Stat to Watch is back and what better way to start an Iowa football season than talking about the running game. I’m sure by now you have seen the graphic of Iowa’s impressive record when it eclipses 100 yards on the ground so we all know that is an important number already. With that being said, I decided to look into the Jackrabbits rushing splits and they too are quite telling. Here’s what The Pants uncovered.
In SDSU’s 11 wins:
Total Rushing Yards: 2678
Rushing Yards/Game: 243.45
I’m sure Kirk would soil himself if the Hawkeyes were putting up these kinds of numbers year in and year out. I can hear the argument already claiming the Hawkeyes would have similar numbers if they faced the competition SDSU faces at the FCS level. Let me remind you that both of these squads faced Colorado State last season. The Jackrabbits ran for a cool 242 yards on 34 carries for 7.1 yards a pop. The Hawkeyes? A paltry 95 yards on 48 carries good for 1.98 yards/carry!... Excuse me for a moment...
Ah that’s better. Back to SDSU’s rushing game and the happy side of the Iowa football.
In SDSU’s 4 Losses:
Total Rushing Yards: 500
Rushing Yards/Game: 125
This is where the Hawkeyes’ magic number lies and one that Kirk and Phil have to imagine is extremely attainable. Hold the Jackrabbits to under 4.16 yards a carry and the Hawks are going to walk out of Kinnick Saturday. While South Dakota State has plenty of weapons in the pass game, I’m giving Phil Parker credit here and am going to say the Hawks will limit the big plays through the air. If Iowa keeps South Dakota State from doing what they want to do which is run the ball, they will be fine. Not saying it won’t be close, but they should win.
Reason to be Optimistic:
Last year, the Hawkeyes only allowed 3.2 yards/carry good for 8th best in all of college football. Even in their four losses, Iowa only allowed 3.74 yards/carry with their only poor performance coming against Michigan when they allowed 6.21 yards a tote. Just so the populous knows, South Dakota State is NOT Michigan so Phil and his merry men should be up for the task.
Reason to be Pessimistic:
South Dakota State has a running Quarterback. Even though the Hawkeyes have seemingly done much better in the last few years in dealing with dual threat QB’s, I know that all of you saw horrible flash backs of Easton Stick, another dual threat QB from a directional Dakota school, scrambling around and extending plays. Somewhat of a forgotten man after an injury forced him to miss the 2021 season, Jackrabbit QB Mark Gronowski is a dangerous athlete. In 2020, Gronowski rushed 83 times for 577 yards including an 80 yard touchdown scamper. With the Iowa defense having to keep their eyes on All-American receiver Jaxon Jenke (72 rec, 1176 yrds) and All-American stud tight end Tucker Kraft (65 rec, 773 yrds), the Hawkeyes might have their hands full keeping an eye on Gronowksi. He is coming off of ACL surgery so it will be known early in this game if he will be the same player he was two years ago. On the flip side, if the Hawks have to commit to much personnel to containing the QB, it may open up some big plays for SDSU over the top.
So hold the Jackrabbits under 4.16 yards/carry Hawkeyes. I’m sure for many of you 4.16 will instead represent the number of beers downed by 10:30 am to which I say, “you’re not an alcoholic if it’s a Saturday in the fall.”