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Better Know Your Enemy: A Q&A With IOWA

How good is Iowa this season? Do they expect to beat us badly again this year? Hmmm......

Northern Illinois v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

We’re going to finish off our “preseason” Q&As with Iowa. I missed Michigan State and our SB Nation site The Only Colors, and I take the blame for that.

This morning we’re joined by Max from our SB Nation Iowa site Black Heart Gold Pants. Does he think the Hawkeyes will beat us again this season? You’ll never believe what happens next!

How much money did Kirk Ferentz make in the time it took you to read this question?

I’ve had a couple brews, so I had to read this a couple times. Let’s say that it took me 10 seconds, so judging by the math, he made $1.61!

No one double-check my math, thanks.

Name a new offensive player and a new defensive player (either freshman, first-time contributor, or transfer) that fans are most excited to see on the field.

On offense, fans are definitely most excited about the trio of running backs that are looking to split time this fall. Two aren’t exactly new faces, as Ivory Kelly-Martin and Toren Young both got some run last year due to injuries (and garbage time against Nebraska!), but one is Mekhi Sargent, who was a JUCO All-American last year at Iowa Western CC. For the Reivers last year, he accumulated 1,449 yards and 14 TDs on the ground, and he’s going to be a great addition to the backfield. It looks like the three are tied for a three-way OR atop the depth chart (IKM actually is the #1, but he’s probably not a true #1), so it’ll be interesting to see how Ferentz & Son deploy them.

On defense, I’m not sure there’s a specific new guy that anyone is super excited for - the defensive line is just about the same as it was, and people really aren’t excited about starting anew at the linebacker position after three multi-year starters departed. The secondary might provide the answer, as Iowa got some really solid DB recruits this past year. Julius Brents is a true freshman out of Indiana who was a borderline four-star recruit, and with a pretty inexperienced cornerback group, he’s probably in line for some good work this season. Nick Niemann might also be the answer - y’all might remember his older brother Ben who played for the Hawks the past few seasons, and Nick is billed as a faster and bigger version. Would be solid, in my opinion.

Nate Stanley is up for several awards/honors.

He certainly is, isn’t he? He might just be good at the ball throwin’ thing.

Is someone in line to replace Josey Jewell? I mean, I hate you guys but he was an awesome football player.

Right now, the guy who’s billed as the starter at middle linebacker is junior Amani Jones. Based on the fall camp videos that the team has sent out, he looks like he’s going to be the vocal leader of the group and he’s built like a freight train, but no one is expecting him to really replace Josey. Jewell is probably on the Mount Rushmore of Iowa linebackers, and he’s arguably the best of the Ferentz era, so it’ll be tough for Jones to step in those shoes. Iowa has a steady history of solid, if not really good, linebackers, so I’m not entirely worried about him sucking or anything like that.

So is Iowa State your biggest rival? Or is it Northern Iowa? Or is it Nebraska now?

We actually tried to gauge this a bit recently - we did a poll asking people to rank the teams they’d be most angry losing to, and Iowa State came out on top in a landslide. I think that’s a bit more of a natural rivalry, particularly because it takes place within state borders at two incredibly different universities and it’s taken place over so many years, but Nebraska is definitely a team that Iowa fans get heated about - a lot of Iowa fans hate Nebraska and while I know people get mad at this conversation, the two schools definitely have the foundation of a rivalry, whether or not Iowa has the history of success to fall back on.

So to answer your question more succinctly, it’s probably Iowa State. I’d say Nebraska and Minnesota are probably somewhere in second, with Wisconsin falling not so far behind. The Quadrangle of Hate is strong.

What is the best food I can get at Kinnick Stadium? What’s the best bang for my buck?

I’ll save you a trip to the concessions - it’s all fucking bad and expensive. Make friends with people that have food outside the stadium and tailgate hard.

Did Iowa really offer to pay Mike Riley’s salary out of their budget if Nebraska would keep him on for three more years? And Admit it. Bob Diaco was also on your payroll as a secret double agent.

I plead the fifth (definitely yes to both).

Do you expect to kick our ass as badly as you did last season? What’s going to happen in this year’s game?

I definitely didn’t expect the ass kicking in 2016, but the one last season is probably more surprising. I’d never expect for a 6-5 team to walk into Memorial Stadium and beat the living hell out of a Nebraska team, regardless of how mediocre that team is. Factor in that Iowa had lost the previous two games and scored two offensive touchdowns combined in the two, I never expected them to throw down 56 points in a road game.

Anywho, I have no idea what will happen this season. I don’t expect Nebraska to be good, especially early, but I have no idea how they’ll look by season’s end and that makes this game that much harder to predict in the preseason. At this point, I expect an Iowa victory, and I expect a relatively comfortable victory, although nowhere near the beatings from the past two years. Right now, let’s go with Iowa by two scores? That sounds believable enough right now. We’ll revisit this in 12 weeks.