Iowa prepared to travel to the Land of Lakes
There’s no question about whether the Floyd of Rosedale, the state of Iowa’s favorite pig, will leave its case in the heart of the Iowa football complex for this weekend’s matchup against rival Minnesota. The question is whether or not it will return to Iowa City with the team when the Big Ten season kicks off this weekend against rival Minnesota.
“That’s what we like,” offensive tackle Brandon Scherff said. “The competition ramps up a bit. Every game is a big game for us, and we had a great nonconference [portion of the schedule], and we’re just looking to move forward.” While Minnesota is off to a 4-0 and Iowa a 3-1 start after the nonconference portion of the schedule, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said that Big Ten competition is a “week by week” challenge.
“You never know what the Big Ten is going to be like,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said at the press conference Tuesday. “That’s something I tried to emphasize to our team in August, the way things look in August or July or June, and everybody is prognosticating and guessing. You just never know what it’s going to look like when you get to September, October, November.” Both the Gopher and Hawkeye offenses have found success on the ground. Minnesota has rushed for 16 touchdowns, the Hawkeyes 8. The Hawkeye defense has shown progress stopping the run this season, allowing only 350 rushing yards from opponents, the 12th best in the nation.
With both teams focusing on the ground game before the pass, play-action and shotgun passes might be a crucial part of the offense. “There’s a lot of stress on us to make a lot of big plays down the field, because we need that on offense to open it up and help the running game,” wide receiver Jacob Hillyer said on Tuesday. “I feel like as we grow, we’ll be used to the big stage. Right now, we have a lot of young receivers. As we grow, we’ll understand that and play better, dealing with a big stage like that.”
When it comes to getting into the end zone, Hillyer has been one of quarterback Jake Rudock’s go-to receivers. Hillyer has caught a touchdown in each of the last two games against Iowa State and Western Michigan. “[It’s] good to see him coming alive a little bit,” Ferentz said. “Not just catching the football but doing something with it afterwards. That’s a real positive, and he’s a young player, so he’s still climbing the ladder. But it’s always good when guys can make some plays.”
This will be Rudock’s second road game of the season and college career. His numbers have been solid in his first four games, throwing for 730 yards and 5 touchdowns and rushing for 93 yards and 4 touchdowns. “I’d say I’m a little more comfortable,” Rudock said. “I think I’ve learned that if I don’t like a play, I shouldn’t force it. Don’t think, ‘Oh, I have to throw it here because that’s what we saw on film.’ I have to understand that the defense may have changed things up or we may have to make the throw or wait for a different one.”
This will be the 78th iteration of the Floyd of Rosedale rivalry game for the Hawkeyes and Gophers, and while it’s not as heated of a rivalry as Iowa State, it’s one rooted in history. But Floyd and the rivalry itself aren’t as important to Ferentz as the game that will be played on the field. “I just know this: Minnesota looks like they have a really good football team,” Ferentz said. “They’ve been playing well all four of their games. They’ve got some real strengths.”
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