Four things the football teams from North Texas and Iowa can do to put themselves in a position to win in Saturday's 2:30 p.m. game at Kinnick Stadium.
North Texas (1-1)
1. Play ball control
Some teams control the game with the run. North Texas controls the clock with the pass. The Mean Green's air raid offense is built around a no-huddle, quickly-executed short passing game that pressures defenses with tempo and precision.
North Texas sophomore quarterback Mason Fine orchestrates an offense which has averaged 580.5 yards in its first two games.
The 5-foot-11 Oklahoma native threw for a career-high 424 yards last week in a 54-32 loss to SMU and has completed 47-of-68 passes through two games including 32-of-47 a week ago. Michael Lawrence and Jalen Guyton have been Fine's top two targets this season, combining for 18 catches. Fine has connected with 12 receivers.
2. Play big
North Texas has a match-up problem against Iowa. The Mean Green run a 3-4 defense, but average just 262 pounds across the front three where starting defensive ends Andy Flusche and LaDarius Hamilton weigh in at 259 and 240 pounds respectively.
Roderick Young anchors things at nose tackle, weighing in at a more Big Ten-like 287 pounds. North Texas counters that lack of size with quickness but will be challenged by the power of Iowa's offensive front and its desire to control things on the ground.
3. Ride the horse
One of North Texas' priorities this season is develop a more effective rushing attack to complement what it does through the air. Senior Jeffrey Wilson gives the Mean Green a chance to make that happen.
Wilson is a 6-foot senior who has rushed for 2,202 yards during his career and has averaged 8.5 yards per carry this season. He has carried 25 times through two games, numbers split fairly evenly between his first two games. He rushed for 176 yards in a 59-14 season-opening win over Lamar, but was held to 36 yards on 13 carries last week by SMU.
4. Embrace the challenge
Conference USA teams don't win frequently when they step onto the Big Ten stage. Iowa has a 5-1 all-time record against teams from that league, losing only a night game at Tulsa when then-coach Hayden Fry opted to fly in and fly out on the day of the game.
Sandwiched between an emotional road win at Iowa State and a highly-anticipated Big Ten opener against Penn State, the Mean Green arrive at Kinnick at a point in the schedule when Iowa may be a bit vulnerable. Their ability to hang around and take this game into the fourth quarter, much like North Dakota State did a year ago in a similar scenario, will be big.
1. Establish the run, with more than one
Akrum Wadley can run the football, but the senior who enters today's game needing three yards to become the 15th Hawkeye to run for 2,000 yards could use some help.
Iowa has averaged 3.7 yards per carry through two games, a number that includes handing off to the senior running back 52 times so far. Wadley has rushed for a team-leading 234 yards but expect the Hawkeyes to try to spread his workload around.
James Butler and redshirt freshman Toren Young are next in line on the depth chart and heading into Big Ten play, Iowa wants to add depth to its rushing attack.
With Ike Boettger now sidelined for the year with an Achilles injury, the Hawkeyes will start their sixth different offensive line combination in the last six games dating to the end of the 2016 season. Developing cohesion across the front five will be another objective in the final nonconference game of the year.
2. Somebody's got to go back and get a ... load of dimes
Couldn't help the Blazing Saddles reference -- even the G-rated version -- but the dime will be big for Iowa in dealing with the North Texas air-raid attack.
With the Mean Green frequently lining up with four receivers and no tight end, the Hawkeyes will likely take their nickel defense to the next level and play plenty of dime with six players essentially assigned to defensive back roles to cover the passing possibilities of the opponent.
Expect cornerbacks Josh Jackson, Manny Rugamba and Michael Ojemudia to be tested early and often. Their ability to deal with that will impact Iowa's chances this week.
3. Tackle somebody
It wasn't pretty. Iowa missed lots of tackles in its win at Iowa State and a return to the fundamentals has been among the Hawkeyes' priorities this week.
Just how much growth Iowa has made in that area may not be fully known until Penn State's Saquon Barkley slips into his cleats at Kinnick next week, but the Hawkeyes need and are working toward improved defensive execution as the Mean Green arrive.
4. Meet the next challenge
Nate Stanley has been tested in his first two starts as Iowa's starting quarterback. His poise and perseverance have been noteworthy for a first-year starter, dealing first with turnover issues in the opener and then with penalty problems and wild momentum swings last week at Iowa State.
There will be more and different challenges ahead for Stanley. He has been a rock in the huddle so far, according to teammates, and his ability to be steadying influence will continue to be significant.
Iowa's passing attack, which includes 11 balls caught by junior-college transfer Nick Easley through two games, has shown signs of growth. Stanley connected with nine receivers in the Iowa State game, progress that needs to be sustained in the final tune-up before conference play.