Iowa Faces `Protected Rival' on Saturday

Nov. 15, 2011

Complete Press Conference Transcript

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa football has not lost back-to-back football games this season. Head coach Kirk Ferentz isn’t thrilled at having four chances to halt a losing skid.

“I wish we hadn’t had three opportunities to do that, and I really wish we didn’t have four,” Ferentz said Tuesday at his weekly press conference inside the Hayden Fry Football Complex. “We’ll see what we do this week with this fourth one. It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen. I know we’re playing a good team in their place where they’ve played well. We’ve got our hands full.”

The Hawkeyes (6-4 overall, 3-3 Big Ten Conference) travel to West Lafayette, Ind., to play Purdue (5-5, 3-3) on Saturday. Kickoff from Ross-Ade Stadium is set for 11:01 a.m. (CT).

Iowa is 3-0 this season following a loss. The Hawkeyes defeated Pittsburgh, 31-27, after a loss at Iowa State; they defeated Northwestern, 41-31, after a loss at Penn State; and they upset No. 13 Michigan, 24-16, after a loss at Minnesota. All three “next-game” victories came inside Kinnick Stadium; this time the Hawkeyes return to the road, where they are 0-3 this season.

“We’re looking forward to getting this taste out of our mouth and getting our first win on the road,” senior cornerback Shaun Prater said. “It will be a great challenge to get our first win on the road and we’re looking forward to it.”

The Boilermakers are coming off a 26-23 overtime victory against Ohio State on Nov. 12. They have notable home victories against Illinois (21-14), the Buckeyes and Minnesota (45-17). While Iowa has avoided back-to-back losses this season, Purdue has not found a way to notch back-to-back wins…the Boilermakers are 0-4 after a victory.

Ferentz was asked about the road difficulties for his team this season:

“We haven’t played as well as the opponent, and that’s been one common denominator,” Ferentz said. “We’ve had three road trips, and we were outplayed all three times, pure and simple. It’s a challenge for us to ramp up our level of performance.”

Iowa and Purdue have been special in some areas of special teams. The Hawkeyes are No. 1 in the league with a net punting average of 39.3, followed by Purdue at 38.9. The Boilermakers are tops with an average of 27.4 per kickoff return.

“They’ve got three good returners, not just one, so it’s a dangerous group,” Ferentz said. “They play hard on all their special teams. And the thing about kick returns, it’s kind of like a pass play. If you’re not on top of your game, everybody who doesn’t fit in where they’re supposed to, you run the risk of giving up something big, and we know that all too well.”

This is the first meeting between the schools since a 22-17 win by Iowa on Nov. 15, 2008 in Iowa City. It is also the first time the teams meet as “protected crossover rivals” from the Legends (Iowa) and Leaders (Purdue) divisions.

“I’ve never really paid attention to this divisional play, but I think it’s a great concept and the way they went about things was pretty neat,” Ferentz said.

Iowa and Penn State are the only two Big Ten teams to finish the season with two consecutive games away from home.

“It’s not so much the winning and losing but it’s just how you go about your business,” Ferentz said of the final weeks of a season. At the end of the day it’s just about how we do things, what we do on a daily basis, academically, socially and on the field, and if you’re doing things right. I think this month is really important from that standpoint, just how we do things, how we prepare and then how we compete.”