The football programs at Iowa and Iowa State are getting closer to playing games at Kinnick Stadium and Jack Trice Stadium.
And for the Hawkeyes, the games can’t get here soon enough.
Iowa will be without four players and three starters for the opener against Northern Illinois, which kicks off at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 1.
All four players play on the lines of scrimmage.
The Hawks will be without both starting offensive tackles Tristan Wirfs and Alaric Jackson. They also will not have defensive tackles Cedrick Lattimore and Brady Reiff.
I would be naive to say that this only happens at the University of Iowa. But it still stinks. We won’t ever know what Jackson and Lattimore did to be suspended as the Iowa press release states they “violated team rules.”
Jackson though missed last year’s bowl game so he’s already at two strikes. I would expect senior Dalton Ferguson, junior Levi Paulsen and freshman Mark Kallenberger to be in the mix for both opening positions.
Reiff was Lattimore’s backup last year so both guys in one of the tackles positions are out for Week 1.
The good news is defensive line is one of the best position groups for Iowa this season. I expect Matt Nelson to move inside and Sam Brincks to also start on the line.
This also may be a great time to push playing time on A.J. Epenesa.
I think Iowa will be fine as far as winning goes. The Northern Illinois offense doesn’t scare me, but the defense could pose some issues for the line and the Iowa offense.
You often don’t get too much information at the annual preseason media days, but Iowa’s session on Friday afternoon may now be more interesting. I imagine head coach Kirk Ferentz will say a few things about it.
And I wouldn’t be surprised if the team finds a way to keep the four suspended players away from the the media on that day.
Speaking of media days, I was at Iowa State’s on Tuesday. The hype around the Cyclones hasn’t been as high as it is right now since maybe the Dan McCarney era. That was the last time the Cyclones went 9-3.
Matt Campbell led the Cyclones to 8-5 last year. He’s a bright young coach who is trying to build something special in Ames. He’s now going to have fight off rumors that he may be heading to Ohio State if Urban Meyer is fired.
For me, I don’t think Urban is going anywhere.
The school clearly doesn’t want to fire him. They would have already done it if they wanted to.
I think Campbell would be a good candidate for Columbus in his future. But I am not sure he ends up there within the next few seasons.
Iowa State’s 2018 team should be competitive.
It’s hard to predict what we saw last year because counting on wins over a pair of top-five teams every year is not realistic. The Cyclones did lose a few close games that they could win this season.
That game in Iowa City on Sept. 8 could be key in both programs getting to eight or more wins.
So far, Iowa State will be at full strength when it hosts South Dakota State on Sept. 1.
Defensive lineman Kamilo Tongamoa was suspended indefinitely in January for his DUI arrest. Campbell said before the start of fall camp that Tongamoa is no longer suspended and he will play against South Dakota State.
Football season is almost here. Plan accordingly.
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