Sept. 27, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — If the four-game nonconference part of the season wasn’t a big enough test, the University of Iowa football team opens Big Ten Conference play Oct. 3 on the road against defending West Division champion Wisconsin.
The last time the Hawkeyes played at Camp Randall Stadium was Oct. 17, 2009, when Iowa won, 20-10.
“We love playing at home, but you have to get on the road in the non-league season just to get used to that,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said Sunday during an exclusive interview with hawkeyesports.com. “(Iowa State) was a tough, hostile environment and a competitive football game. It will be the same kind of thing at Wisconsin. They’re an excellent football team, so we have to play our best to make it a good game, and then we have to know the fans aren’t going to be real friendly toward us and that’s OK. That’s fun.”
In its only road test of the season, the Hawkeyes scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to defeat Iowa State, 31-17. That win was followed by a physical and emotional 27-24 victory at home against Pittsburgh, a finish that could have led to sluggish play Saturday against North Texas.
“We talked to the players about that pretty extensively during the course of the week,” Ferentz said. “We were off to a good start — 3-0 and everybody feeling pretty good about the way the Pittsburgh game ended for obvious reasons. We were all feeling good about that, but in football you have to move on and push forward and the real key is trying to get ready the best you can every week for your opponent.”
“(Wisconsin is) an excellent football team, so we have to play our best to make it a good game, and then we have to know the fans aren’t going to be real friendly toward us and that’s OK. That’s fun.”
UI football coach
The end result was Iowa scoring five touchdowns on it first eight drives of the first half. The Hawkeyes finished with 488 total yards, 180 punt and kickoff return yards, and two defensive scores during a 62-16 victory.
A nice cushion on the scoreboard allowed nearly 50 Hawkeyes to see playing time against the Mean Green.
“Everybody on the team works hard during the course of the week, but unfortunately during the season not everybody gets to play or play as much as they like,” Ferentz said. “That’s part of football. Any time you get an opportunity to play guys on the second and third teams and give them a chance to go out there and experience playing in front of the great fans in Kinnick, that’s a real bonus.”
The Hawkeyes have scored on seven drives of 80-or more yards this season; five times they have scored touchdowns on plays of 25-or-more yards (two on defense).
“If we’re going to be successful we’re going to need that,” Ferentz said.
As far as an injury update, Ferentz said “all in all this time of the season we’re doing pretty well.”
Iowa and Wisconsin kick off at 11 a.m. (CT) on Oct. 3. The game will be televised by ESPN.