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September 6, 2007With a drubbing by the hands of the Washington Huskies out of their minds, the Syracuse Orange head to Kinnick Stadium for a rematch of last year's 20-13 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes. Last year's double overtime thriller was exciting and this one should be no different.
While both teams struggle to put points on the scoreboard, fans should see fast paced action in spurts as the Hawkeyes running game is a sight to behold. If the Orange can get some kind of contribution from their running game then we will be in for something exciting.
If the Orange want to be successful with putting points on the scoreboard, they will have to find the running game. Last week against Washington, redshirt freshman Derrell Smith led the rushing game with only 19 yards, which will not get it done against anybody.
Curtis Brinkley should have a better game than his seven rushes for 11 yards from a week ago.
And is there a doubt about Andrew Robinson at the quarterback position? In his first shot at being the leader, Robinson looked good going 20-32 for 199 yards and a touchdown.
The only downside to his performance were the seven sacks he had to encounter from an offensive line that couldn't hold up. If the O-Line can give Robinson some more time, we could easily see him pass for 200 yards and really test the Hawkeyes secondary.
The defense tried their best to stop Huskies running back Louis Rankin a week ago and Rankin still went for nearly 150 yards. This week things will not get any better for the Orange defense as the Hawkeyes bring two running backs who both went over 100 yards rushing last week.
The secondary looks as if it will be able to limit the balls that Hawkeye quarterback Jake Christensen will send through the air.
Safeties A.J. Brown and Dowayne Davies looked decent against Washington receivers and should feed off that performance to limit a sub par Hawkeye receiving core.
The Hawkeyes offense is pretty much the same from what the Orange saw last year at the Carrier Dome. Tailbacks Albert Young and Damien Sims controlled Iowa's game against Northern Illinois last week. The duo combined to rush for 258 yards and a touchdown.
Young and Sims both bring experience. Both are seniors and seem to make up for the lack of game experience sophomore quarterback Jake Christensen might have.
In the 16-3 victory over NIU last week, Christensen went 12-29 passing for 133 yards and one touchdown. Christensen was a third string quarterback a year ago and is now slowly learning what it takes to lead a team, so he could be a bit mistake prone.
Looking at his receiving targets, it is hard to identify his main weapon. This year's Hawkeye receivers have little to no game experience except for returning punts last year.
For as good as the offense might have looked last week against Northern Illinois, the Hawkeye defense completely shut down whatever running game NIU wanted to put together.
The Hawkeyes defensive line limited NIU to 59 total yards rushing and forced several three-and-outs. Even though NIU quarterback Dan Nicholson threw for 214 yards, it took him 42 attempts to get to that number and he was sacked three times to go along with three interceptions.
Defensive lineman Mitch King set the trend with two sacks (four tackles total) while defensive back Charles Godfrey came up with two of the three picks.
The experienced group's main cogs are seniors who have been through the wars.
Players to Watch: Albert Young and Damien Sims
We spoke on this duo before and they are the most important pieces to anything the Hawkeyes want to do. Both are similar in stature, 5-foot-10, 200 pounds and can pound the ball up the middle of the defense or stretch things to the outside. If Young and Sims don't get the offense going, it will be a struggle for the Hawkeyes. Just like the Orange, Iowa seems to have a problem putting points on the board.
If you are looking for a high scoring game, then this isn't for you. While the Orange only scored 12 points last week in the loss to Washington, Iowa didn't look too good either, only scoring 16 in its victory.
Still smarting from an embarrassing opening loss, look for the Orange to have an improved defensive performance as well as a more cohesive offensive line.
I'm calling for the major upset.