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at Iowa State 20 … Northern Iowa 19
Iowa State OT Kelechi Osemele
Iowa State OT Kelechi Osemele
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 3, 2011


Week 1 CFN Fearless Prediction - Northern Iowa at Iowa State

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 1 - UNI at Iowa State

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Sept. 3 at Iowa State 20 … Northern Iowa 19
CFN Analysis: Northern Iowa isn’t bad, but Iowa State will need to show far more and it’ll have to be far, far tighter to have any shot of staying with Iowa. Steele Jantz might have come up with the heroic late touchdown run, and he led the way with 80 yards and two scores on 20 carries, but he only completed 18-of-40 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown with three picks. Throw in the lost fumble and the eight penalties, and the Cyclones gave UNI way too many chances to stay in the game. The Cyclone run defense was too much of a problem for a team with such a great linebacking corps, and even though Jake Knott came up with 14 tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss, there weren’t enough stops at the line. Punter Kirby Van Der Kamp had a huge day averaging 51.2 yards per kick with three put inside the 20.

(AP) AMES, Iowa -- Steele Jantz squeezed into the end zone from inches away with 40 seconds left to cap a wild ending and give Iowa State a 20-19 victory over Northern Iowa on Saturday night.

Northern Iowa led 13-7 before the two teams combined for three touchdowns in the final 4:30 to keep the crowd of 54,672 -- the largest ever for an Iowa State home opener -- guessing until the end.

Jantz threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Josh Lenz on a fourth-and-10 play to put Iowa State up 14-13. But on the next play, Tirrell Rennie lofted an 80-yard touchdown pass to David Johnson to put the FCS Panthers back on top, 19-14. Johnson slipped out of the backfield, beat linebacker Jake Knott down the left sideline and caught the ball in full stride.

Jantz then took Iowa State back down the field for the game winner. His 32-yard pass to Aaron Horne put the ball at the Northern Iowa 2 and the Cyclones got it into the end zone on three straight sneaks by Jantz.

Jantz, who won the competition to replace three-year starter Austen Arnaud during preseason camp, struggled until coming up big at the end. He often threw wide of his receivers or overthrew them and was intercepted three times, but settled down when the Cyclones needed him the most.

He led drives of 61 and 60 yards for the final two touchdowns and finished 18 of 40 for 187 yards. He also ran 20 times for 80 yards and scored twice.

Until Jantz's clutch play late, Rennie had given the Cyclones fits with his running and scrambling, rushing 18 times for 127 yards. He was at his best while leading a 22-play, 90-yard drive that Johnson capped with a 1-yard run for a 13-7 lead late in the third quarter. The Panthers went 6-for-6 on third-down conversions on that march, which ran 10:36 off the clock.

Neither team did much after that until the flurry at the end.

Rennie, who last year became the first Northern Iowa player to rush for more than 1,000 yards and pass for more than 1,000 in the same season, completed 15 of 32 passes for 181 yards and no interceptions. The Panthers didn't have a turnover until Iowa State's Willie Scott grabbed an errant lateral with 21 seconds left to secure the victory for the Cyclones.

The game had more than its share of season-opening miscues and got a little chippy at times.

Both teams were flagged for multiple personal fouls and Iowa State's C.J. Morgan was ejected. Northern Iowa was flagged for 10 penalties in the first half, twice drawing three penalties on the same play, and had 16 for the game. Iowa State had eight penalties and four turnovers.

Even on their long scoring drive, the Panthers weren't always sharp. They were flagged for a false start on consecutive plays and later were called for holding, though that penalty was offset by the personal foul that resulted in Morgan's ejection.

Rennie kept that drive going with a 16-yard scramble on third-and-8 from his own 38 and third-down completions to Jarred Herring and Austin Wells. Wells' catch put the ball at the Iowa State 3 and Johnson scored three plays later, on yet another third-down snap.

Iowa State's first five possessions with Jantz under center ended with two three-and-outs, two interceptions and a fumble. The fumble, by running back Shontrelle Johnson, was the most disheartening of the turnovers, coming on the 12th play of a drive that carried the Cyclones to the Northern Iowa 24.

