CSU Rams vs. Iowa football: 4 things to know, key matchups and predictions – The Denver Post

CSU Rams vs. Iowa football: 4 things to know, key matchups and predictions – The Denver Post

September 24, 2021

Colorado State (1-2) at No. 5 Iowa (3-0)

1:30 p.m. Saturday, at Kinnick Stadium (Iowa City)

TV/Radio: FS1/1430 AM, 98.1 FM

Line: Iowa -23.5

Weather: 10% chance of thunderstorms, 73 degrees

What to know

Positive momentum. The misery of two awful loses to begin the year got wiped away last week in CSU’s stunning upset victory at Toledo. It wasn’t pretty (zero offensive touchdowns) but the Rams, as 14.5-point underdogs, showcased impressive resiliency and a dominant defense. CSU held Toledo’s offense to just 0.5 yards per rush (28 carries for 13 yards). The Rams compiled seven sacks. CSU should have a newfound confidence that its defense can actually win games this year.

David vs. Goliath. CSU enters another matchup this week as significant underdogs against the talented Hawkeyes. Iowa is riding a nine-game winning streak dating back to last year and it has already beaten two ranked opponents this season: No. 17 Indiana and No. 9 Iowa State. The Hawkeyes’ defense is currently second in the nation with six interceptions over their first three games. Starting quarterback Spencer Petras hasn’t thrown a pick this year. Iowa is a team with real College Football Playoff aspirations.

Do the wave. The in-game atmosphere at Kinnick Stadium ranks among the best in all of college football with 60,000-plus expected in attendance Saturday. Pay attention at the end of the first quarter when the entire crowd all turns at once to wave at the tall building behind the east stands. They’re acknowledging patients on the top floors of a nearby Children’s Hospital. The heartwarming tradition dates back to 2017 and should be celebrated by college football fans everywhere.

Help on the way. CSU’s Week 3 victory over Toledo was more impressive when you consider the Rams were shorthanded with targeting ejections and multiple injuries to key players. But coach Steve Addazio told reporters this week that junior starting defensive back Tywan Francis is “probable” after missing last week. It’s also possible that star sophomore wide receiver Dante Wright returns from injury. CSU is missing a downfield passing threat from its offense. The Rams need all the help they can get against Iowa.

Key Matchups

CSU punter Ryan Stonehouse vs. Iowa return unit. Stonehouse is arguably the nation’s top punter. His ability to flip the field and force the Hawkeyes to move 80 or 90 yards for touchdowns will be essential to CSU hanging in the game. The Rams will get hammered if Iowa’s offense has a short field to the end zone all day.

CSU front seven vs. Iowa offense. We finally witnessed the potential of CSU’s talented defense against Toledo. It now must prove that performance wasn’t an aberration. Look for defensive lineman Scott Patchan to potentially have a breakout game on Saturday against the Hawkeyes.

Predictions

Kyle Fredrickson, sports reporter: Iowa 35, CSU 10

It’s difficult to imagine the Rams scoring many points. But their defense is good enough to prevent an embarrasing blowout.

Sean Keeler, sports columnist: Iowa 31, CSU 13

Two lifetime offensive-line-gurus-turned-head-coaches are calling the shots, so prepare yourself accordingly. The Hawkeyes have a short week to get ready for a trip to Maryland (3-0), followed by a visit from Penn State (3-0), so this a tune-up for a Big Ten roster with CFP aspirations.

Matt Schubert, deputy sports editor: Iowa 30, CSU 10

Even a good CSU team would have trouble with a visit to Iowa City to take on this Hawkeyes team. Hard to see how the Rams generate offense in this one.

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