IOWA CITY – Iowa got an extra week off after pulling out a road victory at rival Iowa State in Week 3 and gets one more non-conference matchup before diving head-first into Big Ten play. The 14th-ranked Hawkeyes will try to finish off their non-conference slate unbeaten when they host Middle Tennessee on Saturday.
TV: Noon, ET, ESPN 2. LINE: Iowa -24
Iowa started the season with two convincing wins before battling to the finish and grabbing an 18-17 victory at Iowa State for the first road win of the season. The Hawkeyes, who sandwiched a 30-0 victory over Big Ten foe Rutgers in between a pair of non-conference wins, spent the bye week on self-assessment while looking for ways to improve. "Obviously, we're 3-0," offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz told reporters. "It's best we could do after three weeks but as we look at the tape, and certainly it's been an ongoing process, but getting a chance to take a look at all three weeks together, I really think there's a lot of room for improvement and a lot of things that we need to clean up and do a lot better as we move forward. Pleased with where we are at." The Blue Raiders are not having much luck against Power Five schools this season with losses at Michigan and against Duke by a combined 42 points.
ABOUT MIDDLE TENNESSEE (1-2)
The Blue Raiders, who sandwiched a 45-26 victory over Tennessee State around their two Power Five losses, are coming off a bye week as well and spent the extra time patching some holes on defense. "Really, we just worked on ourselves," safety Jovante Moffatt told reporters. "As far as the Duke game, they came out throwing the ball pretty well, the quarterback did well, and he hit a lot of spots and got the ball out quick. Going into this week, we imagine it will be a lot more downhill running until we can stop the run. They're going to run on us till we show that we can stop it." Middle Tennessee allowed Duke quarterback Quentin Harris to complete 24-of-27 passes for 237 yards and four touchdowns in the 41-18 setback.
ABOUT IOWA (3-0)
Hawkeyes quarterback Nate Stanley could not find a score through the air at Iowa State after throwing a trio of touchdown passes in each of the first two contests, but head coach Kirk Ferentz still lauded his quarterback's performance. "That's three good performances in a row (for Stanley)," Ferentz told reporters after watching Stanley throw for 201 yards and put the team in position for the go-ahead field goal with a strong drive in the fourth quarter. "That ball after the intentional grounding was a heck of a throw, the best I have seen him throw. I am glad he's our quarterback." Stanley is forming a solid partnership with wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette, who leads the team with 194 yards and three touchdowns.
1. Stanley is enjoying a streak of 111 consecutive pass attempts without an interception.
2. Iowa is 12th in the nation in total defense, yielding an average of 262.7 yards.
3. The Hawkeyes have won their last 10 games against non-conference opponents.
PREDICTION: Iowa 45, Middle Tennessee 13