A journey back to the beginning of sorts.
“It’s pretty fun, it gives you a high school feel,” Tyler Linderbaum said.
It’s Friday night lights.
Everyone’s favorite. Except now instead of walking out of seventh period and onto the field surrounded by bleachers, they’re walking off a plane and into a 54,000 seat stadium.
Excitement is definitely high among fans.
“We’re anticipating a full house, a sold-out crowd,” Linderbaum said.
The team too. But some are more excited than others.
“This makes the October deadline, so I’ll say I’m okay with October on,” Moon Family Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Maybe excitement isn’t really the right word, but you get the point.
There’s also added pressure. The No. 5 Hawkeyes already know there’s a target on their back. They’ve said it every week; they’re going to get everyone’s best shot. That’s nothing new.
But now being one of the few games of the day, all eyes in the college football world will be on them. If there’s one thing this Hawkeye team has shown in this young season though, it’s that they welcome a challenge.
“I think it’s pretty cool because all the attention is on you,” Linderbaum said. “All the teams that play Saturday are going to be watching the game, all the fans will be watching.”
Maybe a not-so-welcome challenge though is the short week. One less day to prepare is already hard enough. It’s just their luck it’s against one of the most explosive passing attacks in the country.
“I think you have to try to figure out quickly what it is you want to try to do and your plan is fairly concise because the biggest thing, it’s like any week,” Ferentz said. “You’ve got to make sure you can get the information across to your players where they have the chance to execute it.”
They’ve had short weeks in the past and history is on their side. In fact, they did it three times last year. All were Hawkeye W’s. The key? Like most everything else with this program, it’s consistency.
“We just do what we do each and every week,” Tyler Goodson said. “We just focus on the opponent that’s upcoming this week and prepare like we always do. That’s just focus on the details, practice and keep getting better fundamentally, so when Fridays, Saturdays come around, we’ll be successful.”
With that being said, it’s a short week for Maryland too, so the excitement and the challenges aren’t unique. Who knows what will happen? (We do. Scroll down.)
Win or lose, at least your Saturday will be free to watch a pretty strong slate of afternoon football with absolutely no emotional attachment. There’s a couple of top-15 SEC matchups that will figure to affect polls at the end of the year. It just means more, amirite? Yuck.
You can also watch Iowa State and Nebraska and hope they lose.
Or free yourself from the mental prison that is sports. Take the rare opportunity to enjoy a Saturday in the fall without the stress of your favorite team inevitably disappointing you or your parlay falling apart on the last game of the night. Just kidding. That’s what summer is for.
Now let’s get to the picks.
Kickoff: Friday, Oct. 1 at 7:00 p.m.
Location: Maryland Stadium, College Park, MD
Spread: Iowa -3
Dennis Dodd: Maryland
Tom Fornelli: Maryland
Chip Patterson: Maryland
Barrett Sallee: Maryland
David Cobb: Iowa
Shehan Jeyarajah: Maryland
Jerry Palm: Iowa
John Garcia: Maryland
Molly Geary: Iowa
Ross Dellenger: Iowa
Pat Forde: Iowa
Richard Johnson: Maryland
Kerry Miller: Iowa 23, Maryland 14
Mike Bainbridge: Maryland 24, Iowa 23
Chris Hummer: Iowa 24, Maryland 20
Brad Crawford: Iowa 27, Maryland 20
Stewart Mandel: Maryland 24, Iowa 20
Dan Santaromita: Iowa
Jason Starrett: Maryland
Chris Vannini: Maryland
Hawkeye State Predictions
Quad City Times
Steve Batterson: Iowa 24, Maryland 13
Taulia Tagovailoa and the Maryland offense have had no problem moving the football. Reaching the end zone has been problematic at times, however and that plays into the hands of an Iowa defense which is allowing a Big Ten-low 11 points per game. As long as the Hawkeyes can limit the Terps’ big plays and if Iowa can turn Maryland over as it did against Indiana and Iowa State, a road win is likely.
Scott Dochterman: Iowa 31, Maryland 17
Brendan Stiles: Iowa 28, Maryland 14
Tyler Tjelmeland: Iowa 30, Maryland 13
Jack Brandsgard: Iowa 20, Maryland 17
John Patchett: Iowa 27, Maryland 17
Cody Hills: Iowa 38, Maryland 14
Totally relevant irrelevant prediction simulation
The artist formerly known as HawkeyeHQ.com’s Ryan Jaster: Maryland 14, Iowa 0
Consensus: This one of the more divisive games so far. 12 of the 29 picked Maryland to pull off the upset and others have it close. It’s definitely a fun upset pick, as Maryland is undefeated too. This game matches up an explosive offense with one of the best defenses in the country. Plus, it’s a blackout, primetime home game. In terms of theatrics, does it get any bigger than that? It’s got to do something in terms of momentum for the home team. So far the defense has answered the bell literally every time. What happens the one time they don’t? They’ve thrived off turnovers. Maryland only has four on the season. The Terrapins haven’t played a defense nearly as strong as Iowa’s, but it’s likely Iowa hasn’t played an offense as dynamic as Maryland’s. It’s going to be a statement by whatever unit wins that battle. Regardless of how the defense does, the Hawkeye offense will need to put up some points. The passing game got going last week, the rushing attack was rolling the week before. Now they just need to put it together. Coach Ferentz said at some point they’re going to need to score 40 to win a game. Could this be that game?