Oct. 26, 2010
- Iowa Football Game Day Central
- Cast Your O’Brien Quarterback Award
- Vote for R. Stanzi as a Premier Player
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Last season the University of Iowa football team defeated Michigan State, 15-13, with a touchdown on the game’s last play. How did the Hawkeyes execute a 10-play, 70-yard drive that gulped the final 97 seconds?
“Everybody kept their composure,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz remembered.
The No. 18 Hawkeyes (5-2 overall, 2-1 Big Ten Conference) host No. 5 and league-leading Michigan State (8-0, 4-0) on Saturday with a 2:36 p.m. start from inside Kinnick Stadium. The same composure that carried Iowa to victory a year ago in East Lansing will be called on again as the Hawkeyes try to rebound from a 1-point loss against Wisconsin seven days earlier.
“We move on now,” Ferentz said Tuesday at his weekly press conference in the Hayden Fry Football Complex. “It’s going to be a great challenge for our team and we are certainly thrilled to be back in Kinnick. We have a lot of work to do between now and then, but we are looking forward to Saturday.”
A former high school English teacher, Ferentz refused to hand out marks when asked about the progress of the Hawkeye offensive line, cornerbacks and safeties.
“I’m not big on grading players in the public,” Ferentz said. “We need everybody to play better. I probably need to coach better, too. We just need to play better football.”
The similarity between the 2009 Hawkeyes and the 2010 Spartans is hard to ignore. Last season Iowa won its first nine games (four coming by three points or less); Michigan State is undefeated after eight games this season with a few close calls mixed in between.
“We move on now. It’s going to be a great challenge for our team and we are certainly thrilled to be back in Kinnick. We have a lot of work to do between now and then, but we are looking forward to Saturday.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz
“Yeah, in the sense that we were undefeated at this point and they are undefeated this year, and playing well, maybe under the radar,” Ferentz said of the parallels. “We knew they had the potential to have a good football team and things have really come together for them. That’s what we’re seeing right now.”
The Spartans lead the league in two categories: punt returns (14.5 yards per return) and field goals (13 of 14).
Iowa has won 3 of the last 4 meetings, with the last two games settled in regulation being decided by a total of five points and the Hawkeyes winning 34-27 in double overtime in 2007.
“They are a very talented team, a very well coached team,” Ferentz said of the Spartans. “The thing that stands out as much as anything is they are very, very balanced how they operate offensively. They can run and throw; defensively they play both well — and special teams — they are good in all areas. They are a very balanced football team and they are playing very well right now.”
The Hawkeyes enter Week 2 of the second half of their season and Ferentz said success depends on paying attention to detail and making plays.
“I feel like we can win any game on our schedule,” he said. “I feel like we can lose any of them. That’s kind of how I felt in September and things haven’t changed a lot. We have had have some injuries, but so has everybody else. That’s part of football. The teams that play through the situations the best are the ones that come out on top. The teams that don’t, you know, don’t. So that’s how it works.”