GAME 4: HIGH POINT SOLUTIONS STADIUM, 11 A.M.
IOWA AT RUTGERS
RADIO: WOC 1420 AM
LINE: Iowa by 13
SERIES: First meeting
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
Grant’s whereabouts: Iowa will need to keep an eye on Janarion Grant whenever he is on the field. The senior wide receiver is Rutgers’ leading receiver, its second-leading rusher and last week he completed his first pass of the season for a 21-yard touchdown. He also leads the Big Ten with an average of 32.5 yards on kick returns and averages 16 yards on punt returns, returning one of each this season for a touchdown.
Iowa’s pass protection: The expected return of James Daniels at center and Sean Welsh at right guard from injuries should strengthen an Iowa offensive line which has been among several reasons quarterback C.J. Beathard has been susceptible to sacks so far this season. Opponents have sacked Hawkeye quarterbacks nine times through three games, impacting the team’s 41-percent completion rate on third down.
Chris Laviano’s consistency: Steady quarterback play has been an issue for Rutgers, which has had five players take snaps during its 2-1 start. Returning starter Chris Laviano is a pro-style quarterback attempting to run Chris Ash’s first-year spread offense. That hasn’t translated into consistent play behind center yet, with Laviano completing just 51.7 percent of his 89 passes.
Iowa’s ground game: After a solid start to the season, the Hawkeyes’ rushing attack nearly ground to a halt last week against North Dakota State, averaging 1.4 yards per carry. Iowa currently ranks 12th in the Big Ten in rushing, averaging 148 yards per game, while Rutgers is 13th in league in defending the run, allowing 178 yards per game. Akrum Wadley, dealing with a knee bruise the past few weeks, is expected to be closer to full speed this week.
Ben Niemann’s follow up: With his father Jay on the other sideline as the defensive coordinator at Rutgers, Iowa outside linebacker Ben Niemann will try to build on the most productive game of his career. He shared the team lead with a career-high 11 tackles last week against North Dakota State. The junior leads the team for the season with 23 stops, including 1.5 for a loss.
— Steve Batterson
INTERCEPTIONS: Ben Niemann 1, Brandon Snyder 1
SACKS: Anthony Nelson 3.5, Jaleel Johnson 2.5, Matt Nelson 2
TACKLES: Ben Niemann 23, Bo Bower 22, Josey Jewell 21, Greg Mabin 18, Nathan Bazata 16
PUNT RETURNS: Desmond King 4-35-8.8-0
KICKOFF RETURNS: Desmond King 6-155-27.5-0
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INTERCEPTIONS: K.J. Gary 1, Isaiah Wharton 1, Anthony Cioffi 1
SACKS: Julian Pinnix-Odrick 3.5, Kevin Wilkins 1.5
TACKLES: Julian Pinnix-Odrick 20, Anthony Cioffi 15, Kly Hester 15, Blessaun Austin 14, Greg Jones 14
PUNT RETURNS: Janarion Grant 7-112-16.0-1
KICKOFF RETURNS: Janarion Grant 6-195-32.5-1
Rutgers WR Janarion Grant VS. Iowa CB Greg Mabin: The Hawkeyes will be keeping an eye on Grant all day. The 5-foot-10 senior not only leads the Scarlet Knights with 15 receptions, he also threw a halfback pass for a 21-yard touchdown last week against New Mexico and has returned both kicks and punts for touchdowns this season. His five career kickoff returns for scores shares a Big Ten record. Mabin leads Iowa with three pass breakups and is the top tackler among defensive backs with 18 stops.
BY THE NUMBERS
Iowa and Rutgers are among 23 teams to score on every trip into the red zone this season, with the Hawkeyes 12-for-12 on drives including snaps inside the opponents’ 20 and Rutgers 8-for-8.
Ongoing road game win streak by Iowa, its longest since winning six straight during the 2002-03 seasons
Number of seasons Rutgers has fielded a football team, the oldest program in the nation
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“We’ve put our energies this week into getting ready for Rutgers. We have to be ready to go out and there and play Iowa football. It’s the start of the Big Ten season and we have to be ready for every game from here on out. They have a lot of good skill players, good receivers, a good running back, and getting ready for that is what we’re doing this week. We want to get off to a 1-0 start in the Big Ten.’’ — Iowa defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson