TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 30: Fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes pose for a photo as they tailgate before the Insight Bowl against the Oklahoma Sooners at Sun Devil Stadium on December 30, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Steve Nitz wrote a great article talking about the significance of having the longest current winning streak in the nation. It's a very important thing to have if you want to make some noise while still being a mid-major. I'm pretty sure Boise had a streak like this and a lot of eyes definitely got pointed at them as they continued dominance in a conference like the WAC, who quite frankly doesn't get a lot of air time.
The game this weekend is extremely valuable for the Huskies. Coach Doeren seems confident with how camp went. That is, except for this quote:
"I think we learned [that] our defense picked up where they left off [last year]," Doeren said. "I think you know what your problems are, you know what your strengths are, but you need to play a little bit to find that out for sure. We just have to get out there and play a little football and see what our problems are."
Now let's get this straight, Iowa is not a preseason game for the Huskies. They are looking to win this one at any cost. What Doeren is saying though is that this team is not going to reach its potential right away. If you need a reminder of how this team is going to look, just look back on last season. With most of the defense being new or just bad, the Huskies gave up 49 points and lost to Kansas. They failed to show up in the Wisconsin game. That is more of a sign of inexperience more than anything else.
This is a coach with a second year of systems set in place. Sure there are a ton of new faces on offense, including an entirely new starting offensive line. And of course new QB Jordan Lynch who we hope can hold a torch up to Chandler Harnish of last year. These guys have been groomed, but it will take some real game experience to know what we have.
It sounds like Coach D is bullish on the offensive line, which sounds pretty good. Early on, we'll have to find some playmakers. We know all about Martel Moore and Perez Ashford and the numerous other young talents on the receiving corps. That's nothing to worry about. Not to mention we have a running back for virtually every situation and hopefully one of those guys is going to finally have a breakout year. You just never know, especially with this line.
The defense is stacked this year. Plain and simple, they will have to pull us out of any ugly situations early on in the season. I'm very confident that these guys can line up with anybody out there, being strong at every position except MLB. With Butler off the team, I'm hearing former longsnapper Boomer Mays may be taking the starting spot.
Iowa is not going to be a pretty game by any means but it gives the Huskies a chance to prove themselves against a solid Big 10 power on the huge stage that is Soldier Field.
NIU was flat out embarrassed last year by Wisconsin and I am sure they will not let something like that happen again this year against the Hawkeyes. Iowa is not a top-10 team by any means. They have new coordinators on both sides of the ball, a very iffy defense and can't keep a healthy running back to save their life.
This will be a game where whoever makes less mistakes and gets a turnover or two wins.
Let's hope it's the Cardinal and Black that come out on top.