The Other Sideline is a new weekly segment where the Indiana Daily Student interviews a student reporter from IU football’s weekend opponent. The questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
No. 17 IU football’s 2021 season begins Saturday with a top-20 matchup against a Big Ten opponent for the first time in program history.
No. 18 Iowa is coming off a season where it finished 6-2, its eighth consecutive winning season. IU has lost three consecutive games to Iowa dating back to 2012 and hasn’t won in Iowa City since 2007.
Ahead of the season opener, the Indiana Daily Student talked to Robert Read of the Daily Iowan to preview what the matchup may look like.
IDS: How is Iowa balancing expectations headed into this year?
Read: The big talk, especially toward the end of last season, was Iowa started off last year 0-2. Then they rattled off six straight victories to end the regular season and didn’t get to play their final two games because of COVID-19 related things with their opponent.
By the end of last season, Iowa was legitimately one of the hottest teams in the country, and head coach Kirk Ferentz and some of the players have been asked this offseason: How do you continue that hot streak and replicate the success from the end of last season? Kirk keeps hammering home that we can say we’re going to do this and this like last season, but this is a new group of guys.
This isn’t the 2020 team, it's the 2021 team. For the most part, they really do have a good chunk of starters and key contributors to last season's team back, but it’s just plugging the holes a little bit and seeing what works.
IDS: Where do Iowa’s strengths and weaknesses lie?
Read: On offense, it’s going to be the running game. Part of that is Tyler Goodson, first-team All-Big Ten running back last year in his first full season of being the main guy. That’s not to say Iowa won’t have other guys touching the ball in the backfield, but Goodson is still the pretty clear No. 1 guy.
In the first media availability this spring, a reporter was talking to him about goals for this upcoming season and it took him about half a second to say he has his eyes on the Doak Walker Award. He thinks he’s the best running back in the country and he’s looking to prove it.
Going to a defensive strength, I’ve never seen a team return five starters in the secondary, but that’s what Iowa’s doing. That should really be a strength for Iowa, and with the starters they also have tremendous depth.
IDS: What does IU have to do to beat Iowa?
Read: There was a significant difference in Iowa’s games last year when they were able to be successful rushing the ball with Goodson versus when they tried to air it out. If Iowa can establish Goodson and with the new look offensive line establish the line of scrimmage and allow junior quarterback Spencer Petras to ease into the game, that’s where you’re going to see Iowa really start to be successful on offense.
IDS: This is only the second time these teams have been ranked when they played, how is Iowa viewing the matchup?
Read: At Big Ten Media Days, IU head coach Tom Allen, in typical form, seemed very enthusiastic and said “we’re just going to play anyone that’s in front of us.”
Kirk, it’s not that he isn’t prepared or isn’t enthusiastic about playing a great team to start the season, but he’s been on record saying that Iowa isn’t always at its sharpest at the beginning of the season, even in their really good years. Iowa typically progresses as the season goes on, much like we saw last year, so it’s going to be interesting to see with elite competition at the start of the year how they battle that.
IDS: What’s your final score prediction for Saturday?
Read: I’ll go Iowa 27, IU 21.