IOWA CITY, Iowa – In its own strange way, the rivalry between Iowa and Iowa State has become predictable.
The Hawkeyes are expected to pound the underdog Cyclones nearly every year.
Almost without fail, it doesn't happen.
Iowa State has a habit of making life miserable for the rival Hawkeyes, winning six of 11 meetings against Iowa. No. 9 Iowa (1-0) is again a prohibitive favorite over Iowa State (1-0), but the Hawkeyes don't expect much to come easy when they host the Cyclones on Saturday.
"It's been one of those series where both teams have been very competitive. They have had some excellent football teams," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
The Cyclones didn't look so hot last year, losing 35-3 at home to their in-state rival.
Much of the blame was placed on quarterback Austen Arnaud. Iowa's defense bruised and confused Arnaud for three quarters, and he threw four interceptions before being pulled.
How Arnaud responds to the worst game of his career may well decide if Iowa State can pull off the upset.
Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads acknowledged that he's worried Arnaud will try to do too much.
"It is the biggest concern going into this game, because of his personality, because of his competitiveness," Rhoads said. "To get him not to press, to get him to go through his reads and throw balls away when he should as opposed to forcing them, that is a concern."
Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi has also shown a penchant for throwing interceptions, and Iowa State's secondary looks to be the strength of a unit that performed better than expected in a 27-10 win over Northern Illinois in the season opener.
The Cyclones held Huskies quarterback DeMarcus Grady to 93 passing yards and forced three interceptions. This week, they get back safety David Sims, the 2009 Big 12 defensive newcomer of the year.
Stanzi completed 18 of 23 passes for 229 yards and no picks in last week's 37-7 win over Eastern Illinois. But Stanzi wasn't all that thrilled with his performance.
"It looks good on paper, but there were definitely some passes that should have been made that were easy and could have made that number even better, and then I would have been happy with it," said Stanzi, who tweaked his knee in the second quarter but came away unscathed.
Saturday's game also marks the return of Iowa running back Jewel Hampton, who missed 2009 because of a knee injury and was suspended for the opener. He will likely split time with Adam Robinson, who rushed for 109 yards and three touchdowns against Eastern Illinois.
Hampton is so fired up to play that his coaches had to sit him down this week to make sure he paces himself.
"I've been waiting a long time," Hampton said. "I'm going to be running on jet fuel."
If ever there was a game that defined the recent trend of this rivalry, it came in 2007. The Cyclones beat Iowa, 15-13, without scoring a touchdown.
But finding the end zone has become a major problem for Iowa State against the Hawkeyes.
The Cyclones have not scored a touchdown in the series since the first half in 2006, a stretch that's reached a staggering 14 quarters.
Iowa's defense has been the biggest factor Iowa State's futility, and the Hawkeyes looked as stout as ever in holding Eastern Illinois to 157 yards and six first downs in the opener.
If the Cyclones can't do more than kick field goals Saturday, the result will likely be what most are predicting.
"We don't see any weak spots," Rhoads said of Iowa. "We certainly have our work cut out for us."
(This version CORRECTS to its, not it's, in 1st paragraph.)