Week 3 Game Matchup: Arizona Wildcats VS. Iowa Hawkeyes
Arizona Wildcats (2-0) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (2-0)
Saturday, September 19, 12:35 PM PST
Las Vegas Favorite: Iowa -4.0
Sam’s Take (14 – 4):
This will be a great measuring stick for Mike Stoops and the Wildcats, as they head to a very hostile Kinnick Stadium to play the Iowa Hawkeyes. I foresee a low-scoring game between these two teams, as both Arizona and Iowa play sound defense and will look to run the football on offense.
For Arizona, it all starts with RB Nic Grigsby, who has been spectacular through the first two games (2nd in nation with 325 rushing yards, 3 TDs). Grigsby and backup Keola Antolin have become the focal point of Sonny Dykes’ normally pass-happy offense, but that is to be expected while QB Matt Scott continues to progress as a passer.
This may be the game that we find out if Scott is ready for primetime. Unfortunately for the ‘Cats signal caller, a major piece of the offense will not be back this week as TE Rob Gronkowski will miss yet another game. Gronk has been out since the start of the season, and it looked like he was on track to play Saturday, but his back problems seem to be lingering.
Sonny Dykes must be creative with his other offensive options, as Arizona is facing arguably the best defense in the Big Ten. Iowa may have struggled a bit in the opening win over Northern Iowa, but the Haweyes D will certainly present a lot of problems for UA.
Mark Stoops Wildcats defense will also be a handful for Iowa, and I look for a very talented UA secondary to make things extremely difficult for QB Ricky Stanzi. The key for Iowa’s offense will be whether or not they can establish a running game.
In the end I think Nic Grigsby will be the biggest difference maker on the field Saturday, and his stellar play combined with another strong defensive performance by UA should be just enough to secure the win.
Prediction: Arizona 24 – Iowa 20
Arizona Player to Keep an Eye On: CB Trevin Wade - He is starting to emerge as a big-play cornerback who can intercept anything in his area, and I look for him to make an impact this week.
Arizona Player to Keep an Eye On: RBs Brandon Wegher and Adam Robinson - The loss of projected starter Jewel Hampton (out for season with knee injury) opened the door for Wegher and Robinson to emerge, and so far, they have not disappointed. I expect both to see significant time and they will be two major offensive keys this Saturday.
Dave’s Take (14 – 4):
An extremely ugly win that should have been a loss to Northern Iowa in the season opener has dropped the Hawkeyes out of the national spotlight; but this team is still very strong, and even if the general public is willing to ignore this, I’m not.
Equipped with a solid defensive line and one of the best linebacking cores in the country, I believe Iowa will be prepared to slow down Nic Grigsby and Keola Antolin and force Matt Scott to make some big plays to beat them. Is he ready for it?
I’m not sure that he is. Scott hasn’t played poorly in his first two games, but he hasn’t faced a defense nearly as strong as Iowa’s, and he hasn’t taken his game on the road yet, either.
On defense, Arizona showed us plenty in shutting down Central Michigan, and while they weren’t at the top of their game in giving up 17 points to Northern Arizona, I chalk that up to not taking that game all too seriously. Iowa has a decent attack led by QB Ricky Stanzi, but I’m not too worried about the Wildcats’ athletic defense.
I think this one will be a good smash-mouth football game, and yards should be difficult to come by. If Rob Gronkowski had returned for this one and given Matt Scott that safety net, I may have taken the Wildcats, but in a game that will likely come down to who makes less mistakes, I have to take the more experienced quarterback at home to eek out the win.
Prediction: Iowa 17 – Arizona 13