116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Las Vegas seems to be expecting a big night from Iowa football Saturday against Nevada.
Iowa’s offense has scored only 14 points through two games, yet sportsbooks have the Hawkeyes as 23-point favorites.
Whether Iowa wins should not be much of a question. How it wins will be telling, though, heading into Big Ten play.
Does Iowa’s offense hold onto the ball?
Iowa has no shortage of concerning offensive statistics, but one in particular has stood out so much to Kirk Ferentz that he brought it up in his Tuesday news conference and Wednesday radio show.
Iowa has given the ball up five times through the first two games.
“To think that we're going to win the way we want to win the next 10 weeks — going five every two games — that's unrealistic,” Ferentz said Tuesday.
Iowa’s defense has a major talent advantage over Nevada’s offense. However, if Iowa’s offense has an interception or fumble well inside its own territory, the Wolf Pack could linger longer than Hawkeye fans would likely be comfortable with on Saturday night.
Does Spencer Petras’ footwork improve?
Ferentz made it clear Spencer Petras will get the starting nod again at quarterback despite subpar performances against South Dakota State and Iowa State.
Petras said Tuesday the problems he’s had in 2022 have gone down to his “feet and timing.”
Saturday will be an opportunity for Petras to refine those attributes against some easier competition than the Hawkeyes have faced in the previous two weeks.
Nevada’s defense, after giving up 55 points to Incarnate Word, ranks 86th in efficiency, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index.
If Iowa’s offensive line can contain Nevada defensive tackle Dom Peterson, that would especially make Petras’ job easier. Peterson ranks in the top five all-time at Nevada in tackles for loss and sacks.
Can the rest of Iowa’s receivers stay healthy?
The absences of Keagan Johnson, Nico Ragaini and Diante Vines and the limited workload for Brody Brecht has put a lot of pressure on the rest of Iowa’s receiving corps.
Wide receiver Arland Bruce IV, who also has special teams responsibilities, has taken more snaps through two games in 2022 than in the first eight games of 2021.
The Hawkeyes also have needed to rely heavily on tight end Sam LaPorta, who likely could’ve gone to the NFL last year but instead stayed for another year in Iowa City.
Keeping Bruce and LaPorta healthy will be vital heading into Big Ten play.
What’s at stake
A win would mean Iowa would need to go 4-5 in Big Ten play to be eligible for a bowl — what should be a doable feat with the weakness of the Big Ten West this season.
Saturday’s game also will be a prime opportunity to boost the confidence of a struggling offense. On the other hand, if the offense does not look smooth against a Nevada team that gave up 55 points to Incarnate Word, it’d be another red flag.
Iowa has more talent than Nevada at essentially every position group.
Iowa 20, Nevada 3