FACTS & STATS: Site: Heinz Field (65,500) — Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Iowa 2-1, Pitt 1-0. Away Record: Iowa 0-0,
Pitt 2-0. Neutral Record: Iowa 0-0, Pitt 0-0. Conference Record: Iowa 0-0,
Pitt 1-0. Series Record: Pittsburgh leads, 3-2.
GAME NOTES: The Iowa Hawkeyes hit the road to tangle with the Pittsburgh
Panthers on Saturday afternoon in a non-conference clash at Heinz Field.
The contest will be the road opener for Iowa. After jumping out to a 2-0 start
with wins over Northern Iowa (31-23) and Ball State (17-13), the Hawkeyes
suffered a 20-17 home loss to Iowa State in the annual Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk game
last weekend. It marks the first time since 1948 that each of the Hawkeyes’
first three games were decided by one possession.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2009 and
is looking to move to 4-0 for the first time since the 2000 season. The
Panthers are back on their home turf following consecutive road wins, the most
recent of which was a 42-25 decision at FIU last Saturday. Beginning this
weekend, five of their next six games will be played at home.
Pitt holds a 3-2 lead in the all-time series, but Iowa was a 31-27 winner when
these teams last met up in Iowa City during the 2011 season. The Hawkeyes
erased a 24-3 second-half deficit in that game to complete the largest
comeback in school history.
The Hawkeyes do boast a few proven playmakers on offense, although for one
reason another the production on that side of the ball has left plenty to be
desired to this point. Iowa’s 71 first downs is tied for the second-most in
the Big Ten, but the unit ranks 89th in total offense (377.0) and 99th in
scoring (21.7). The red zone has been particularly problematic, where the
Hawkeyes are 115th in the country in terms of efficiency.
On paper, the pieces are there to produce. Quarterback Jake Rudock has thrown
for more than 3,000 yards in his career, running back Mark Weisman is closing
in on 2,000 career yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground, and wideout Kevonte
Martin-Manley ranks third in the Big Ten with 19 receptions. He needs 33
catches to break Iowa’s all-time receptions record (Derrell Johnson-Koulianos,
The defensive side of the ball is where Iowa has really shined thus far. In
fact, the team enters this tilt ranked first in the Big Ten and No. 7
nationally in rushing defense, allowing just 65.7 yards per game on the
ground. The Hawkeyes are the only Big Ten team and one of eight squads
nationally not to allow a rushing score this season. And while the Hawkeyes
offense has struggled in the red zone, the defense has allowed only one TD in
seven opponents’ trips inside the 20.
Senior linebacker Quinton Alston led the way with 10 tackles and a forced
fumble last week against Iowa State.
The Hawkeyes defense will face its toughest test to date going up against a
Pittsburgh rushing attack that ranks fifth in the country with an average of
345 yards per game. The Panthers have scored 12 rushing TDs this season, the
fourth-highest in the country.
Sophomore tailback James Connor headlines that effort, as he leads the country
in rushing touchdowns (eight) and ranks second in total rushing yards (544).
No Pitt running back has ever rushed for as many yards in the first three
games of a season, and that includes former Heisman Trophy winner and pro
football hall of famer Tony Dorsett. All told, Pitt is averaging 44.7 ppg to
rank 15th in the nation.
The Panthers are just about as stingy against the run on defense, allowing a
mere 77.3 ypg to rank ninth nationally. In fact, they are fourth in the nation
in total defense (211.0), 10th in both passing yards allowed (133.7) and pass
efficiency defense (88.08), and 16th in scoring defense (15.0). A lot of that
success has to do with the Panthers’ ability to get off the field on third
downs, as they are No. 2 in the nation in third-down percentage defense
Last week, they bottled up FIU’s ground game to the tune of 1.7 ypc, and
allowed only three third-down conversions in 14 tries. Terrish Webb has two of
the unit’s five interceptions this season, and he is second on the team with
The most intriguing matchup here is Pitt’s potent rushing attack versus what
so far has been a stingy Iowa run defense. However, the Panthers also boast a
strong run defense, and that could create problems for an Iowa offense that
relies on its ground game to create balance.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Pittsburgh 27, Iowa 13