Iowa State and Rutgers are set to meet at 3:20 p.m. ET Friday in Yankee Stadium on ESPN. Here are three keys for Iowa State to grab another bowl win, as it did in 2009 against Minnesota.
1. Keep Rutgers' quarterbacks shuffling. Rutgers has moved Chas Dodd and Gary Nova in and out all season, and each has had pretty equal production and near identical passer ratings. Nova's had a few big games, but the rotation's been pretty unpredictable. Simply put, if these guys are still moving in and out during the game, Iowa State's defense is doing something right. If one gets comfortable, especially Nova, it could be a bad sign. We saw an inspired effort from this defense against Oklahoma State. It could use another on Friday.
2. Look to utilize Jared Barnett's legs. I mentioned it earlier, but when Barnett gets loose, Iowa State's offense is dangerous. When he tops 70 yards rushing, Iowa State is 3-0. When he was limited to 21 and 26 yards late in the season, Iowa State lost to Oklahoma convincingly and Kansas State. He's not a precise passer and is inexperienced at reading defenses. He has to be able to make plays with his feet to keep the chains moving for the Cyclones.
3. Keep Mohamed Sanu as quiet as possible. Leonard Johnson, this is your cue. The Iowa State corner is one of the most underrated in the league, and he can change that with a big game here. He'll draw the attention of NFL scouts too, who are already watching Sanu, Rutgers' big-time receiver. He's caught 109 balls this season for 1,144 yards and seven touchdowns. Those are positively Big 12-ian numbers, despite an uncertain situation at quarterback. Johnson helped limit Oklahoma's Kenny Stills (5 rec, 70 yards), Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon (10 rec, 99 yards, TD), and Kendall Wright (8 rec, 69 yards, TD) this season. Just another challenge. This won't be much harder than any of those guys.