By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Coming off a humbling road loss at Penn State, the University of Iowa football team is getting back to work in preparation for Saturday’s primetime matchup against No. 2/3 Michigan.
The Hawkeyes host the Wolverines at 7:12 p.m. (CT) under the lights inside Kinnick Stadium. The game, which is sold out, will be televised nationally on ABC.
“It’s a new week, a new opportunity,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday during a news conference inside the Stew and LeNore Hansen Football Performance Center. “The best thing you can do any time you have a tough loss is get back to work.”
Ferentz has been impressed with Hawkeyes’ resolve in dealing with the season’s ups and downs. Iowa is 5-4 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten action.
“Any time you go through a tough loss, any loss, teams can split or pull together,” he said. “I have only witnessed positive actions and behaviors from our players. They have good work habits, attitudes, heart, and pride.”
When speaking on Iowa’s team confidence level, Ferentz said confidence is something that is earned through practice, by doing the little things right, meeting well, and competing. Ferentz said the Hawkeyes didn’t compete in Happy Valley.
“We got hit right on the chin,” said Ferentz. “The whole challenge is to get back up on your feet and go back to work. We have to do it this week because the team we play is going to be a big challenge for us.”
The Wolverines are 9-0 overall and 6-0 in the Big Ten. Michigan has won its nine games by an average of 37.3 points.
“They come in highly-ranked and they’ve earned both those things with every win,” said Ferentz. “They’re a strong football team in every phase, area, and in nine games, they’ve been behind one time in one game.”
The Wolverines trailed Colorado, 14-0 and 21-7 in the first quarter Sept. 12 before outscoring the Buffaloes, 38-7, thereafter in a 45-28 victory. Michigan hasn’t trailed since.
“It’s hard to find any cracks or weaknesses,” said Ferentz. “Statistics don’t always tell the whole story, but if you go through the Big Ten stats, it’s hard to find any category where they’re not in the top two or three.
“If you look at nine games, typically there are some ups and downs, but it’s hard to find too many (with them). They’re playing well right now.”
The Wolverines are in the top three nationally in both scoring offense (third) and scoring defense (first). Michigan is first in the country in seven defensive categories and ranks in the top two in 13 Big Ten categories.
Ferentz says Iowa’s emphasis this week needs to be on Iowa, not Michigan.
“All we can do is focus on what we can do, which is practice and prepare as hard as we can, then we have to go out and compete Saturday night, knowing that we’re playing a good football team,” said Ferentz. “We’ve played some good teams this year already, so you have to go out and do as well as you can and go from there.
“But we almost have to play a mistake-free game. That’s a starting point because they don’t open the door very often for you.”