In preparation of the Pinstripe Bowl we got the chance to talk to SBNation Iowa Community Blog Black Heart Gold Pants. They broke down this upcoming matchup, and gave some great insight into the Big Ten foe. Check out their site for all things Iowa.
BCI: Steve Addazio talked about this being another smash mouthed football game. BC fans know Iowa from National games, but what stuck out to me was the balance on offense. What is the offensive scheme like for the Hawkeyes?
BHGP: Kirk Ferentz has been at Iowa for 19 years, and he's stayed true to running the ball down the throat of opposing defenses throughout his tenure. While Iowa has put the ball in the air more often in 2017, their identity is still that of a run-first, zone-blocking football team. The biggest issue with the offense this season has been that the ground game just hasn't been there in a whole bunch of games this season (.8 YPC vs. MSU, 1.0 YPC vs. WISC, 2.2 vs. Purdue, etc.), which has forced Iowa to air it out a bit more to be successful, but there hasn't been a willingness to take advantage of stacked boxes.
You can expect one of two things from this iteration of the Iowa offense - the first is that the Hawkeyes are successful running the ball and is able to use that success to open up the passing game. They might even pass the ball early to open up the running game! Easy enough, right? The second is that Jim Reid, who knows this Iowa offense better than many after spending time as a Ferentz assistant (and EVERYONE knows this often predictable Iowa offense), stacks the box against the run, Iowa refuses to change up the play-calling, and the offense turtles for the entirety of the game, running stretch plays to the short side of the field while every Iowa fan begs for mercy.
BCI: Josh Jackson and Josey Jewell look NFL ready. How are they game changers?
BHGP: These two are the heart and soul of this defense and were two of the best players in the country at their respective positions, if not the best (lookin' at you, Thorpe and Butkus award voters). Jewell hasn't been a surprise for Iowa fans, as 2017 was the third consecutive season in which he racked up over 120 tackles, but he reached a whole new level this season, garnering 121 tackles, 13.5 TFL, five sacks, and two interceptions. His instincts are definitely what will get him picked up by an NFL team in the draft, but he's also a high motor guy. Take this play as an example - Jewell (#43) goes out in coverage to the far sideline with the running back, then winds up all the way across the field to make the sack. There aren't a lot of guys in the country who make that play, but Jewell's one of them.
While Jewell has been a known commodity, Josh Jackson burst onto the scene in 2017 after a couple fairly average years as the team's nickel corner. With the graduation of last year's starting corners Greg Mabin and Desmond King, he was given an opportunity as the first-stringer and he's exceeded all expectations, leading the nation in passes defended (18) and tied for most interceptions (seven). He's a large corner standing at 6'2", but the way he's table to get around and get his hands on the ball is uncanny. He's a junior, but he's just about a consensus first-rounder by NFL Draft experts and you'll get a good idea why if BC throws his way on Wednesday.
BCI: What did the win over Ohio State do for Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa football program?
BHGP: It raised expectations infinitely, as fans got to witness one of the best wins in program history over an Ohio State team that Iowa had only beaten once since 1992. The offense clicked on all phases, the defense ripped J.T. Barrett apart, and the special teams did their job over a top five team for the second consecutive year in Kinnick Stadium, further extending the legend of Iowa crushing dreams at home. I'm sure it also impressed some of the many recruits in attendance!
While I'd like to say that this win did much else for the program, I'd be lying - people genuinely questioned whether Iowa would lose for the remainder of the season. The Hawks totaled 66 yards of total offense the following week against Wisconsin and lost to 4-6 Purdue the following week. It was a great win though!
BCI: BC fans are fired up for this game. How are Iowa fans feeling about it?
BHGP: You might've noticed that the nature of some of my previous responses sound pretty jaded, and that's because Iowa fans are not thrilled at the thought of playing in the Pinstripe Bowl. Me? I couldn't care less where Iowa plays, and I think that's the consensus for most Iowa fans more times than often, but the way the season went doesn't have many people pumped up for a bowl against a team that also went 7-5. The Hawkeyes had two unanimous All-Americans in Jewell and Jackson and a ton of playmakers on both sides of the ball, but the offense couldn't stop getting in its own way and people are beyond frustrated. That, paired with Iowa's winless streak in bowls dating back to 2010 and some Ferentz fatigue, has people pretty disinterested. By last check, Iowa had sold just over a thousand seats from their reserved ticket allotment, so you can expect a pro-BC crowd in New York come game day.
BCI: Prediction time. What have you got?
BHGP: I have enough faith in the defense and it's likely to hinge on which Iowa offense shows up. Will we see the one that stays balanced and makes teams respect the passing game, or will we see the one that's content running the ball into stacked boxes? As much as I'd like to see a squad loaded with key seniors win their first bowl game, I unfortunately think that we're more likely to see a predicable Iowa offense in this one. Give me Boston College, 24-10.