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College Football: Hawkeyes look to contain Allen in season opener


Game Information:  Saturday, Sept. 2- Wyoming at Iowa  11 a.m. C.T.  Big Ten Network 

IOWA CITY — The Iowa Hawkeyes will face Wyoming for just the third time in program history on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium. The last time these two teams met, the Hawkeyes prevailed 20-19 in the 1987 Holiday Bowl. Iowa is hoping it can make it three in a row against the Cowboys, but it will come down to containing one of the nation’s most-hyped quarterbacks in the nation, Josh Allen.

Allen, a Maxwell and Davey O’Brien Award preseason candidate, passed for 3,203 yards and 28 touchdowns with 15 interceptions in 2016. With so much discussion in regards to him being a top prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft, Phil Parker’s defense will be on high alert heading into Saturday’s contest.   

“If you give him a lot of time he’s going to find somebody open,   and somebody is going to be open because you can only   cover for so long.” stated head coach Kirk Ferentz. “You want  to disrupt him if possible, and preferably, like every coach,  you’d like to do it with four guys. It would be nice if you could do it with three. But the danger is if you get out of your lanes and are reckless, he’ll pull it down and run.”

Allen’s dual-threat ability is just another problem that could pose a threat for the Hawkeyes, as he rushed for 523 yards and seven touchdowns in 2016. Iowa’s front four, led by senior Nathan Bazata, needs to put pressure on Allen in the pocket if there is any chance of stopping the Cowboys’ passing attack. While the defensive line goes up against an experienced Wyoming offensive line, an inexperienced Iowa secondary can’t let up on any play early because of Allen’s ability to extend plays. Iowa’s secondary, of course, will be without starting cornerback Manny Rugamba who is serving a one-game suspension.

If a Josey Jewell led defense can fluster Allen in the pocket early and not give him any space to get yards on the ground, it’s going to be a frustrating afternoon for an offense that averaged 35.9 points per game last year. Not to mention, Craig Bohl’s squad is going to be more one-dimensional with the loss of running back Brian Hill. Hill left early for the NFL Draft after setting the program’s career rushing record with 4,287 yards.

On the other side of the ball, new Iowa starting quarterback Nathan Stanley just needs to manage the game and get production from 1,000-yard rusher Akrum Wadley and Nevada graduate transfer James Butler. Getting four starters back  up front from last season will provide a boost for the run game as well.

Prediction: Iowa 31, Wyoming 17

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