Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley put together a masterful effort in a stunning 44-41 overtime win over rival Iowa State last week, but the Hawkeyes didn’t escape the game unscathed as they prepare for a home date with North Texas on Saturday. Iowa will need to replace its starting right tackle after losing Ike Boettger for the remainder of the season after he suffered an Achilles injury in the win over the Cyclones.
Boettger’s loss not only puts a damper on one of the most satisfying program wins in some time, it also forces Iowa to rearrange an offensive line that has helped Stanley and the Hawkeyes average 34 points over their first two games. Stanley was sublime in last week’s OT triumph, throwing for 333 yards and five TDs - the last, a 5-yard strike to Ihmir Smith-Marsette that ended things after the Cyclones had settled for a field goal on the opening possession in extra time. Stanley’s eight touchdowns rank third in the nation entering the week, and he should add to that total against a visiting Mean Green defensive unit that coughed up 54 points last week in a loss to SMU. North Texas racked up nearly 500 yards of offense but was undone by three turnovers
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2. LINE: Iowa -21.5
ABOUT NORTH TEXAS (1-1): The Mean Green can go back and forth with the best of them: their 45.5-points-per-game scoring average ranks them in the top 15 nationally, and they sit in the top 25 overall in both passing yards (328) and rushing yards (252.5) per game. Sophomore quarterback Mason Fine has six TD passes against just two interceptions, and rolled up a career-best 424 passing yards in defeat last weekend. Jeffery Wilson has been the other offensive star for North Texas, rushing for 212 yards and four touchdowns; he had 176 yards and three TDs in the first half alone as North Texas crushed Lamar 59-14 in its opener.
ABOUT IOWA (2-0): Stanley’s effort last week landed him on the short list for the Davey O’Brien “Great 8” Award, but a repeat might be a tall task with Boettger on the shelf. Right guard Sean Welsh, who has 37 career starts under his belt, is expected to move to right tackle in Boettger’s place, with additional line shuffling on the way. While receiver Nick Easley (11 receptions, 125 yards, two TDs) has been Stanley’s primary target, he has spread the scoring around in the early going; five different receivers have at least one touchdown, while three - Easley, Noah Fant and Smith-Marsette - are tied for the team lead with two apiece.
1. Iowa is 5-1 all-time against members of Conference USA, including a 62-16 rout of North Texas in their only previous meeting in 2015.
2. The Hawkeyes had four scoring drives against Iowa State that measured at least 89 yards.
3. North Texas allowed 21 points off turnovers against SMU while allowing more than 200 yards on third downs alone.
PREDICTION: Iowa 42, North Texas 24