Nov. 15, 2015
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IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Iowa Hawkeyes claimed their third trophy of the season with Saturday’s 40-35 win over Minnesota, and now the sights are set on the next step in securing a spot in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis on Dec. 5.
Iowa, 10-0 for the first time in school history and ranked sixth in the nation, closes the home season Saturday, hosting Purdue (11 a.m., ESPN2). A win by the Hawkeyes would earn a share of the West Division title, and secure their first appearance in the title game. Two Iowa wins to close the regular season, or one Hawkeye win and a Wisconsin loss, would give the Hawkeyes the outright division title.
“It’s a great accomplishment by our players, to get 10 wins in 10 tries, you can’t do any better than that in 10 games,” said head coach Kirk Ferentz on Sunday. “It’s a tribute to their ability to focus week in and week out. We’ve had a lot of great atmospheres in Kinnick Stadium in my 26 years or so here, and that was up there in the top five. It was a great crowd and we appreciate the enthusiasm and support the fans gave our team.”
A sold-out stadium of 70,585 fans supplied a great atmosphere for Iowa’s second prime time game of the season in Kinnick, and the Hawkeyes came through with their six straight home win. The Hawkeyes will have a chance on Saturday to complete the 12th-ever undefeated home season. Iowa has been a perfect 7-0 at home just once, that taking place in 2003.
“One of the things we talked about in the out of season was to play better in Kinnick, certainly it was one of the things on our checklist,” said Ferentz. “Kinnick is a great home field advantage, but the fans don’t play the game. If we do that, the fans will respond, and the guys have done a great job of that this year. To be 6-0 at home is exciting, and we have an opportunity to close it out Saturday. That won’t be easy, but to go through undefeated in Kinnick would be a special accomplishment, it hasn’t been done too many times.”
Iowa moved to a perfect 10 with its 40-35 win over Minnesota to bring Floyd of Rosedale back to Iowa City. The Iowa offense had two touchdown drives over 90 yards, and had over 35 minutes in time of possession.
“C.J. (Beathard) is doing a great job of leading our team,” said Ferentz. “The last two weeks, he is getting healthier, and that’s a positive. The balance we have had on offense has been a key, not only between the run and pass, but also the way the ball has been distributed. The receivers are all involved, and certainly the tight ends were really involved Saturday night as Henry (Krieger Coble) and George (Kittle) both came up with some big plays for us. The running game, with three different guys with at least 195 yards in a game, is an illustration of the balance our football team has right now.”
Krieger Coble and Kittle combined for eight receptions for 105 yards against Minnesota, as Beathard completed 18-of-26 attempts for 213 yards. LeShun Daniels led the rushing attack with 195 yards and three scored on 26 attempts.
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Josey Jewell continued to lead the way. Jewell recorded 13 tackles, including a key sack to stop a Minnesota scoring threat in the second quarter.
“Good call by Phil Parker on the sack,” said Ferentz “And to his credit, Josey was able to execute and make a big play. Josey has done a wonderful job leading the defense and being productive in his play.”
The Hawkeyes now turn their attention to Purdue, the final home game of the season and the next opportunity on the schedule.
“It’s a big weekend, to have a chance to move to 7-0 in conference, 3-0 in November, and clinch a bid to Indianapolis; it’s important for a lot of reasons,” said Ferentz. “As much as anything, it’s the last game in Kinnick for our senior class. Going back to January, they have worked hard, have been fun to work with and have been positive. The personality of the team started to develop during the course of the summer, then through camp and beyond. That all starts with the seniors, I can’t say enough about the entire group. There are a lot of great individual stories, but collectively they have provided a great nucleus of the leadership, which has developed into a big part of our success. For them to be playing their last game, it’s a special time. Hopefully, we’ll have another great crowd like we had Saturday night, and send these guys off in fine fashion. I’m hopeful everyone on the team plays their best out of respect for the seniors.”
Tickets for Saturday’s game are available online at hawkeyesports.com, in person at the UI Athletics Ticket Office in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, or by calling 1-800-IAHAWKS. A $25 youth ticket is available as well. The game is scheduled for 11 a.m. on ESPN2.