Iowa football hoping to rest, improve in bye week

Iowa will have Week 7 of the college football season off before it heads to Columbus to take on Ohio State.


Grace Smith

Iowa exits the field after a football game between Iowa and Illinois at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill., on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. The Fighting Illini defeated the Hawkeyes, 9-6.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Iowa football will enter its bye week at 3-3 following a 9-6 loss to Illinois on Saturday. And the Hawkeyes say their rest is much needed.

The Hawkeyes have been playing football without a break since the beginning of August.

“We’ve been playing football for, I think, 10 weeks straight going from camp until now,” senior wide receiver Nico Ragaini said. “So, the break would definitely be nice for our bodies to just regroup a little bit and get our confidence back during the bye week and just continue to push forward.”

The Hawkeyes, especially quarterback Spencer Petras, have played through a physical first six weeks of the season. Petras has been sacked 18 times in six games, including five on Saturday.

Petras was also checked for a concussion after a late hit that was reviewed for targeting on Saturday. His head snapped back onto the turf after he was hit, and he stayed on the ground for a few seconds after the play was over. Petras said he passed a concussion test while the play was being reviewed.

“That’s just Big Ten football,” Petras said.

Despite criticism from fans, head coach Kirk Ferentz said he is committed to Petras at quarterback and offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz calling plays.

“Tonight’s disappointing, but the first thing we have to do is, it has been 10 straight weeks pretty rigorous football,” Kirk Ferentz said. “So, when our guys get caught up physically, it’s hopefully beneficial.

“We’re sitting here right now, we’re 3-3, and we’ve got a week to figure things out the best we can,” he added. “… Then we’ll brace up for the next six weeks, that’s how I look at it.”

Iowa’s offense has struggled in its first six games of the season. The Hawkeyes are last in the 131-team FBS in total offense, generating 238.8 yards per game.

Going into the bye week, Petras thinks Iowa’s offense has improved through the first six games of the season, but it’s “not getting better fast enough.” Iowa has been held to seven points or fewer in three of its games and has just seven offensive touchdowns in six games.

The Hawkeyes didn’t score a touchdown against South Dakota State, instead scoring their points off of two safeties and a field goal. Iowa also relied on field goals in its sixth game of the season against Illinois.

“I would just disagree with that we haven’t progressed,” Petras said. “I would say we’re not getting the results we want, and I don’t know what the tape will look like [on Sunday]. I could have regressed today. But, you know, through five games of tape, from what I’ve seen, what our coaches have seen, what everyone’s seeing, we are getting better.”

Iowa may get some firepower back following the bye if wide receiver Diante Vines is cleared to play. Vines suffered a broken wrist during the Hawkeyes’ fall camp and hasn’t played a snap yet this season. He suited up and went through warmups with the Hawkeyes against the Fighting Illini, but he appeared in street clothes on the sideline before the game

“I think there’s a realistic chance he’ll be back after the bye week,” Kirk Ferentz said following Iowa’s loss to Michigan Oct. 1. “The good news for him is he can run. He’ll be in great shape because that’s all he can do is run; he can’t catch. But hopefully we’ll get him back, and he was doing really well prior to his injury, so if we can get him back, you’re talking about a guy that’s been around here for a while, not just a first-year guy, and that would help.”

Despite heading into the bye with a loss, the Hawkeyes are still implementing their usual 24-hour rule — watch film and move on within one day.

Iowa will now turn its attention to No. 3 Ohio State. The Hawkeyes have an extra week to prepare for their first meeting with the Buckeyes since 2017, when Iowa took down Ohio State, 55-24.

This time, the Hawkeyes will travel to Columbus, Ohio, to take on the 6-0 Buckeyes. Ohio State beat Michigan State, 49-20, on Saturday.

“This is a tough one to swallow,” Jack Campbell said of the Illinois loss. “Going into the bye week to sit on that for a little bit extra. But again, 24-hour rule, flush it and move on. We’re gonna face a blueblood program up next that are one of the best in the nation. So, our main focus is on them.”