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Game Day

11/19/2014

Iowa (7-3) vs. Wisconsin (8-2)

When: Saturday, Nov. 22

Where: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City

Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. CDT

When Elvis Presley recorded “It’s Now or Never” in 1960, he wasn’t kidding. While those five words were sung in the standard “male-telling-a-female-to-make-a-choice,” fashion, it’s been adopted and used in varying contexts over the years, particularly in sports. Are you listening, Iowa Hawkeyes? Following a 30-14 win over Illinois last Saturday, the Hawks stand at the brink of potentially salvaging what has been deemed by some as an underwhelming season by a group of underachievers. Their “brink,” though, consists of Wisconsin this week and Nebraska the next. First things first — the Badgers. Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon rushed for an NCAA-record 408 yards and four touchdowns against the Cornhuskers in their meeting last Saturday, a 59-24 pasting by the Badgers to put them atop the Big Ten West with a 5-1 mark. Gordon will get plenty of carries against the Hawks, too. Wisconsin is the No. 3 rushing team in the nation. The Hawks need to stop the run first, then have its own running attack come to life. Too much to ask? Maybe. But it’s now or never.

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UNI (7-4) vs. Missouri State (4-7)

When: Saturday, Nov. 22

Where: UNI Dome, Cedar Falls

Kickoff: 4 p.m. CDT

University of Northern Iowa quarterback Brion Carnes threw for two touchdowns, and running back David Johnson ran for two more as UNI extended its win streak to four games with a 40-21 victory over Southern Illinois on Saturday. The Panthers are third in the Missouri Valley Conference standings with a 5-2 mark in league play, trailing North Dakota State (6-1) and Illinois State (6-1) — teams they have also beaten in November — by a game. Next up is Missouri State, with a 1-6 record in league play and losers of four straight and six of its last seven. In its last home game of the regular season with playoff implications in tow, there’s simply too much at stake to suffer a lapse. Fear not. This one will be a blowout.

Iowa State (2-7) vs. Texas Tech (3-7)

When: Saturday, Nov. 22

Where: Jack Trice Stadium, Ames

Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. CDT

(Note: In full disclosure, this game was previewed in last week’s edition of Game Day, an error by yours truly. I blame it on my trembling fingers, which, like the rest of me, were giddy with anticipation for this matchup between teams with a combined 1-12 record in league play.) On the heels of Iowa State’s 34-14 loss to Kansas two weekends ago, the biggest questions that remain are these: How much leeway does Paul Rhoads have, exactly? And when does basketball season start? For all intents and purposes, the loss to the Jayhawks ended a Cyclone season that has been wrought with disappointment. Wait, there are three games left, you say? On paper, yes. In the Cyclones’ hearts, though, it looks as though that ship has sailed. Texas Tech comes to town this weekend sporting a 3-7 record, so, technically, there’s a chance for a win. Does it matter? Not really. After that, it’s two games against two ranked teams. There’s no difference between two and three wins unless it’s a tipping point in job security, and Rhoads had better hope it’s not, because at this point it is what it is: over and ugly.

Drake (6-4) vs. Stetson (5-6)

When: Saturday, Nov. 22

Where: Spec Martin Stadium, DeLand, Florida

Kickoff: 12:05 CDT

You have to hand it to the Drake University football team. Not only has the team won four of its last five, just when the Iowa winter turns, well, like most Iowa winters (cold), they have a game scheduled in Florida. Nice. Very nice. In the last regular season game of the year, Drake (6-4, 5-2 in Pioneer League play) heads south to take on Stetson (3-4 in, 5-6 overall). The Bulldogs are coming off a bye week, while Stetson was blasted by an underwhelming Moorehead State team on Saturday. Prior to that, however, they’d won three straight. This will be an entertaining, must-win game for Drake. CV

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