AMES, Iowa – Iowa has won at Iowa State just once since 2003, even though the Hawkeyes have been favored each time.
Iowa is the favorite again in Saturday's in-state showdown after Iowa State played poorly in its season-opening loss to Northern Iowa. That means very little, especially when the series is played in Ames, as it will be this season.
Iowa was ranked No. 8 when the unranked Cyclones won 23-3 in 2005. Six years ago, Iowa State followed up an ugly home loss to Northern Iowa with five field goals and a 15-13 victory.
Iowa's 35-3 thrashing of the Cyclones in Ames in 2009 was surprisingly lopsided. Iowa State won 44-41 in triple overtime two years ago behind a performance from quarterback Steele Jantz that no one expected and never saw again.
The Cyclones (0-1) are again coming off a loss to the FCS Panthers. Iowa (1-1) hasn't looked like anything special, either. If the last decade is any indication, Saturday's game could end up being another entertaining, mistake-filled spectacle between two rivals desperate for a win ahead of conference play.
"It will be a tough ball game like always. Anytime I think we get together, it's usually a pretty good game. I expect them to be ready to go, and they're an aggressive ballclub," said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, who is just 6-8 against Iowa State.
Here are five things to look out for when Iowa and Iowa State meet for the 61st time:
1. STOPPING WEISMAN: Iowa State's defense was gashed by Northern Iowa running back David Johnson for 199 yards and four total touchdowns in a 28-20 loss. The Hawkeyes have a better offensive line than the Panthers, and Mark Weisman is ranked ninth nationally with 280 yards rushing through just two games. If the Cyclones can't contain the physical Weisman, expect the Hawkeyes to call his number all evening.
"He's a dang good football player," Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said.
2. RICHARDSON WATCH: Cyclones sophomore quarterback Sam Richardson sprained his ankle in the loss to Northern Iowa, but Rhoads and his staff have insisted that he'll be fine by Saturday. Still, Richardson is by far the most important player the Cyclones have, and they'll be in trouble if he's limited in any way. Richardson threw for 242 yards and two TDs and also led Iowa State with 74 yards rushing in the opener.
3. BALL HAWKS?: Iowa might be forced to start freshman cornerback Desmond King for the second week in a row as Jordan Lomax continues to work back from a hamstring injury. King has shown plenty of athletic ability in the first two games of his career, but he's also been burned more than once. The other Hawkeyes cornerback, B.J. Lowery, is the better player for now so King might see a lot of balls thrown his way by the Cyclones.
4. KNOTT AGAIN: Freshman Luke Knott, the little brother of former Cyclones star Jake, will get the nod after missed assignments cost Jevohn Miller his spot. Luke, a converted prep quarterback, helped steady the defense when he replaced Miller against Northern Iowa. "He played better," Rhoads said. Iowa State will also use junior college transfer Aaron Wimberly as its main kick returner.
5. RUDOCK ON THE ROAD: Iowa sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock will make his first road start on Saturday. Rudock has completed 61.5 percent of his passes despite a number of drops from his receivers, and three of his 11 rushes have gone for touchdowns. Rudock has also thrown three picks though, and he knows he'll have to take care of the ball against Iowa State's active defense. "They fly to the ball," Rudock said. "They make you earn yards."
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