Iowa finishes the regular season with a pair of road games, something the Hawkeyes haven’t done since 1984.
In fact, no Iowa team has ended the season with two Big Ten games on the road since 1951. That year Iowa closed out the season with league road games at Illinois, Wisconsin and finished at Notre Dame.
“I can’t put a positive spin on this one, other than it gives us two opportunities to win on the road,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We haven’t done it yet, so that’s a good thing.”
The Hawkeyes have lost their last five road games, including all three games this year. Iowa plays at Purdue, where the Hawkeyes haven’t won since 2005, and finished at Big Ten newcomer Nebraska.
“We’ve known all year that we’re going to finish with two on the road, and being 0-3 on the road, this is a great opportunity for us to get that ship righted,” Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg said.
Iowa had chances to win in each of the five road losses, and held fourth-quarter leads in four of them. This year, Iowa’s opponents’ average fourth-quarter time of possession is 10 minutes, 53 seconds.
But if there is a common element to Iowa’s road woes, Ferentz wouldn’t discuss it.
“Probably haven’t played as well as the opponent, and that’s been one common denominator,” Ferentz said. “We’ve had three road trips, I believe, and we been outplayed all three times, pure and simple. So it’s a challenge for us to ramp up our level of performance.”
Wisconsin dismantled Purdue 62-17 on Nov. 5, rushing for 364 yards and racking up 605 total yards. Purdue regrouped last week against Ohio State and shocked the Buckeyes 26-23 in overtime. The Boilermakers held Ohio State to 298 total yards and blocked a potential game-winning extra point with 55 seconds left to send the game into overtime.
“I think it just shows that they’re a mentally tough program that also is not just giving up or anything,” Iowa senior tackle Markus Zusevics said. “They’re also playing hard and are well-coached.”
Wide receiver Keenan Davis and tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz left the game Saturday with injuries, but both should be able to play Saturday, Ferentz said.
Fiedorowicz was held out after taking a shot to the head against Michigan State. Davis re-aggravated an ankle injury that first occurred against Indiana.
“It’s part of the process, and the good news is he was doing well on Sunday,” Ferentz said about Davis. “It’s just part of the process. Unless you take about eight weeks off, it’s really hard to come back full speed. Hopefully he’ll get totally well in December.”
Some players eat a feast before a game, others eschew food — or it doesn’t stay in them very long.
Vandenberg eats the same type of meal before every game. He eats a bowl of Cheerios, some fruit, hash browns, half a pancake and drinks chocolate milk. It’s a different meal from his predecessor, Ricky Stanzi.
“Rick was always a little, couldn’t eat very much before the game,” Vandenberg said. “I’m very fortunate, I’ve never had any problems like that. I feel pretty normal.