You won't find many people on the planet who have been doing the same job for more than 20 years. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz is in that elite group. On Saturday, when the ball is kicked off at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, it will mark the start of Ferentz' 21st season at the helm of the Hawkeyes football program.
To put that in perspective, Nebraska — Iowa's neighbor to the west and division rival — has gone through five coaches in the same span. That's an amazing bit of trivia.
One of the reasons Ferentz has been able to hang around so long is his consistency. He wins the games he is supposed to win while hanging in there against or actually defeating the teams he's not expected to beat.
Long story short: He keeps everyone with a vested interest in Iowa football happy.
The Miami (Ohio) RedHawks will make their way to Iowa City hoping to upset the Hawkeyes faithful by stealing what should be an easy win for Iowa at home. It'll be a tall order, but anything can happen early on in the season when teams are still figuring out who they are.
This will be the fourth time Ferentz has faced Miami from the MAC and the second time against RedHawks head coach Chuck Martin.
Miami (Ohio) at Iowa
Kickoff: Saturday, Aug. 31 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Iowa -21.5
When Miami (Ohio) Has the Ball
Priority one will be keeping the Iowa front seven out of the backfield. Hawkeyes defensive end A.J. Epenesa is one of the best pass rushers in the nation, and he can singlehandedly take over a football game against the best teams in the country — let alone against an average MAC team. The RedHawks do have some talent and experience on the offensive line, so that's a battle to keep an eye on early.
Whoever Miami lines up at quarterback between Jackson Williamson and A.J. Mayer will target tight end Andrew Homer frequently, as the RedHawks won't want to challenge Iowa's corners deep very often. Miami wants to get the ball to wide receiver Jack Sorenson — the team's best offensive player — but that's going to be hard to do consistently. The RedHawks are going to have a tough time moving the ball on the ground, so the quarterback had better keep his arm loose.
When Iowa Has the Ball
Not that Iowa ever really gets too fancy, but I wouldn't expect too many exotic play calls and formations. The Hawkeyes are good enough to just pound the ball at Miami's defense on the ground and win this one. You may see Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley toss the ball downfield early in order to establish some in-game familiarity with what should be the most talented Hawkeyes receiving corps in quite some time.
As always, we'll also see a heavy dose of the tight end position in various formations on the field for Iowa. It's tough to imagine the Redhawks stopping Stanley and Co. on too many drives.
Iowa is expected to be one of the front-runners in the Big Ten West and a Top 25 team for most of the season. They are better than Miami (Ohio) at pretty much every position on the field, and their veteran head coach understands that. Expect very few risks by Iowa on either side of the ball en route to a sound victory before preparation for the Big Ten opener against Rutgers begins. Iowa will do everything it can to jump out early and seal the deal so the Hawkeyes can empty the bench and get the reserves some valuable reps.
Prediction: Iowa 41, Miami (Ohio) 16
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, SBNation, USA Today and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.