By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Winning on the road in football is seldom easy. Winning on the road in the Big Ten Conference against a team ranked No. 3 in the Coaches Poll is even more difficult.
That is the next mission for a University of Iowa football team, fresh off a 55-24 victory over then No. 3 Ohio State that stunned the nation. The Hawkeyes (6-3 overall, 3-3 Big Ten) play at Wisconsin (9-0, 6-0) on Nov. 11 at 2:30 p.m. (CT).
“If you are going to be successful in this conference, you have to win on the road,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said Sunday in an interview with hawkeyesports.com. “It will be a big challenge for our football team, one we will embrace. We know we have a tough hill to climb, but hopefully we’ll be ready by the end of the week.”
The Hawkeyes have won two games in a row and three of their last four to become bowl eligible for a fifth consecutive season. But all those victories have come in Kinnick Stadium. Iowa won at Iowa State in week two of the season, but is 0-2 in league road games, falling at Michigan State and Northwestern by a combined 14 points.
Following is a transcript of what Ferentz had to say in his weekly Sunday Conversation:
QUICK START WITH A PICK 6
“We certainly weren’t counting on that play but what an explosive play that was. Really nice job, the coverage was good, the quarterback had to go to a late option and Amani (Hooker) did a nice job sitting back. He was reading it out and made a good break on the ball and didn’t look back after he got it.”
OFFENSE HITTING ON ALL CYLINDERS
“If we could draw up the way we wanted it to look, that pretty much was it. The guys did a good job, there was good run-pass balance. I think we were a yard apart on run total (243) and pass total (244). More importantly, we were able to run and pass efficiently and work together — I was happy to see that. We were hoping we would see that execution over the last four or five weeks and we finally broke through. We have been working hard in practice and the players have had a great attitude and it was good to see their efforts come to fruition yesterday.”
THE DUO OF AKRUM & JAMES
“We felt (James Butler) had a good opportunity to be a great complement to Akrum (Wadley). Akrum is more effective if we don’t wear him out. Akrum had a tremendous game yesterday, made some real big, critical plays for us. He ran the ball well, too. When James came in, he got his opportunities and had nice plays as well. If we can keep both those guys on the field, that will give us a better opportunity to be a better offense.”
DEFENSE ALLOWS JUST 7 POINTS IN SECOND HALF
“It was rocky the first two possessions (Ohio State) had. They took the ball and scored a touchdown and a field goal. They moved it at ease, especially in the one drive, they had two big plays off the passing game. That is a little discomforting on the sideline; you get a little nervous there. We settled down and our communication got better once we got a little better feel for what they were doing. The guys knuckled down and played an excellent defensive game. To keep them out of the end zone the way they did the rest of the game was an impressive effort.”
“We saw that coming. I made the comment in August, watching him throughout the spring and summer how impressed we were and he did a great job in spring ball and summer program. He knocked it out of the park. You can see the maturation of guys some times and Josh has taken a step with every year he has been here. He played good football for us the last two years, now he is a starter and has played well all season. It’s almost impossible to have three interceptions in one game and all three of them were spectacular plays.”
PLAYING COMPLEMENTRAY FOOTBALL
“We have been pleased with our kickoff coverage all season. It has been as good as I can remember in quite some time. The whole team working well together and as a result, our opponents aren’t getting good field position to start out. That is a positive and helps the defensive effort. We covered it well in punts, too. We only had two punts down the field, but we covered well there. Those are subtle things that help win or lose games for you and right now they are helping us win.”
HAWKEYES HEAD TO MADISON ON NOV. 11
“One thing we were pretty sure of in the preseason is Penn State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin would be highly ranked, and so be it. They are all excellent football teams. Wisconsin has not lost a game and there is reason for that, they are a really good football team. They have had success over the years, they know how to win. It will be a great challenge, especially going up to Madison. It is no easy place to play.”