IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa is expected to snap its longest losing streak in 13 years on Saturday when it hosts Missouri State.
The Hawkeyes certainly can’t afford to let this shot at a win pass them. A home loss to an FCS opponent would be devastating to a program desperate for a victory.
Iowa (0-1) showed signs of progress in last week’s opener against Northern Illinois. But a late interception by new quarterback Jake Rudock helped the Huskies post a 30-27 win.
The loss made it seven straight since last season for the Hawkeyes, who haven’t been on such a skid since dropping 13 in a row in 1999-2000.
“I thought overall, our guys really handled a challenging week last week pretty well,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Now the challenge is, what can we do this week? Can we push forward and do the same thing? If we do that, we should see improvement.”
Missouri State (0-1) is 1-28 against FBS schools, and last week the Bears lost at home to Northwestern State. Here are five things to watch out for as Iowa hosts Missouri State for the first time:
SURGING OFFENSE?: Iowa’s offense was terrible in 2012, but the Hawkeyes had 24 first-half points against the Huskies. Iowa only scored three points after halftime, though, and it committed three costly turnovers. Rudock finished with 256 yards and a rushing and passing touchdown and Iowa outgained star QB Jordan Lynch and the Huskies in yardage, 458-438.
“It was fairly effective but we still want more points. And yardage is one thing, but when you get the turnovers and come up short on points, that’s tough,” Ferentz said.
POTENT POWELL: Iowa might have discovered the deep threat it’s been searching for in Damond Powell, but the junior college transfer isn’t quite there yet. The Hawkeyes targeted Powell twice on long pass plays, with Rudock finding Powell for a 49-yard completion before just missing him on a crucial 3rd down in the second half.
“We will try to grow him, grow his role a little bit. He wasn’t here in the spring so it’s a disadvantage,” Ferentz said. “He’s a high-energy guy, likes playing football. So we are going to try to keep him involved.”
FBS STRUGGLES: The Bears’ lone win over an FBS opponent came at UNLV in 1990, and they haven’t scored more than nine points in their last four games against top-tier competition. Missouri State played Kansas State and Louisville in back-to-back weeks last September and lost by 42 and 28 points respectively.
DEFENDING THE DEFENSE: Despite giving up 30 points and a game-winning field goal with four seconds left in last week’s loss, Iowa’s defense appeared to be stronger than it was a year ago. Iowa’s linebackers were active all afternoon, and leg issues for starting cornerbacks B.J. Lowey and Jordan Lomax might have been the biggest reason the Huskies found success in the air in the second half.
“We were flying around, so that looked great, but some of the big plays, like the deep balls, that we could have tried to prevent. We’ve got to fix those,” linebacker Christian Kirksey said.