IOWA CITY, Iowa - Central Michigan represents the second Mid-American Conference opponent Iowa will play this season. But the Chippewas might as well be from a different planet than the Hawkeyes’ first MAC foe Northern Illinois. The Huskies have strung together back-to-back 11 win seasons. They boasted the nation’s longest win streak. It’s only flaw was losing the program’s best quarterback to the NFL.
Central Michigan on the other hand has won seven games the last two seasons. It hasn’t won consecutive games since 2009. The one thing the Chippewas can hang their hat on his at the quarterback position in Ryan Radcliff.
The senior signal caller, may not be the best in the program’s history, but he’s certainly No. 2. He is second in 10 career and single season passing marks in Chippewas history.
“The last outing for the quarterback is probably a real, you know, you can throw that one out,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I think we'll see a guy who is really confident and I'm sure he's determined to come back and really play well.”
As Ferentz pointed out, Radcliff’s last time out won’t be one remember in Central Michigan lore. Against another Big Ten foe, Michigan State, Radcliff competed 17 of 38 pass for 178 yard and no touchdowns. He did through two interceptions.
It followed up a mediocre performance to begin the season against Southeast Missouri State. Radcliff passed for 171 yards with a TD and a pick in a game that saw his offense score 38 points.
“We need him to play better,” Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos said. “We need to be more consistent and not have mental breakdowns at critical times of the game.”
Like Iowa’s quarterback, the lack of an aerial assault is surprising considering his success in the past. Radcliff entered his senior campaign with 42 touchdown passes the last two seasons. He’s also amassed more than 7,000 yards passing in his career. Both marks are second beyond Dan LeFevour.
Radcliff will get a chance to right his season’s ship against a Hawkeyes defense that he’s had two weeks to prepare for.
“We’re playing a team that's kind of unusual right now. They are coming off a bye week, can't remember many of those early in a season like this,” Ferentz said. “But they have got a bye week in their third week.”
Iowa is also in a unfamiliar situation this season, in playing a quarterback that isn’t a first year starter. The Hawkeyes have played two first-year starters under center and have went 2-0. Their only loss this season has come against an experienced QB in Iowa State’s Steele Jantz.
This time around, Iowa will look to use the information they have on tape to its advantage.
“Every week you have to expect a quarterback’s best, whether it’s a freshman or senior,” senior defensive back Micah Hyde said. “…They’re in that position for a reason. Any quarterback you play is smart. They know how to break down a defense and know how to read a defense. He’s obviously going to watch tape on us and we have to prepare of his best.”
That’s exactly what Central Michigan needs to bring.“When your playing good teams like Michigan State and Iowa we need to ask the guys, we need them not to play good, we need them to play great,” Enos said. “That’s our goal this week.”