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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

No. 24 Arizona vs. No. 9 Iowa

If Arizona was looking to make a splash on the national scene, it has to look no further than this Saturday’s matchup with Iowa.

“”This is the reason you play college football,”” said receiver David Douglas. “”Big games like this, national spotlight on ESPN, it’s exciting and it can do a lot for our program and give us a lot of momentum going into conference play.””

The Hawkeyes hail from the Big Ten Conference and bring a downhill running game and a strong defensive line to Tucson in their final non-conference game of the season. For the second year in a row, the Wildcats and Hawkeyes will meet in a battle of unbeatens in the third week of the season.

“”I can’t even explain that,”” said receiver Juron Criner about what it would mean if the Wildcats defeated No. 9 Iowa. “”It would definitely set the tempo for the rest of the season and people will think twice when they hear the name Arizona.””

Iowa brings a heavyweight matchup to the desert in possibly the biggest test of the year for No. 24 Wildcats. Hosting a game between ranked opponents is something Arizona has not done since 1998.

Arizona’s high-powered offense is set up against the powerful defensive line of the Hawkeyes, anchored by senior defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who has both the speed and the size to get to the quarterback quickly.

“”Big, physical, that’s what I can summarize their (defensive line) as,”” said Arizona defensive end Ricky Elmore. “”Two hundred and ninety-pound defensive ends — that’s how big our tackles are.””

The Wildcats’ offense has put up 93 points in two games this season, but Iowa’s defense will be a much bigger test than anything it’s faced so far this season.

Arizona will have to counter Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi and its passing attack with its veteran defensive line of its own. Led by Elmore and fellow end Brooks Reed, Arizona’s defense has yet to allow a touchdown this season. They’re ranked No. 3 in total defense among FBS schools. Iowa’s defense, ranked at No. 9, isn’t far off the mark, though. The Hawkeyes have only allowed opponents into the end zone twice.

Quarterback Nick Foles’ journey to the starting job began in Iowa during Arizona’s 27-14 loss nearly a year ago to the day. The then-sophomore entered the game in the fourth quarter, but was unable to lead a comeback in Iowa City.

Arizona will have the home advantage this year and that has proven to be a huge help in recent years, as the Wildcats have won 13 of their last 16 home games. The two ranked teams will decide a tiebreaker between the all-time series, which is tied at 6-6.

“”We’ve been climbing the ladder for a long time. I think everyone knows what’s laid before us and we’ve been there a few times,”” Elmore said. “”I think everyone knows what we have to do to get there and this is another opportunity.””

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