Saturday, September 3, 2016, 12:30 p.m. Pacific time
Barney’s Beanery (3 locations: Santa Monica, Redondo Beach, and Pasadena)
IOWA VS MIAMI (OHIO)
Fresh off a stellar 2015 campaign, Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz seeks to repeat the historic 12-0 regular season finish and first Rose Bowl appearance since 1991. Returning seniors CJ Beathard and Desmond King give Hawkeye Nation more than enough reason to believe this season can be special as well, but winning with expectations high isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Let’s be honest, it’s difficult for any team to repeat an undefeated season. So is a 1 or 2 loss season a letdown? For some maybe, but more important than a blemish on a perfect season; is Iowa’s ability to position itself for the B10 Championship game again, and defeating the B10 East Champion. If the Hawkeyes want to be respected by the world, they have to win on the biggest stage; and a win in a college football playoff or Rose Bowl has to be the focus.
Iowa welcomes Miami University (Ohio) to the pink locker rooms this week, and while there’s no Ben Roethlisberger at the helm; they do field an experienced offense of 10 returning starters. Miami sure likes their QB’s tall. 6’4 sophomore Billy Bahl hopes to show his freshman growing pains were worth it, and will translate to greater on-field success. Alonzo Smith will handle the bulk of the carries and the experience across the front line should allow him to find some holes between the tackles. J’Terius Jones, Jr hopes to disrupt the Iowa offense, the 263 pounder is already topping list of potential 2016 All American candidates.
Joining Iowa’s Beathard is returning running back tandem LeShun Daniels, Jr and Akrum Wadley. Daniels a bruising powerback, Wadley delivers speed and finesse. Daniels is most effective when he hits the hole hard, but tended to be a bit hesitant after returning from injury. Wadley is the guy college football will be talking about very soon. We call him the “Northwestern Special”. Wideout Tevaun Smith is catching touchdown passes for the Colts now, but Matt Vandeburg will be the feature receiver, and when the ball is in his reach, he’s going to get it. If the Hawkeyes air attack is going to explode, Jerminic Smith is going to play a big role in it. He showed raw talent his freshman year, and if he’s developed timing with his QB’s and honed in on his catching ability (go figure), he’s the 2016 Breakout player for the Hawks.
Defensive Lineman Drew Ott was not granted an additional year by the NCAA committee, but the Iowa defense is loaded. The All American King wanted to finish what he started and brings the nastiness that can’t be replaced. What’s really exciting about the program is seeing a host of young players coming in and contributing early in their careers. This is a sign that recruiting is hitting the trail hard and doing a great job of recognizing talent. Josey Jewell and Parker Hesse are defensive wrecking balls and shining examples of that young talent Iowa has been able to attract.
2015 was a magical season, but the Rose Bowl lingers in both players and fans minds; so expect there to be a lot of motivation to settle for nothing less than perfection. With Beathard, the sky is the limit because he’s a winner and makes everyone around him better. College Football Saturday’s are back…In Black!