IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa has big plans for this season and getting off to a strong start in Big Ten play is of paramount importance. The 19th-ranked Hawkeyes will try to get started on a Big Ten West title when they open conference play by hosting Rutgers on Saturday.
TV: Noon ET, Fox Sports 1. LINE: Iowa -20
Iowa got off to a slow start in the season opener against Miami (Ohio) last week before finding its form in the second half and breezing to a 38-14 victory, and coach Kirk Ferentz expects his team to take some time feeling out its next opponent as well. "It is much like a first game," Ferentz told the school's athletic website. "At least we have one game of film (on Rutgers) and will at least see where their guys are going to line up. Early-season football is a little tricky that way." The Scarlet Knights won their season opener in 2018 but dropped their next 11 games and are hoping to avoid a similar fate after knocking off Massachusetts 48-21 in the 2019 opener last week. "The No. 1 thing is we did what we needed to do and that was get a win," Rutgers coach Chris Ash told reporters. "We played a lot of guys. We stayed healthy. We found out a lot about our team."
ABOUT RUTGERS (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
The Scarlet Knights piled up 554 yards of total offense against Massachusetts and leaned on running back Isaih Pacheco, who responded with 156 yards on 20 carries and four touchdowns - one more score than he managed in his entire 2018 freshman campaign. "The course is just working hard for these last 364 days," Pacheco told reporters. "It was expected. Just going out there every day, working hard. It's going to show, it's going to pay off, and that's where we cash in." Pacheco helped Rutgers overcome an uneven performance from quarterback McLane Carter, who threw for 340 yards and a pair of scores but was also intercepted three times.
ABOUT IOWA (1-0, 0-0)
The Hawkeyes expected senior quarterback Nate Stanley to carry the offense, and he did his part with 252 yards and three touchdown passes last week, but the production from running back Mekhi Sargent was a pleasant surprise. The 5-9 junior ran for 91 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown and added four catches for 65 yards. "It's just experience," Ferentz told reporters of Sargent. "You can see he's a lot more confident out there, and he made some big, nice plays. He's a great young guy who works hard. He has found his rhythm."
1. Iowa LT Alaric Jackson (knee) is not expected to play Saturday and could miss several games.
2. Rutgers K Justin Davidovicz is 8-for-8 in his career on field goal attempts inside 40 yards.
3. The Hawkeyes took the lone previous meeting 14-7 at the Scarlet Knights in 2016.
PREDICTION: Iowa 38, Rutgers 13