Iowa football trying to move past Big Ten Championship Game loss

Iowa lost to Michigan, 42-3, Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa running back Tyler Goodson walks off the field after the Big Ten Championship game between No. 13 Iowa and No. 2 Michigan at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. The Wolverines became Big Ten Champions after defeating the Hawkeyes, 42-3.

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

INDIANAPOLIS — Confetti began to fall from the rafters at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday night as a defeated Iowa football team retreated to the venue’s home tunnel. In their classic swarm fashion, the Hawkeyes trotted back to the locker room, hand-in-hand.

Soon after Iowa barreled down the tunnel, Michigan hoisted the Amos Alonzo Stagg Trophy, celebrating an outright Big Ten Conference title, a College Football Playoff berth, and a 42-3 win over Iowa.

“It hurts,” Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta said postgame. “You know, the team has been working for a moment like this since January — for a lot of these guys, four, five, six years. It hurts more than anything to work so hard and fall quite a ways short.”

Before Saturday, the Hawkeyes hadn’t made a trip to Indianapolis for a Big Ten Championship Game since 2015, when they lost to the Michigan State Spartans, 16-13.

Given the gap between Iowa’s two appearances in the conference title game, Hawkeye head coach Kirk Ferentz emphasized that his 2021 team has achieved some pretty impressive feats.

“I told them after the game that we’re extremely proud of them,” Ferentz said of his team. “They can be very proud of themselves and walk out there, heads held high. Tonight’s disappointing, and when you compete, sometimes it doesn’t work out the way you want. Sometimes, it works out like this, and this wasn’t much fun.

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“It’s one game out of 13, right? We still got one to go,” Ferentz added. “You can’t take the sting out of the loss. That’s impossible. We’ll go back to work at the end of the week and try to be really smart about how we treat things mentally, more so than even physically, with our team as we move forward and get ourselves ready to play our best in the last ball game here.”

The 10-win, outright Big Ten West Champion Hawkeyes now face a three-week break before they play their next game.

This is the second time Iowa has faced an extended break after a loss. Before their bye week, the Hawkeyes fell t the Purdue Boilermakers, 24-7, Oct. 16 at Kinnick Stadium.

Iowa followed its loss to Purdue with a 27-7 defeat at the hands of Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium Oct. 30.

Despite the loss in the league championship, the Hawkeyes are focused on flushing the contest from their memory and preparing for the bowl game.

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“I mean, it’s tough,” junior linebacker Seth Benson said. “But I think, in life, you got a choice each and every day you wake up . . . and the sun’s going to come up pretty early tomorrow. You’ve got two choices. You can sit and sulk about it, or you can get up and move on.

“We got another game left,” Benson added. “I’m super excited to play another game with all these guys. I think you just gotta be optimistic. Obviously, it sucks right now. But yeah, just keep moving forward.”

With a win in Saturday’s Big Ten Championship Game, the Hawkeyes likely would’ve been headed to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, to take on Pac-12 Champion Utah on Jan. 1.

Instead, Iowa will partake in the Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. Iowa will take on the Kentucky Wildcats. Kickoff between Iowa and Kentucky is set for noon on Jan. 1.