Hawkeyes gaining steam after two blowout victories

Following an 0-2 start to the season, Iowa clawed its way back to .500 with wins over Michigan State and Minnesota.


Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa Hawkeyes running back Tyler Goodson (15) celebrates with offensive lineman Justin Britt (63) after scoring a touchdown in the first half against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. (Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY Sports)

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

Iowa’s victory over Minnesota on Nov. 13 meant the Floyd of Rosedale trophy will stay in Iowa City for a sixth year in a row. The win was also the latest step for the Hawkeyes in turning their season around following an 0-2 start.

The Hawkeyes have clawed their way back to .500 on the season, earning back-to-back wins in blowout fashion over Michigan State, 49-7, and Minnesota, 35-7.

The team’s 0-2 start could’ve derailed team chemistry and morale. Head coach Kirk Ferentz said Iowa’s last two wins were important beyond the X’s and O’s.

“Every week’s a challenge,” Ferentz said Nov. 13. “Anytime you lose, you have to worry about just how the guys are doing because they’re young. Those of us who’ve been around the game for a while realize there’s ups and downs during the course of any season, typically. It’s not always wins and losses, but you’re always going to be dealing with something, and you got to worry about that with any football team and any football player.”

Iowa hasn’t just earned two blowout wins the last two weeks, it changed its complexion entirely.

Against Purdue and Northwestern to open the season, the Hawkeyes threw the ball 89 times — producing 481 yards, three interceptions, and one passing touchdown. In their two most recent wins, the Hawkeyes have changed their strategy, and it paid off. Iowa ran the ball 75 times and passed on only 45 occasions.

RELATED: By the numbers | Iowa’s decisive victory over Minnesota

The Hawkeyes’ efforts on the ground have yielded 461 yards and 8 rushing touchdowns over the past two weeks.

With a winning formula on offense, the Hawkeyes’ are feeling good about what the rest of the season might hold for them.

“As long as we take care of the football, limit turnovers, and progress on the fundamentals, I think this team, we could be, we could do great things here at Iowa,” running back Tyler Goodson said. “Like I said before, this team has created a great bond with each other and it’s showing on the field, and we’re able to become successful.”

Despite two satisfying wins, the Hawkeyes know there is still work to do, and that now is not time to get complacent.

“We just got to continue to come in and practice better,” center Tyler Linderbaum said. “You know, and the offensive side, at least, you know, we can still practice better, coach [Ferentz] hit on that. We can still practice better, which is a good thing. We’re coming out here these last two weeks playing our butts off. But, you know, [we] have to watch the film, learn what we need to improve on, and then just come out in practice and work on it.”

This week, Iowa will have a chance to snap its six-game losing streak to Penn State. The Nittany Lions are 0-4 after losses to Indiana, Ohio State, Maryland, and Nebraska. The Big Ten Conference announced Sunday that the game will kick off at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

“I’m really, really proud of the guys,” Ferentz said. “Even after that first loss I thought they worked hard, we made improvements in game two. Unfortunately, we weren’t good enough. We were a point short against [Northwestern]. The guys kept working. They really haven’t been deterred this year. I think they’ve kept focusing on trying to get better. That’s what we’re going to have to do . . . There’s a lot of football left, and we still have a lot of improvement to make.”

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