Turnover Battle Crucial Heading into Ames

Sept. 9, 2011

IOWA CITY, Iowa — If history is an indicator, the turnover battle will play a critical role in the annual Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series match-up between Iowa and Iowa State on Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.

“Turnovers throughout this series have historically been big,” said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz, who is 6-6 in 12 meetings against the Cyclones. “Anything can happen. Those old cliché things are usually pretty true in rivalry series like this one. It’s the team that plays the cleanest will probably have the best chance to win.”

Iowa has won the turnover battle by a wide margin in the three most recent victories. The Hawkeyes had three interceptions in a 35-7 win in 2010; forced six turnovers (five interceptions, one fumble) in a 35-3 victory in 2009 and had three interceptions in a 17-5 win in 2008.

Entering Saturday’s 11 a.m., game, Iowa has won six of the last eight games in the series.

“The last three years went a different route, but it wasn’t that long ago going over there we had a tough day,” said Ferentz. “We’ve had a couple tough days over there, and those aren’t much fun.”

The Hawkeyes bring a 1-0 record into the weekend, having downed Tennessee Tech, 34-7, in their season-opener last weekend inside Kinnick Stadium. Ferentz knows that Saturday will be a different test when his young football team travels across the state.

“Going up to Iowa State, it’s a big game for both teams,” said Ferentz. “It is certainly a tough place to play. It’s a place we can anticipate a lot of intensity in all areas, not only from our opponent, but from the fans. We’ve got a young football team right now that hasn’t gone on the road to encounter something like this.”

One of those players — junior quarterback James Vandenberg — will be making his fourth career start, and his second on the road. His first start came at “The Horseshoe” in Columbus, Ohio, during the 2009 season with the Big Ten Conference title on the line.

“It doesn’t get any louder or tougher than in that environment, certainly,” said Ferentz, when referring to Ohio Stadium. “When you travel to Ames, it’s like playing in the toughest places in the Big Ten from my vantage point. So at least he’s gone through it once.

“I think he’ll be OK, but we’ve got a lot of other guys that haven’t been on the road yet, and been through that, so it’s going to be interesting.”

Ferentz looks forward to the annual game against Iowa State, calling it “good for the state”.

“This is one week from border-to-border people are talking about the game,” said Ferentz. “I think it’s fantastic. We’ve got a great football state from top to bottom. I think it’s a good thing.”

Saturday’s game is set to be televised to a national audience on the FOX Sports Network with Joel Meyers, Joel Klatt and Jim Knox calling the action.