The Iowa Hawkeyes are set to open Big Ten play with a road trip to Piscataway, New Jersey to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights Saturday evening. This marks Iowa’s first game away from historic Kinnick Stadium in 2022, though it will be the Hawkeyes’ second straight night game after Iowa defeated the Nevada Wolfpack 27-0 over the course of a little more than seven hours spanning last Saturday night and into Sunday morning.
The win in the non-conference finale gave the Hawkeye offense a much needed jolt in the arm. Iowa returned a trio of wide receivers to meaningful action and seemingly opened up the downfield passing game. The result was three times as many offensive touchdowns as the team had produced through the first two weeks combined. While that was a positive on Saturday, the Hawkeye offense remains highly suspect. Iowa still ranks 127th out of 131 teams in scoring offense and is still dead last in total offense through three games.
The abysmal offense has been largely offset by a remarkable defense, which in many ways is the polar opposite of the offense. Phil Parker’s group ranks second nationally in scoring defense, giving up just over four points per game, and fourth in total defense.
Iowa may need that defense to show it’s best stuff in week four as the Hawkeyes travel to Rutgers, which enters the contest at 3-0 and averaging nearly 35 points per game. That Scarlet Knight defense is only giving up 14 points per game themselves, meaning Iowa will either need to show off further growth from its offense or utilize the defense to hold Rutgers well below their season average.
Here’s an early look at what you need to know about this week’s matchup.
Date: Saturday, September 24th
Time: 6:00 pm CT
Matchup: Iowa Hawkeyes (2-1, 0-0) at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-0, 0-0)
Location: SHI Stadium, Piscataway, NJ
Preliminary Weather Forecast: temps in the mid-60s, 5% chance of rain
DraftKings Opening Line: Iowa -7.5, O/U 35.5
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
Saturday will mark just the third ever meeting between Iowa and Rutgers. The Hawkeyes have won each of the prior two meetings between the two schools with the first meeting coming in 2016 after the Knights joined the Big Ten in 2014.
The visit to Piscataway will be the second for Iowa but the first since the inaugural matchup in 2016. Iowa won that one 14-7. The Rutgers touchdown back in 2016 is the only the Knights have scored in the series. The Hawkeyes took home a 30-0 victory in the only other matchup between the two schools in 2019.
Each of Iowa’s prior two victories over Rutgers came against former coach Chris Ash. Coincidentally, those came in the first and last years of the Ash era. The Knights are now coached by Greg Schiano, who is making his second go around with Rutgers after building a national brand from scratch over 11 seasons from 2001-2011 while the school was still in the Big East.
Preseason Prep Work
As we march toward kick off, be sure to check out our preseason preview for this week’s matchup. There’s loads of important details and unique looks at this week’s opponent, including these great stats:
11th bowl game: Even though it was due to a late COVID drop out, the Scarlet Knights appeared (and lost big) in their 11th bowl game. 10 of them have come since Greg Schiano’s initial hire, with him being the head coach for 7 of them.
6.9 yards: The difference between the 120th (Rutgers at 310.8) and 121st (Iowa at 303.9) offenses from 2021. The Hawks outpaced them by 3.7 points/game, a difference almost exclusively attributable to non-offensive scores (6 TDs & 2 safeties by my count - 3.3 points/game).
3rd senior season: Presumed starting QB Noah Vedral is going to be playing in his sixth overall season, the third classified as a senior year. The COVID, redshirt, and transfer rules have me tied in knots. He’s posted a 16:15 TD:INT ratio in his 20 games at Rutgers with a 60% completion percentage.
348 scrimmage yards: Shameen Jones is the number one option out wide for the Scarlet Knights but accumulated just 334 receiving yards in his second senior season. Yes, he’s also classified the same way as Vedral. Lotta experience on this squad even if the stats are ... underwhelming.
It’s also worth pointing out that Rutgers is home to one of the other great punters in the Big Ten. Adam Korsak has already punted nearly 7 miles over the course of his four years in Piscataway as the Knights set an NCAA record in net punting yardage a season ago. Get your popcorn ready for what could be the greatest punting show ever seen.
Here’s a look at the preseason predictions for this one:
Staff Prediction: Iowa Win, Unanimous
Fan Prediction: Iowa Win, 99% of the vote
BizarroMath Prediction: Iowa 25.68, Rutgers 13.95 (Iowa -11.73), 87.2% chance of Iowa win
Stay tuned all week as we dive deeper on the players, matchups and stats to know as the Hawkeyes face off with the Wolfpack.