IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) Kirk Ferentz and Dan McCarney spent nine years working together and eight years coaching on opposite sides of the bitter Iowa-Iowa State rivalry.
McCarney will return to Iowa on Saturday in a strange new role. He'll be bringing with him North Texas (0-2), the team Ferentz and the Hawkeyes (3-0) plan on using as a tune-up for Big Ten play.
McCarney, who was born in Iowa City, played at Iowa and worked alongside Ferentz under legendary Hawkeyes coach Hayden Fry, will make his first appearance in Kinnick Stadium since 2006 - his last in charge of the Cyclones.
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It'll be a bittersweet matchup for Ferentz, who first teamed up with McCarney, Bill Snyder, Barry Alvarez and other future head coaches while working for Fry in 1981.
''The only downside has been having to compete against each other. It's probably four or five guys that I think I've worked with that we end up being on the opposite sidelines, and that's not much fun, quite frankly,'' Ferentz said.
Saturday's reunion is expected to resemble the blowouts McCarney suffered at the hands of Fry and the Hawkeyes early in his 12-year tenure as the coach at Iowa State.
North Texas (0-2) is about a 24-point underdog to Iowa, which is off to its best start in six years after a dramatic 27-24 win over Pittsburgh.
Here are some of the story lines to follow as Ferentz and McCarney prepare to get reacquainted:
KOEHN IS ABLE: Iowa kicker Marshall Koehn's 57-yard, game-winning field goal to beat Pitt wasn't as much of a longshot as it originally appeared to be. Koehn has hit 15 of his last 16 field goals dating back to last season, and he's 4 for 4 in 2015 - all on kicks of 40 yards or longer. Koehn was short on his first try at the end of regulation against the Panthers, but they nullified the miss by calling timeout. ''It's always nice to have a practice swing,'' Koehn said. Koehn also leads the Big Ten with an average of 64 yards per kickoff.
MCNULTY NO BUNK: North Texas quarterback Andrew McNulty is coming off the best game of his career, throwing for 303 yards in a 38-24 loss to Rice last week. His main target was Carlos Harris, who had eight grabs for 193 yards against the Owls. Expect Iowa to use star cornerback Desmond King on Harris, who's now 12th nationally with 116.5 receiving yards per game.
CLOSING IN ON BARRY: The first person Ferentz says he met in Iowa was Alvarez, who picked him up at the airport for his interview with Fry. With a win Saturday, Ferentz can join Alvarez in some elite Big Ten company. Ferentz has 118 wins, one shy of the former Wisconsin coach for ninth among league coaches.
NOT-SO MEAN GREEN: North Texas has dropped 12 straight non-conference road games and is 1-37 on the road out of league since 2001. It'll be tough for the Mean Green to end that streak unless McNulty has a huge game, because they're 98th nationally in rushing offense and Iowa is fifth in rushing defense.
MEOW? Though Ferentz and McCarney have always been friends, their relationship understandably took a bit of a break during McCarney's tenure at Iowa State. ''I mean cats don't like dogs, right? I mean, not that they don't like each other, but it's just natural. We're not going to be buddy-buddy, and that's just how it goes,'' Ferentz said.
AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org
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