Hawkeyes Gameday: Top storylines vs. Indiana
Iowa has allowed two 100-yard receivers this season. Geronimo Allison of Illinois had eight catches for 148 yards. Tyler Boyd of Pittsburgh had 10 catches for 131 yards.
We introduce you to Indiana’s Simmie Cobbs Jr., who will be trying to pass the 100-yard mark for the third straight game on Saturday.
Cobbs Jr., had five catches for 108 yards against Michigan State and seven catches for 107 yards against Rutgers.
For the season, three different Hoosiers have had at least 100 receiving yards in a game. Ricky Jones has done it three times – nine catches for 119 yards against Rutgers; five catches for 126 yards against Western Kentucky; and six catches for 186 yards against Southern Illinois. Mitchell Paige had eight catches for 126 yards against Rutgers.
For the season, all three receivers have more than 30 receptions. Jones has 37 for 669 yards (18.1 average) and five touchdowns. Cobbs Jr., has 34 for 532 yards (15.6) and three touchdowns. And Paige has 31 for 365 yards (11.8) and two touchdowns. Ten different Hoosiers have made at least one catch for 20 yards or more.
One of Indiana’s receivers will get matched up with Thorpe Award contender Desmond King, Iowa’s junior cornerback. King is tied for the lead nationally with seven interceptions, and needs one more to tie the school record set by Nile Kinnick in 1939 and matched by Lou King in 1981. King is also second in the Big Ten in passes defended, with 14.
“Hopefully, they keep throwing his way and he can make more great plays and more interceptions,” Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell said.
GOING TO THE AIR
Iowa has allowed just one rushing touchdown this season, and the defense is giving up an average of 85.8 yards on the ground through eight games. That ranks fifth nationally.
So, it’s no surprise that teams have taken to the air against the Hawkeyes. Opponents have called 283 passing plays and 245 rushing plays against Iowa. Northwestern, Illinois and North Texas all attempted 43 passes. Wisconsin put it up 38 times, Iowa State 35 and Pittsburgh 31.
Iowa has allowed 201.9 yards passing a game, which ranks seventh in the Big Ten. None of the six teams ahead of Iowa in that statistical category have defended more than 270 passes this season.
Indiana’s balance, surprisingly, leans toward the run. The Hoosiers have run the ball 350 times and passed it 274 times. Indiana has thrown more than 40 passes in a game just once this season.
TIME ON SUDFELD'S SIDE
Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who injured his non-throwing shoulder last season at Iowa and missed the final six games, is on the brink of history.
He shares the school record for most career touchdown passes with 48. Sudfeld has a career completion rate of 61.2 percent, which would also be an all-time best.
Sudfeld has completed 142 of 226 passes this season, with 14 touchdowns to four interceptions. One reason he’s so accurate is because of the offensive line protecting him. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz calls this the best offensive line Iowa will have faced this season.
Here’s proof – tackles Jason Spriggs and Dimitric Camiel, guards Dan Feeney and Wes Martin and center Jake Reed have allowed just 10 sacks. That ties Ohio State for the fewest sacks given up in the Big Ten this season. Feeney has allowed just one sack in 32 career starts and 2,377 snaps.
Iowa and Michigan State are tied for the Big Ten lead in turnover margin at plus-10. The Hawkeyes have recovered seven fumbles to go with 12 interceptions. Iowa has lost six fumbles and been intercepted three times. Iowa has a 70-30 edge in points after turnovers.
Indiana ranks fourth in the Big Ten in turnover margin at plus-6. The Hoosiers have outscored teams after turnovers, 65-41.
Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.