Oct. 20, 2009
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IOWA CITY, Iowa – Bowl Championship Series chatter aside, the current week is a “quieter” one for the nationally ranked – and the sixth-ranked team in the first BCS standings of 2009 – University of Iowa football team, Kirk Ferentz told the media assembled at his weekly visit Tuesday in the Hayden Fry Football Complex.
Iowa travels to Michigan State Saturday. Kickoff inside Spartan Stadium is set for shortly after 6 p.m. Iowa time. The game will be televised live and in high definition by the Big Ten Network.
“In some ways, going on the road can be less challenging,” he said, noting that his team gets to escape distractions that are commonplace when preparing to play a game at historic Kinnick Stadium.
For example, Ferentz said the Michigan week was filled with predictable – and positive – distractions.
“It was just crazy around here. Homecoming…and we had so many (good) people in town. I think it wasn’t until we got on the bus to go up to the hotel that we had a chance to think about what was in front of us. So this is kind of a quieter week.”
Interestingly, Ferentz said the later than normal start for the victory over the Wolverines (7 p.m. for ABC-TV) provided the team an opportunity to put the distractions completely behind them and focus on the task at hand. They’ll have the same opportunity this week as Iowa plays its third and final prime-time game of the regular season.
You have to pardon Ferentz if he’s beginning to sound like a broken record, but, from his vantage point, this week’s game looks a lot like last week’s game which looked a lot like the games at Penn State and Iowa State in September.
“Another very tough opponent in another very tough environment. They’re also playing well,” Ferentz said of the Spartans, who have won three in a row and are looking every bit like the Big Ten Conference title contender many thought they’d be during the preseason.
“I don’t see this one being significantly different than the previous games. It will be very, very competitive.”
Iowa owns a 20-18-2 lead in the all-time series with the Spartans. However, Iowa has been on the short end of the stick in its last five visits to East Lansing, a streak that includes a 16-13 loss last year, The Hawkeyes’ last victory at MSU came in 1995 by a 21-7 score.
Asked whether his team’s victories on the road to date have helped to build confidence Ferentz said, of course. Winning on the road and winning close ones are extremely helpful.
“Those are positives. We try to accentuate the positive anytime we get a chance. It won’t be any easier this week, but it won’t be any tougher than at Wisconsin or at Penn State or at Iowa State for that matter,” he said.
About the BCS? Ferentz said it’s good for college football.
“Somebody told me there was a three-hour program about the BCS on Sunday night. I can’t imagine anyone watching that one start to finish, but, if you did, that’s good for you,” he smiled.
“It’s good for the game. It’s a positive thing. We weren’t in the talk last year, but I had half an ear out there listening. A lot of good discourse and a lot of good arguments about the Big 12 (Conference) in particular. Again, the talk…it’s good for the game.”
“Another very tough opponent in another very tough environment. ”
Kirk Ferentz on Iowa’s game Saturday at Michigan State
And, what does it mean to the Hawkeyes? Not much. Or, at best, talk to Ferentz in a month or so.
“It’s October 20th, so I’m not too worried about that stuff right now. We have half of our conference games left to play. Our focus today is on contending for the `Michigan State Championship,’ ” he said.
“We have such a long road ahead of us right now. It’s natural for people to talk about it and think about it, but the best way for us to get anywhere is just to try to take care of this week. That’s about all we can handle right now.”
Ferentz is confident,however, his team can handle the hoopla.
“We have a fairly veteran football team. So that’s a starting point. We about about these things year-round and about how you’re going to handle praise, how you’re going to handle adversity or challenges. The message is usually better received by the veteran guys and those guys can be a little bit more vigilant in terms of keeping everybody on the right page.”
He also said without a moment’s hesitation that there’s plenty of room for improvement. The 2009 Hawkeyes may be 7-0 but there’s still much to be “cleaned up.”
“We can just look at last week’s film. There’s plenty off that thing to correct.”