Game Preview: Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders
We have reached the final weekend of Iowa's non-conference season. Iowa will welcome the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State to beautiful and historic Kinnick Stadium for an 11 A.M. kickoff. Iowa enters off a much needed bye week that allowed some wounds to heal in the defensive secondary, although we are unlikely to see any of them return to action this week. Iowa enters ranked 14th in both the Coaches and AP Poll with a record of 3-0 (1-0 in the Big Ten). Middle Tennessee State also enters off a bye week following a 41-18 drubbing at the hands of the Duke Blue Devils. The Blue Raiders will come to Iowa City with a record of 1-2 on the season.
Iowa's Offense Against The Blue Raider Defense
The Iowa offense should have a huge advantage over the Middle Tennessee defense. Prior to their bye week, the Blue Raiders got trounced by a 1-2 Duke Blue Devil team, and I expect much of the same out of Iowa. According to Sports Reference, the Blue Raider defense is allowing over 460 yards of total offense per week, over 220 yards on the ground, and opposing ball carriers are averaging 5.0 yards per carry.
I expect this to be the coming out party for Iowa's stable of running backs. Iowa should run all over this defense, and I don't expect Nate Stanley to throw the ball much at all. Tyler Goodson and Ivory Kelly-Martin should see an expanded role in this offensive gameplan, as I expect this game to be decided early. I would look for the Iowa starters to be out of the game by the 4th quarter, which means Spencer Petras should get some opportunities to throw the football. The Iowa offense should be dominant in this one, and should be running on all cylinders heading to Ann Arbor next weekend.
Iowa's Defense Against The Blue Raider Offense
Of the unit matchups this weekend, this should be the most entertaining. Iowa's defense has produced a solid amount of pressure through the first three games of the season. I expect this game to be the one where those pressures torey finally get the sack number to illustrate that pressure. In their previous contest, the Middle Tennessee offensive line allowed 6 sacks and I would expect Iowa to have similar success. The biggest challenge for this Iowa defense with be Blue Raider quarterback Asher O'hara. O'hara is a mobile quarterback, who is rushing for nearly 100 yards per game. If Iowa wants to hold this Blue Raider offense in check, they need to force O'hara to be a passer and force him to compete through the air.
I don't expect special teams to have much impact in this game. Keith Duncan may get a couple of opportunities in field goal kicking, but I don't expect to see much of Michael Sleep-Dalton.
Ultimately, Middle Tennesse is a classic example of a team that should be completely overmatched, but if Iowa lets them hang around, they will become progressively more dangerous. Iowa's offense should have a field day and I expect them to put up a crooked number, with their stable of running backs leading the way. I also expect Iowa's defense to have a good day, with them finally producing the sack numbers that everyone would expect. The defense will allow a few big scrambles from the Blue Raider quarterback, but should keep him mostly contained.
This game will be decided early, with the final score making the game seem closer than it really was.
Middle Tennessee 10
As always, On Iowa! and Go Hawks!
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