It's a new year, scene for Arizona-Iowa

September, 18, 2010
9/18/10
9:41
PM ET
TUCSON, Ariz. -- The prevailing wisdom among the punditry is that Arizona won't be able to handle a big, physical Iowa squad, particularly the Hawkeyes' outstanding defensive line.

Maybe. Perfectly reasonable.

But they also said that about Arizona State before it visited Wisconsin, and the Sun Devils played the Badgers to a physical stalemate before losing 20-19.

Apples and oranges? Perhaps (And beware of mixing Wildcats and Sun Devils in supporting roles with each other). But it's also possible that the faster Wildcats will be another step quicker at home, and that could be trouble for the Hawkeyes.

Quick-hit passes on the perimeter from Nick Foles, one of the nation's most accurate passers (83 percent), could turn into big plays. And those big plays outside, could create inside creases for Nic Grigsby.

On the other side of the ball, Iowa's offensive line is uncertain. The Hawkeyes ranked 99th in rushing last year, and quarterback Ricky Stanzi isn't the same player on the road as he is at home.

Stop the run, make Stanzi throw into a better secondary than he's used to seeing.

Moreover, the Pac-10 likes playing the Big Ten at home. Since 1990, Pac-10 teams are 25-6-1 at home against Big Ten teams. Both teams were ranked in seven of those 32 games, and the Pac-10 team won all seven. Since 2004, the Pac-10 is 15-8 against the Big Ten (including bowls).

On the downside, three of those Pac-10 losses have been by Arizona. The Wildcats have lost seven straight against Big Ten teams, last winning in 1998 against Iowa.

It's going to be hot. It was about 106 today, and it will still be in the 90s much of the game. That could be a factor in the fourth quarter of a close game.

Iowa won last year's meeting 27-17, and it wasn't as close as that final score indicated. The Hawkeyes seemed physically superior.

But that doesn't mean we're in for a repeat. That game was pre-Foles. And it was not in front of the 'Zona Zoo on a hot night in the desert.

Ted Miller | email

College Football

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