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The Hawkeye logo is seen on the 50 yard line at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019.

MIAMI (OHIO) AT IOWA

WEEK 1: 6:40 P.M., KINNICK STADIUM

TV: FS1

RADIO: WOC 1420 AM

LINE: Iowa by 21.5

SERIES: Iowa 4-0

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

A.J. Epenesa’s starting debut

He’s led the Big Ten in sacks, has been named a preseason all-American and earned first-team all-conference honors, but until now Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa has never started a college football game. That changes tonight for the dominating junior who finished with 16.5 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks a year ago.

A Hawkeye homecoming

Eligible to play for the first time since transferring from Iowa at the end of the 2017 season, Miami (Ohio) cornerbacks Manny Rugamba and Cedric Boswell return to Kinnick Stadium for the RedHawks’ opener. Rugamba, who left for the Mid-American Conference program after making four starts over two seasons at Iowa, is expected to start.

Oliver Martin’s use

Granted immediate eligibility at Iowa on Wednesday by the NCAA, the Michigan transfer is expected to bolster a Hawkeye receiving corps led by juniors Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette. The versatile Martin, who caught 11 passes last season as a redshirt freshman with the Wolverines, adds to a position group replacing its top three receivers from 2018.

Redhawks QB shuffle

With games vs. Cincinnati and Ohio State on the horizon, Miami (Ohio) coach Chuck Martin will use early-season games to find a starting quarterback among three candidates who have never attempted a pass in a college game. Sophomore Jackson Williamson, redshirt freshman AJ Mayer and freshman Brett Gabbert will likely all play.

The Hawkeyes’ legs

New starting specialists will take the field for Iowa in its opener. Arizona State graduate transfer Michael Sleep-Dalton has beaten out returning starter Colten Rastetter for the punting job, while juniors Caleb Shudak and Keith Duncan are expected to share placekicking duties after battling on even terms in fall camp. Shudak will handle kickoffs.

— Steve Batterson

STATISTICAL LEADERS

*Iowa (0-0)

PASSING;COMP;ATT;YDS;TD;INT

Nathan Stanley;235;396;2,852;26;10

RUSHING;NO;YDS;AVG;TD

Mekhi Sargent;159;745;4.7;9

Toren Young;136;637;4.7;5

Ivory Kelly-Martin;97;341;3.5;2

Ihmir Smith-Marsette;9;71;7.9;0

RECEIVING;NO;YDS;AVG;TD

Brandon Smith;28;361;12.9;2

Ihmir Smith-Marsette;23;361;15.7;3

Mekhi Sargent;17;156;9.2;1

Ivory Kelly-Martin;9;78;8.7;0

INTERCEPTIONS: Geno Stone 4, Michael Ojemudia 3, Riley Moss 2

SACKS: A.J. Epenesa 10.5, Chauncey Golston 3.5

TACKLES: Djimon Colbert 52, Kristian Welch 49, Matt Hankins 48, Nick Niemann 43, Michael Ojemudia 39, Geno Stone 39

PUNT RETURNS: A.J. Epenesa 1-16-16.0, Shaun Beyer 1-0-0.0

KICKOFF RETURNS: Ihmir Smith-Marsette 24-707-29.5, Devonte Young 3-64-21.3

* -- Returning statistical leaders from 2018

*Miami (Ohio) (0-0)

PASSING;COMP;ATT;YDS;TD;INT

No returning passers

RUSHING;NO.;YDS;AVG;TD

Maurice Thomas;61;233;3.8;1

Jaylon Bester;34;185;5.4

Davion Johnson;33;164;5.0;1

Zach Kahn;11;26;2.4;0

RECEIVING;NO;YDS;AVG;TD

Luke Mayock;22;319;14.5;3

Andrew Homer;16;231;14.4;3

Dom Robinson;13;156;12.0;4

Jaylon Bester;13;103;7.9;0

INTERCEPTIONS: Mike Brown 1, Zed Raymond 1, Jay’den Rucker-Furlow 1

SACKS: Kemon Hall 2, Tony Krasniqui 1, Sid Moore 1, Khairi Muhammad 1, T.J. Tauaalo 1

TACKLES: Khairi Muhammad 13, E.J. Ejiya 11, Kemon Hall 9, Kishawn McClain 8, Colton McDonald 7, Sid Moore 7

PUNT RETURNS: Jack Sorenson 2-4-2.0, Doug Costin 1-0-0.0

KICKOFF RETURNS: Maurice Thomas 25-667-26.7, Jaylon Bester 8-206-25.8

* -- Returning statistical leaders from 2018

MARQUEE MATCHUP

IOWA WR IHMIR SMITH-MARSETTE VS. MIAMI (OHIO) CB MANNY RUGAMBA: Facing an Iowa transfer who he used to battle regularly in practice and whose locker used to be next to his, Smith-Marsette suggested what could transpire would be like "Fight Night." Smith-Marsette caught 23 passes a year ago for 361 yards and three scores for the Hawkeyes, while Rugamba had 55 tackles and two interceptions in two years at Iowa.

BY THE NUMBERS

29.7: Iowa’s scoring average with Nate Stanley as its starting quarterback, third among Hawkeye quarterbacks who made at least 20 starts

23-4: The Hawkeyes all-time record against Mid-American Conference programs, losing only to Central Michigan in 2012, Northern Illinois in 2013 and Western Michigan in 2000 and 2007

QUOTABLE

"We’ve been beating on each other since spring ball. I think we’re all anxious to get back to Kinnick and face somebody else. Under the lights, it’s going to be a pretty big deal." — Iowa linebacker Djimon Colbert

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