November 2, 2007

InFocus: Iowa

Iowa at-a-Glance

2007 Record: 4-5 (2-4 Big Ten)
Head Coach: Kirk Ferentz (59-48, ninth season at Iowa; 71-69 overall)
Series: Iowa, 45-20-3
Last meeting: 2006, Northwestern, 21-7

Kickoff: 11:00 a.m., Ryan Field
Line: Northwestern -1
TV: ESPN2


'Bee Season' has arrived in Evanston as the hordes of black-and-yellow Iowa fans will descend like insects upon Ryan Field on Saturday to watch their Hawkeyes take on the Wildcats.

Northwestern will be gunning for its third straight win over Iowa, which has won two of its last three games after losing four straight. Each of the last two Northwestern wins in this series has been memorable. In 2005, the Wildcats scored two touchdowns in the final 2:10 to pull off a miraculous 28-27 win. And last year, the Wildcats went into Iowa City and stunned the Hawkeyes, 21-7, physically pounding out their most impressive win of the season.

Will 2007 bring another momentous win for the Wildcats over the Children of the Corn, or is Iowa due for some revenge? Will NU get its sixth win of the season and become bowl-eligible, or will its wait be postponed another week?

WildcatReport takes a look at how Northwestern matches up with the Hawkeyes.


Offense

Iowa Players to Watch

#6 So. QB Jake Christensen, 143-272, 1,564 yds, 52.6 pct, 12 TD, 3 INT
#21 Sr. RB Albert Young, 152 car, 722 yds, 4.8 avg, 3 TD
#28 Sr. RB Damien Sims, 83 rec, 431 yds, 4.9 avg, 1 TD
#89 Fr. WR James Cleveland, 26 rec, 380 yds, 14.6 avg
#15 Fr. WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, 23 rec, 258 yds, 11.2 avg, 2 TD

Iowa's offense vs. Northwestern's defense

Iowa ranks 115th out of 119 teams in the nation in scoring offense, putting up a paltry 17.1 points per game. You won't hear coach Kirk Ferentz use it as an excuse, but part of the reason for the Hawkeyes' anemic offense has been the number of players that have been MIA. Iowa has had 11 offensive players that appeared on the spring or fall two-deep miss significant time due to injury or suspension this season.

The game plan against the Hawkeyes is an easy one to figure out - focus on stopping the running game and make Christensen beat you through the air. Christensen hasn't been that bad - he's thrown 12 touchdowns against only three interceptions - but he's had problems with accuracy. He's completed only 52.3 percent of his passes and averages 173.8 yards per game, ninth in the Big Ten.

Those numbers are partially attributable to the fact that Christensen's top four wide receiver targets are freshmen. Those freshman wideouts have been forced into the lineup because Iowa has lost the services of its starting tight end and five of its wide receivers, including leading receiver Dominique Douglas, who tried to use his sticky hands to do more than just catch footballs. He pleaded guilty this week to stealing three DVDs from an Iowa City Wal-Mart earlier this month.

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