The way his schedule sets, Iowa is going to learn a lot about himself over the next couple of weeks.
The 18th-seeded Hawkeyes open with back-to-back ranked opponents for the first time since 1974. First is Indiana’s No.17 on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium, then it’s a visit to No.1. 7th from Iowa State for the CyHawk game.
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“The emotions are mostly the excitement, to open up with these teams,” quarterback Spencer Petras said Tuesday. “You couldn’t ask for a better opportunity, to open the 2021 season at home against a ranked opponent. It’s an opportunity to show what we can do.”
The Hawkeyes are looking for a better start than in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, when they lost their first two games.
“It’s definitely something that came up, how we started 0-2,” said center Tyler Linderbaum. “This is something that cannot happen this year.”
Turnovers were the culprit at the start of the eight-game conference-only schedule. Iowa lost two fumbles in a 24-20 loss to Purdue and Petras threw three interceptions in a 21-20 loss to Northwestern. The Hawkeyes have recovered, winning their last six games.
“We missed the first two games last year,” said tight end Sam LaPorta. “We lost by a total of four points, five points. These are just small details. There are maybe four or five games that can change a game, and you don’t know they’re happening. turn on the movie on Sunday, and you know it’s the games that change the game. We’ve had a few of them last year, and that’s why we have to be on point on every snap. “
That’s why, Linderbaum said, there was a discussion about how the Hawkeyes started out last year, if only to remind you to be as specific as possible right away.
“The goal was just to clean things up, in training and in the offseason,” Linderbaum said.
Indiana went 6-2 last season, 6-1 in the Big Ten. Iowa State won the Big 12 title in the regular season, going 8-1 in conference and 9-3 overall.
Iowa have won seven of their last eight games against Indiana, including a three-game winning streak. The Hawkeyes have won six of the last seven against Iowa State, including the last five.
The Hawkeyes and Hoosiers meet as ranked teams for just the second time in series history. Iowa was No.10 and Indiana No.25 in the 1991 game, won by the Hawkeyes, 38-21.
“Your schedule is your schedule – you play what’s in front of you. But the point is we play a very good football team,” said coach Kirk Ferentz. “I think there is nothing wrong with that. And we all knew in January that we were playing a good football team to open the season.”
This will be the first time since 1980 that Iowa has opened against a Big Ten opponent. The Hawkeyes typically start with a Group of Five game or an FCS program.
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“It’s unique in that it’s different from previous years,” said Petras. “But yeah, I like it.”
Ferentz has said he hopes his players always operate with a sense of urgency, regardless of the opponent.
“I think the reality is we all realize that there isn’t a lot of leeway this week,” he said. “And we know that from spring training at the end of March. Then we’ll find out.”