Have you heard enough about Iowa yet? No? Alright, then. How about one more breakdown before we kick this thing off Saturday night.
There sees to be a general consensus among writers/analysts/odds-makers/bloggers that this is going to be a close game. In order for Arizona to ensure that happens, here are three keys to the game for the Wildcats:
- Strike early. The Zona Zoo will be rocking tonight. If Arizona can light up the scoreboard early, the crowd will stay in a frenzy. Also, strategically, getting up early will force Iowa to throw the ball a little more, and run the ball a little less. If that happens, Arizona's defensive end duo of Reed and Elmore can pin their ears back and go after Ricky Stanzi and his back-tat.
Control the clock. Establish enough of a running game to sustain long drives, and keep the Iowa defense on the field. This is not Citadel. It will be much more difficult to get the running game going. However, make no mistake, this game will be won behind Foles' right arm. The rushing attack just needs be viable enough to unleash Foles and Air Zona.
- Create turnovers. Put the pressure on Stanzi, and make him turn the ball over. Arizona's defense must maintain discipline, fly to the ball, and be opportunistic when the ball is in the air. Stanzi is somewhat infamous for his inaccuracy and proclivity for throwing interceptions. Add to that perception tonight.
When Iowa has the ball: Adam Robinson and Jewell Hampton will be the focal point, but do not forget about their tight end Allen Reisner (#82) and wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (#15). The rushing attack gets a lot of the attention, but if Stanzi can put the ball where he needs to, Reisner and Koulianos will need to be accounted for. Iowa's offensive line has played well so far this year, but has yet to play a defensive line like Arizona. That looks to be one of the best, and most under-rated matchups of the evening.
When Arizona has the ball: Have you heard that Iowa has a decent defensive line? Me neither. Clayborn (#94), Klug (#95), Ballard (#46), and Binns (#91) are all supremely talented. Clayborn was the MVP of the Orange Bowl last season, and all four have been a thorn in the side of offensive lines and quarterbacks. Safety Tyler Sash (#9) anchors the back-end of the Iowa defense. Sash has 11 career picks, and will be prowling the middle of the field all night long. Nick Foles will need be aware of where Sash is on the field, to keep that number from climbing to 12 (or higher).