Nov. 16, 2014
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — You reap what you sow, and for the University of Iowa football team, that means the toil of August, September, and October leads to a meaningful November.
The Big Ten Conference West Division lead is at stake Nov. 22 when the Hawkeyes (7-3 overall, 4-2 Big Ten) host No. 14 Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1) with a 2:30 p.m. (CT) kickoff from Kinnick Stadium.
“It is one of our goals every year, to be playing for something significant in November, which means you have to be doing things right in preseason,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said Sunday in an exclusive interview with hawkeyesports.com. “Coming out of Illinois with a seventh win is big for us. Now we come back to Kinnick.”
The Hawkeyes scored a season-high 21 points in the second half Nov. 15 and defeated the Illini, 30-14. It was an impressive response after falling hard at Minnesota seven days earlier.
“You are never quite sure how the team is going to get back up on their feet — or if they are going to — and how they are going to respond during the course of the week,” Ferentz said. “I was pleased when the guys showed up for practice and meetings Tuesday, they had a great attitude. They moved around well all week, and more importantly, played with good enthusiasm yesterday. Any time you go on the road to win a Big Ten football game is no easy task. We came out with a victory so we’re happy about that.”
In the past two seasons, Iowa has won seven of 10 road games. Also encouraging are results in the last two home games — a 45-29 win against Indiana and a 48-7 win against Northwestern. The Hawkeyes’ final two regular-season games are in Kinnick Stadium.
“It is all about this week for us,” Ferentz said. “We have an opportunity to be at home and playing an outstanding football team. Wisconsin is a tremendous football team — highly ranked and rightfully so — very strong in a lot of areas.”
Iowa is coming off a season-high 587 yards of total offense, the fourth-highest total under Ferentz. The Hawkeyes rushed for 304 yards, also the fourth-highest total under Ferentz. Defensively, the Illini were limited to 235 yards and 12 first downs.
“Statistically we played well, but more importantly, on the field the whole team did a good job and played good team football,” Ferentz said. “For the most part it was a big step forward for us on defense.”
Seven Hawkeyes caught at least one pass and Ferentz said the team is better when the ball is spread around and “everyone produces.” He complimented the 1-2 rushing punch of Mark Weisman (134 yards) and Jordan Canzeri (68), and said Iowa’s wide receivers did a good job blocking down field on Illinois safeties.