116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Matt Campbell just kind of laughed.
It wasn’t a full belly laugh or anything. More of a subtle chuckle.
A resigned one, in a way.
Campbell was told at his weekly news conference by a reporter that Iowa has not had any turnovers in the four games it has played against the Cyclones since Campbell has been ISU’s head coach. Iowa has not so ironically won all four of those games.
Campbell was asked how difficult it is to be turnover-less, especially considering two of those games were played in the highly-hostile environment for opponents at Jack Trice Stadium.
“I think that’s the respect you have, honestly, for their program, and how they win football games,” Campbell said. “They do such a great job of creating the tempo and pace of the game in their favor, and putting themselves at an advantage to win the football game at the end of the game. On the flip side, when you’ve seen us play at our best, it’s very similar.”
Let’s look back at the four games talked about here:
2016: Iowa strolled to a 42-3 win in Iowa City. Turnovers obviously were not the story. The only one in this game was an interception of a Joel Lanning pass by Iowa linebacker Ben Niemann.
2017: That memorable game Iowa won in overtime at Ames, 44-41, had just one turnover. It was an interception of a Jacob Park pass by Iowa defensive end Parker Hesse that led to a Hawkeyes field goal. Kind of significant.
2018: Iowa defensive end Chauncey Golston pounced on a fumble in the final two minutes after Iowa State quarterback Zeb Noland was sacked. That officially put away a 13-3 Hawkeyes victory at Kinnick Stadium.
2019: Turnovers were huge in Iowa’s 18-17 weather-delayed win in Ames. A fumble recovery by defensive back Gene Stone led to a Hawkeyes field goal. Then with 1:37 left, ISU’s Datrone Young inadvertently collided with returner Deshaunte Jones as he was about to field a Michael Sleep-Dalton punt near the sideline, the football deflecting off Young’s back, with Iowa’s Devonte Young pouncing on it to cinch the game. Yeah, really significant there.
“You look at our matchups against them, turning the ball over at some critical moments at critical times have really hindered us,” Campbell said. “That’s a great stat and really a telling stat at how they win, and, when I think we’ve had great success, how we win.”
The obvious question becomes can Iowa continue to play clean football when it and Iowa State play Saturday in a battle of top-10 teams nationally? Can the Cyclones play clean and perhaps force an interception or fumble that swings what appears to be an even game?
The game at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames is 3:30 p.m. (ABC).
“Little moments, we know can make or break a game,” said Iowa State center Colin Newell. “If we want to be a good detailed-oriented (team) that executes at the highest level we can, those are the moments that we have to win. No matter how big or how small. That’s just something that we feel we can grow in a sense. Just continue to get better at. It’s learning opportunities. We were able to do some stuff, yet there was definitely some stuff we’ve got to work on, too.”
Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras did not have any picks last week in his team’s 34-6 season-opening rout of Indiana, but he has not played a true road game in his career. The redshirt junior started all eight games for the Hawkeyes last season, but obviously there was a dearth of fans at Purdue, Illinois, Penn State and Minnesota.
That won’t be true Saturday.
“It’s one more thing that adds to the degree of difficulty,” said Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz. “To your point, especially coming off last year, we have some guys that played last year, but they don’t know what it’s like to go on the road in a hostile environment. We have a lot of those in our conference, and then you throw this one in, too, this is as loud as any of them.
“It’s one more thing that really can take you off your game a little bit, or throw you off, and you have to concentrate your way through. It can be impactful, so it’s just one more element to deal with in an already tough contest as it sits there. It’s a challenge.”
Iowa intercepted Indiana’s Michael Penix Jr. three times last week, including a pair of pick-6 touchdowns by cornerback Riley Moss. Iowa State knows it will be going up against one of the top pass defenses around.
“They are intelligent DBs,” said Iowa State receiver Xavier Hutchinson, who had a team-high seven catches for 88 yards last week in a 16-10 win over Northern Iowa. “They are definitely coached right, you can tell that. I haven’t really watched too much (film), yet. But from what I’ve seen, they are really quick on their feet. They kind of play the same way UNI does, so maybe try and hit them with a quick game or maybe try and show them something with the QB’s eyes and actually run something different behind it I feel would be sort of our game plan.”
“This is a big game for everyone,” said Iowa State linebacker Mike Rose. “Especially for a lot of veterans on our team, we haven’t beaten them, yet. So that’s definitely on our minds and stuff. But it’s not our main focus. For us, we have got to know that’s on the table, then we’ve also got to treat it as any other game. Because every game is super important. You’ve just got to use this game to keep building, building to where we want to go.”
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