IOWA CITY, Iowa — North Texas will always have a special place in the hearts of Iowa Hawkeyes fans.
In 1978, Hayden Fry left North Texas State as coach and athletic director and headed north to Iowa. It was a moment that changed the program, the state and the Big Ten forever.
Fry won 143 games and three Big Ten titles and launched Iowa from one of the nation’s worst programs into an annual Big Ten contender. Fry ended the 13-year Rose Bowl stranglehold by Michigan and Ohio State. All of that is because he left Denton, Texas, and came north to Iowa City. It’s all in the history books.
Saturday, the Hawkeyes and Mean Green battle for the second time in their history. Iowa won the first meeting 62-16 in 2015. Coach Fry won’t be there today, but whenever North Texas is mentioned causally, older Iowa fans instantly recall Fry. It’s one of the most important athletic figures in campus history.
Iowa-North Texas game time, details
- Time: 2:30 p.m. CT kickoff
- Date: Saturday, Sept. 16
- Location: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, Iowa
- Weather: 89 degrees with potential rain at kickoff
- The line: Iowa, minus-21.5
What TV channel is showing Iowa-North Texas?
ESPN2 televises the second meeting between the Hawkeyes and Mean Green.
Heading into Week 3 of the season – these three QBs are tied with the most touchdown passes on deep throws (20+ yards downfield). pic.twitter.com/7Wqji0mzPA
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) September 13, 2017
How can I watch Iowa-North Texas online?
WatchESPN and the WatchESPN app will provide live streaming of the game. Click here for more information.
How can I listen to Iowa-North Texas on the radio?
You can listen on Sirius 135/XM channel 195. For Iowa action, 600 AM (WMT-Cedar Rapids), 1040 AM (WHO-Des Moines) and 800 AM (KXIC-Iowa City) are the flagship radio stations. Gary Dolphin is the play-by-play broadcaster with Ed Podolak as the color analyst and Rob Brooks as the sideline reporter. Click here for other Iowa radio affiliates.
For the Mean Green point of view, Dave Barnett and Hank Dickenson call the action on 95.3 FM (KHYI-north Dallas), 88.1 FM (KNTU-Denton) and 1580 AM (KGAF-Gainesville). The TuneIn app provides radio coverage.
Who is calling the game for ESPN2?
Anish Shroff handles the play-by-play, Ahmad Brooks provides the color and Roddy Jones adds flavor as the sideline reporter.
— The Iowa Hawkeyes (@TheIowaHawkeyes) September 13, 2017
Iowa-North Texas preview
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Vegas has this as a mismatch, with Iowa as a 3-touchdown favorite. But Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz doesn’t want to hear any of that. He’s focused on rapid improvement after a disappointing defensive effort against Iowa State.
The Hawkeyes prevailed last week 44-41 in overtime at Iowa State, but the defense gave up 467 yards. That’s double the output of what Wyoming gained (233) in the season opener. Yes, Iowa State has some tremendous skill position players and a talented quarterback, but the statistics, the lack of communication and fatigue were signs Iowa needs to improve quickly.
“Being 2-0 is good, but it really doesn’t mean anything if we’re not improving this week,” Ferentz said. “If we want to be playing for games that count in the conference in November, we need to be improving right now. So that’s kind of what’s on our plate at this point.”
This week, the Hawkeyes welcome North Texas (1-1) in the second of a two-game deal created in 2009. The teams played in 2015, when Iowa won 62-16. This version of the Mean Green appears much better and certainly more dynamic. In two games, North Texas has averaged 580.5 yards, which ranked ninth in Division I. In the opener, a 59-14 win against Lamar, the Mean Green piled up a school-record 668 yards of total offense. Last week, a 54-32 loss to SMU, North Texas still rolled for 493 yards.
Spearheading the North Texas offense is sophomore quarterback Mason Fine, who passed for 424 yards against SMU. Fine has 6 touchdowns and 648 passing yards in two games. North Texas’ tempo is quick and the offense has fast athletes at the skill positions. That has enabled Fine to excel early this season.
“He makes good decisions,” Ferentz said. “He’s fast, efficient, he’ll run the ball, throws it where it needs to go. He gets it there quickly. So, if you leave somebody open, he’s going to find that guy and get the ball there pretty effectively. So it’s going to be a big challenge for us.”
Offensively, the Hawkeyes gained nearly 500 yards against the Cyclones. Quarterback Nate Stanley, the co-Big Ten offensive player of the week, passed for 333 yards, 5 touchdowns and no interceptions in that game. He also directed 4 touchdown drives of at least 89 yards.
Iowa running back Akrum Wadley has become one of the nation’s most potent all-purpose threats. He ranks second in the Big Ten and fourth nationally in all-purpose yards with 203 a game. Last week, he tied the score late in the fourth quarter with a 46-yard catch and run in which he had to run over one player and drag another over the goal line.
“I can just hear the coaches in my ear, finish runs,” Wadley said. “Vertical and violent. Coach [Chris] Doyle always talks about that. Just be a finisher, that’s what coach Brian [Ferentz] is always talking about. Finish.”
The Hawkeyes next face Penn State at 6:30 p.m. CT Sept. 23 at Kinnick Stadium in both teams’ Big Ten openers.