But the defense forced a quick three-and-out on the Panthers, Jantz took ISU down the field and he appeared to throw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Reid Branderhorst, who thought he had made a diving one-handed grab in the back of the end zone. The catch was disallowed after a review, but the Cyclones got the touchdown anyway -- with the help of four penalties on Northern Iowa, three on the same play when the Cyclones faced third-and-goal from the 15. Another UNI penalty, this one for pass interference, gave Iowa State the ball inside the 1-yard line and Jantz, with a push from running back Jeff Woody, bulled into the end zone on the final play of the half.

On the play from the 15, Northern Iowa was called for pass interference, roughing the passer and unsportsmanlike conduct.

The Panthers also were penalized three times on the same play earlier in the first half. They were flagged for jumping offsides and two personal fouls, resulting in a 35-yard walk-off that moved Iowa State to the UNI 25. After the Cyclones drove to the 9, Jantz's pass glanced of Darius Reynolds' hands and Tre'Darrius Canady picked it off for the Panthers.

Rennie hit Terrell Sinkfield with a 30-yard pass on the game's first play and the Panthers drove to the Iowa State 25 before settling for Tyler Sievertsen's 42-yard field goal. Rennie completed three passes and scrambled 9 yards for a first down during an 80-yard drive that Sievertsen finished with a 24-yard field goal, making it 6-0.

Northern Iowa (0-0) at Iowa State (0-0) Sept. 3, 7:00
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Here’s The Deal … Always an interesting in-state rivalry, UNI beat the Cyclones in 2007 and 1994, and while the record is a bit one-sided, the games are almost always intriguing.

Almost.

Last year, Iowa State rolled over the Panthers 27-0 by picking off three passes and doing a strong job defensively. However, it’s not like the Cyclone attack roared, coming up with just 117 yards on the ground and 93 in the air in a shakier win than the score might indicate. This year, UNI has a legitimate shot to pull off the upset with one of the Missouri Valley’s best-looking teams going into the season. The offense is loaded, the defense should be stout against the run, and there’s always an extra incentive to show up strong against the next door neighbor. Iowa State has Iowa next in its really big rivalry date, but if it’s looking ahead just a little bit, it could get caught napping.

With the Hawkeyes, a date at Connecticut, Texas, and road trips to Baylor and Missouri to follow, this turned out to be the breather in the bunch for Iowa State until it deals with Kansas in early November. In other words, the pressure is on to win and win big, or else it could set the tone for an ugly start to the season.

Why Northern Iowa Might Win: The offense should be a bear. It took a little while to get rolling last season, but the Panthers started to rock once quarterback Tirrell Rennie got on a roll. Arguably the best player in the MVC, he’s a dangerous runner who sparks an attack that finished ninth in the nation among FCS teams on the ground and 34th overall. Working behind a veteran offensive line that struggled in pass protection, but is great at opening up holes to fly through, Rennie could be just annoying enough to be the difference for an offense that should be fully jelled from the moment it hits the field.

Why Iowa State Might Win: Linebackers. What stops a great running quarterback? Linebackers. Rennie might be dangerous when he gets on the move, but he’s hardly Kurt Warner when it comes to slinging it around. For UNI to have any sort of a chance, Rennie and tailback Carlos Anderson have to dictate the tempo and they need to break off big runs. The problem is that linebacker is Iowa State’s strength, with Jake Knott and A.J. Klein experienced enough and savvy enough to sniff out the run and come up with tackle after tackle. The Iowa State offense might sputter a bit out of the gate, but the defense needs to make up for it. It should.

What To Watch Out For: Northern Iowa has a linebacker of its own in L.J. Fort that should put up double-digit tackles against the Iowa State ground game, but it’s defensive tackle Ben Boothby that might steal the show. Always active and always working, he came up with 15 sacks last season and 56 tackles. While his production was a bit streaky, he’ll be a load for the Cyclone line to handle. That’s where Kelechi Osemele comes in. The 6-6, 347-pound tackle might not line up one-on-one on Boothby too much, but he should neutralize the pass rush and should pound away over and over and over again as the offense works behind him. UNI won’t have an answer for the future NFL starter.

What Will Happen: With ten starters back on defense and a whale of a playmaker in Rennie, UNI will make the Cyclones fan sweat. The Iowa State offense isn’t exactly going to be smooth, but it’ll do some running of its own with RB Shontrelle Johnson poised and ready to come up with a big season. It’ll be a battle, but Iowa State will once again come away with a tough win that should take four quarters to put away.

CFN Prediction: Iowa State 26 … Northern Iowa 13
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