8)
TONY: Whats done is done and Burak will be our guy at 197 lbs this year. No more "would have, could have, should have" at 197 lbs. Brooks would have had a tough time at 197 lbs at the end of the day, given his size.. Burak should have no problem getting the job done Saturday.
ROSS: Burak is riding a 3-match winning streak after dropping his first dual meet match of the season, a 5-4 squeaker to Purdue's Braden Atwood. Burak is doing a better job of finishing shots than he did a year ago and I think he'll keep that trend going against Johnson.
#3 Bobby Telford (Jr. 14-1) vs Collin Jensen (*Fr. 16-7)
TONY: Bobby has been winning, but has his offense really been there? He is turning into the cliche HWT and winning close battles. A win is a win, but it could haunt him come March. Even with Bobby's limited offense right now offense, Jensen doesn't have much of a chance against Telford. Look for a takedown and a fall here.
ROSS: I would have agreed with the complaints about Bobby's offense (or lack thereof)... until the Indiana match last Sunday. It looked like that match -- where Bobby went behind early after a nice takedown by Indiana's Adam Chalfant -- lit a fire under his ass. He won 9-5 in sudden victory, scored multiple takedowns (after winning a few of his recent matches with no takedowns at all), and was in deep on a few more chances (like one right before the end of regulation that should have ended the match). Was that match a fluke? Time will tell, but I hope not. For Telford to max out his ability this year and give himself the best possible chance at finishing high on the podium in March, he needs to trust in his offense and take the freaking shot already. When Telford actually commits to his offense, the results can be pretty impressive. That said, I still need to see more of that before I pick Bobby to win with bonus points; give me a ho-hum decision win instead.
Tony takes the over and Ross takes the under.