Pregame musings: Iowa vs. Iowa State

Iowa+quarterback+CJ+Beathard+runs+with+the+ball+during+the+Homecoming+game+against+Illinois+in+Kinnick+Stadium+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+10%2C+2015.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Illini+29-20.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FValerie+Burke%29

The Daily Iowan

Iowa quarterback CJ Beathard runs with the ball during the Homecoming game against Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Illini 29-20. (The Daily Iowan/Valerie Burke)

Jordan Hansen, [email protected]

The Cy-Hawk rivalry is about to kick off. Before we get started, a few thoughts on the game.

There isn’t anything quite like a nice Saturday afternoon near Kinnick Stadium. You would be hard-pressed to find a nicer, friendlier, and more communal group of tailgaters around. The wonderful smell of fried meat drifts through lot after lot. A whole bunch of beer. Families and friends drinking and eating.

Crazy bag games and massive RVs. Hawkeye game bibs, black and gold everywhere, with bits of crimson and yellow peeking through on occasion. Huddled groups of fans from both teams screaming obscenities at each other from across the street. A group of guys chugging beers in the back of a pickup truck.

College football is a great, great thing.

Iowa does it pretty well.

So, the game.

Why yes, there is a football game today. Iowa State is not very good and at best will make a minor bowl game this season. At best. The Cyclones lost last week to Northern Iowa in a weird, bad game that Iowa State should have won. Cyclone quarterback Joel Lanning threw 2 late, critical interceptions that negated a pretty awesome game from standout wide receiver Allen Lazard. We talked about him a bunch this week, and we’re finally getting a chance to see him go toe-to-toe with Desmond King.

King versus Pittsburgh talented wide receiver Tyler Boyd was really fun a year ago. Another game under the lights could very well bring out the corner’s best once again.

One thing to note — the Hawkeyes will be without center James Daniels. Right now, it sounds as if sophomore Lucas LeGrand will get the start. This could be a problem Iowa State’s defensive, because tackle Vernell Trent is a good player. The Hawkeyes also love to use their center to pull on a lot of plays. Is LeGrand ready for the challenge?

If he’s not, Iowa could shift Sean Welsh over from his guard spot to center. Daniels missed a large amount of time during the off-season, and Welsh slid over to take the snaps. This one could be interesting.

Iowa wins if …

… they dominate the line of scrimmage from the onset of the game. Iowa is a better, more talented team than Iowa State. Kirk Ferentz’s teams usually are, though recent history says that matters little. If the Hawkeyes come out early and play well, there’s little reason to think they’ll lose this game.

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell has never faced this type of atmosphere as a head coach and will need to keep his head in the Cyclones’ second rivalry game in as many weeks. That is not to say Campbell can’t or won’t handle it. He’s been in his fair share of big games, but this is an entirely different animal.

Iowa State wins if …

… they start off strong and just hang around. Iowa has not always been the best about closing out games in this series. If it gives the Cyclones any bit of reason to believe in themselves, this won’t be a cakewalk.

Iowa State needs to limit pressure on Lanning, giving him plenty of time to throw the ball. Sophomore running back Mike Warren is also a huge threat for the Hawkeyes. Shutting him down early would greatly benefit the Hawkeyes — especially Desmond King and the secondary. Iowa doesn’t want to load up the box against him in an effort to stop them, and if things go well, it shouldn’t have to.

Is Iowa Nice actually a real, tangible thing?

Our Pregame cover story this week was titled “Not so ‘Iowa Nice'” (Blake did a really good job on it, go read it) which got me thinking about this whole idea Iowans are just nice people.

I have no idea if it’s a real thing, but I’m slowly beginning to think it is. This happened earlier as I was sitting in the press box, and for some reason I decided to write it up:

“Did you see the fiasco downstairs?”

It’s an older female university employee and she’s talking to one of her younger coworkers. A family had apparently gotten into the stadium before they were supposed to. Their conversation suddenly shifts to how the incident happened. There’s little action, but a final back and forth catches me by surprise.

“Yes,” the older lady agreed.

“If you’re nice, people listen.”

“Yup,” she replied, preoccupied with a cord.

The exchange is then ended with the briefest of a goodbye, and both wander off to attend to their respective duties.

What do you know, I thought to myself. “Maybe Iowa Nice is real.”

Truth be told, I have no idea if the employees are even from Iowa. That would probably matter, no? Or would it … maybe it’s just living here that makes people “nice”?

Consider this a working theory. Maybe I’ll write a book about it.

Anyway.

Enjoy the game, everyone.

I know I will.

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