Run game key as Hawkeyes prepare for Rutgers’ first trip to Kinnick

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Rutgers was one of the worst in the Big Ten at stopping the run last season, while Iowa was one of the best, so Saturday’s game will likely come down to each team’s rushing attack.

Iowa sophomore safety Kaevon Merriweather says the Rutgers’ ground game sets up their entire offense.

“They like to run outside, run inside, and then they’ll try and hit you with the long ball,” Merriweather said. “We kind of looked at the film from a few years ago and then we’re looking at their game against UMass and just seeing the things that they like to do.”

Rutgers has been downright awful since joining the Big Ten in 2014. The Scarlet Knights are just 7-33 in conference play. They’re currently on a 12-game conference losing streak, but Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz says he’s seen improvement.

“They clearly made progress last year,” Ferentz said. “I think that carried over into this season. They played four of their five opponents at the end of season, all five of the last opponents were really good football teams, and four of those games really they played very well.”

A win on Saturday would be the Hawks’ first in a conference opener since 2016. That victory came against Rutgers in New Jersey in the only previous meeting between the two programs.

“Your technique really has to be good because you don’t know exactly what they’re gonna come and do,” Iowa senior cornerback Michael Ojemudia said. “There’s not much film, so you just have to be techincally sound. So with not much tape on them yet, it’s going to be a challenge to see what they come in and do.”

“They have some new personnel that we’re not used to, so we have to do our due dilgence and make sure that we know the possibilities of what could happen, what they could throw at us,” Iowa senior quarterback Nate Stanley said.

Iowa and Rutgers kick off the Big Ten season on Saturday morning at Kinnick Stadium at 11 a.m.

The Hawkeyes are around a 20-point favorite in the matchup.

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