Iowa football gears up for another November top-10 matchup

The Hawkeyes are no strangers to top-10 November matchups in Kinnick Stadium. Now, the mentality from their 2017 win over Ohio State is an important stepping stone for facing No. 7 Minnesota.

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Nick Rohlman

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley points out a linebacker during Iowa's game against Ohio State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Buckeyes 55 to 24.

Anna Kayser, Sports Editor

The last time Iowa played an afternoon game in Kinnick Stadium against a top 10 team, quarterback Nate Stanley and company erupted for a 55-24 win over Ohio State in 2017 to knock it out of the College Football Playoff race.

The Hawkeyes are no stranger to these kinds of wins. This week marked three years since Keith Duncan’s clutch field goal to knock off undefeated Michigan in 2016, as well.

This week poses a chance for Iowa to continue its reign over undefeated Big Ten teams in November, and its next victim is No. 7 Minnesota. The Golden Gophers, who just knocked off Penn State, have proven they can play with the best teams. For Iowa, that 2017 win against Ohio State holds a strong point of emphasis.

“I think if we can come out and just play loose and just go out there and really just give it all for 60 minutes. That’s really all we can ask for,” Stanley said. “I think that’s something that we did when we played Ohio State two years ago. Obviously, that turned out pretty well for us.”

Even from the stands during games, it’s easy to see when Iowa’s offense tries to rush things and puts pressure on itself. Now, with the Hawkeyes seemingly out of the Big Ten West race, they are playing to be a 10-win team and climb up in the bowl game selection process.

As with the game against Ohio State, the team with the most to lose is the team that has to face the Kinnick Stadium atmosphere.

“[We have to] just go out there and play like there’s nothing to lose,” Stanley said. “I think most of the pressure is on their shoulders. Obviously, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to play the best that we can, but they’re the ones that kind of control their own destiny right now.”

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Coming off of a 24-22 loss to Wisconsin, in which Iowa’s offense turned on the burners for the second half after amassing only 27 passing yards through 30 minutes, the mentality is the same as it always has been under head coach Kirk Ferentz — after 24 hours, move on.

Iowa had a chance to bounce back from a loss at Michigan and at home against Penn State, but it took the loss. This weekend is a new chance at righting the ship.

“There’s always a little residue there,” Ferentz said. “But at some point, you’ve got to get your attention, and when you play a team like Minnesota — 9-0 football team — that shows you how important every second is. We can’t be looking backwards; we have to be looking out the front window here and doing what we can do to get ready for a really tough opponent.”

This season, Iowa has beaten the teams that it should have beaten and lost to the teams that it was underdogs against. This weekend is about making sure there isn’t a drop off between levels for the Hawkeyes.

“We need to be at the level that maximizes our play,” Stanley said. “We can’t overhype ourselves or be too low. I think everybody has optimum level of arousal when they play their best. I think it’s on ourselves to make sure we’re on that level.”

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