The Hoosiers’ 300 yards per game ranks ninth.
The Hawkeyes’ 93 rushing yards allowed is seventh.
The two powers clash at noon Saturday in Iowa City, Iowa.
“They’re going to play right through people,” IU offensive coordinator Kevin Johns said. “They really squeeze down the running lanes. I think they’ll be the biggest, strongest team we’ve played to date.”
Iowa (4-1, 1-0) claims the 16th-best defense in the country, allowing just 17.2 points per game.
The Hawkeyes haven’t allowed more than 23 points in a game this season.
Offensive lineman Dan Feeney compared them to the Michigan State defense. He said they are similar to what his team saw at Missouri three weeks ago.
“They pride themselves on physicality,” he said. “We just have to keep pounding it in the fourth quarter because they’re a real good fourth-quarter team.”
Led by junior running back Tevin Coleman, who has 168 yards per game on the ground, the IU rushing attack has accounted for 17 of the team’s 22 touchdowns this season.
But IU (3-2, 0-1) also established an offensive balance last week that it had been lacking most of the season and a rhythm in the passing game that was non-existent against Maryland.
Against North Texas, junior quarterback Nate Sudfeld was 23-of-29 for 230 yards and three touchdowns. He completed passes to seven ?different receivers.
Freshman tight end Jordan Fuchs scored his first touchdown and junior tight end Anthony Corsaro made a big fourth-down conversion catch.
Corsaro said the increased involvement of tight ends wasn’t necessarily part of the plan, but the offense just works best when everyone gets the ball.
“A lot of times, the way our protection is set up in our pass game, we need those guys to pass protect,” Johns said. “It takes them out of the pass game. Where it fits we’re going to try to get them the ball.”
Johns said the Iowa defense often forces its opponents into second- and third-and-long situations and excels in third-down pass coverage.
The Hawkeyes are allowing 35 percent of third-down conversions, compared to a Hoosier offense converting 45 percent of third downs.
A constant of the IU ?offense, and a huge part of IU’s 300 rushing yards per game, has been a mature offensive line. Sudfeld has been sacked just seven times this season.
Even without left tackle Jason Spriggs, who was injured Saturday, a couple less-experienced players didn’t miss a beat, Feeney said.
“They stepped up big time,” he said. “Ralston (Evans) moving over from right tackle to left tackle, he did a great job replacing Spriggs. And then Dimitric (Camiel), a young guy coming in getting his first start, doing some big things.”
Through five games, the Hawkeye defense has allowed just three touchdowns in 12 red zone opportunities.
Johns’ solution: do what they’ve done all season.
“For us, again, it’s going to start with Tevin Coleman and trying to find ways to put the ball in his hands,” he said.