Sunday Conversation with Kirk Ferentz

Nov. 22, 2015

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — After winning three straight rivalry trophies earlier this season, the Iowa Hawkeyes claimed more hardware Saturday, clinching the Big Ten West Division title with a 40-20 win over Purdue. That, along with Northwestern’s win at Wisconsin later in the day, earned Iowa the outright title and a spot in the Big Ten championship game on Saturday, Dec. 5 in Indianapolis (7:17 p.m. CT) following Friday’s Heroes Game at Nebraska.

The Hawkeyes improved to 11-0 on the season, including a perfect 7-0 record in Kinnick Stadium. Iowa moved up to third in both the Associated Press and coaches national rankings. The latest College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings will be released Tuesday evening.

“It feels great. We congratulated the team in the locker room for clinching the bid to Indianapolis, and were happy to learn later in the day that we are sole winners of the Big Ten West,” said Ferentz. “We’re happy to finish 7-0 in Kinnick and to be 11-0 overall, it’s as good as we can be right now. This is a short week and we have one more challenge in the regular season at Nebraska on Friday.”

The Hawkeyes got off to another strong start, scoring the first 20 points of the game. After a touchdown and a pair of field goals by the Boilermakers, the Hawkeyes closed the second half with a 20-7 advantage, scoring 30-plus points in five straight games for the first time in school history.

“I was happy with the way the guys came out of the locker room,” said Ferentz. “We played well on defense, and the offense took the first three possessions for scores; we were able to finish all three with touchdowns. Going into the wind in the second quarter, along with the field position made it tough, and Purdue fought back. The defense did a good job in holding them to two field goals once they were in the red zone. We withheld their flurry, and then had the 90-plus yard drive to take control again. That was a timely drive, symbolic of the way the team has responded all season, they have really performed when we need to get something done, and once again they were able to get that accomplished.”

Having their lead cut to 20-13, the Hawkeyes responded with a 91-yard, eight-play touchdown drive, culminated with a 35-yard scoring strike from C.J. Beathard to tight end George Kittle. It was Iowa’s sixth drive of the season over 90 yards.

“I think we did a good job of spreading the ball around, we used play action in that drive and got them on their heels a little bit,” said Ferentz. “Then the crowning blow was a really nice job by C.J. with the audible, to check down to George to get the touchdown and finish that drive. It was a big point in the game.

Beathard added a 22-yard touchdown pass to tight end Henry Krieger Coble before running back Jordan Canzeri completed the scoring with a 42-yard touchdown scamper.

Jordan did a great job on the long run; we had great blocking by the line, the tight ends, and the fullback,” said Ferentz. “Once Jordan got through the first level there was nobody back there; it was a great way for a senior to leave his final game in Kinnick. For a guy who’s had a great career, that’s a great last memory for Jordan.”

With Canzeri’s touchdown giving the Hawkeyes a 40-20 advantage with 2:12 to play, every senior had the chance to play in their final home game.

“It was really appropriate,” said Ferentz. “This team has done well because of the senior leadership, going back to January. They have embraced that role and worked hard; I am thrilled that everyone was able to get in the game and see a little action. It was a great way for them to remember their last game in Kinnick.”

Iowa closes the regular season Friday at Nebraska (2:30 p.m., ABC), in the annual Hy-Vee Heroes Game. The Hawkeyes will seek to finish an undefeated regular season for the fifth time in school history

“It’s a short week of preparation, and I think our guys will be ready,” said Ferentz. “We have a lot to play for. We didn’t play very clean in this game last year, and it didn’t turn out well. Our No. 1 goal will be to play a clean game, play hard, and play our best game of the year on national television.”

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