powered by the Iowa City Press-Citizen & The Des Moines Register
Subscribe via RSS Feed

Iowa tries to snap road losing streak

[ 1 ] November 18, 2011 |

The last time Iowa finished 0-for-the-road was in 1999, when Kirk Ferentz went 1-10 (0-5 on the road) in an unmemorable first year with the Hawkeyes.

Prior to that, the last time Iowa failed to win a home game was in 1978, when Bob Commings went 2-9 (0-5 on the road) and was fired.

Iowa travels today to Purdue with an 0-3 road record and two chances to break a five-game road losing streak dating back to last season.

“We’ve had three road trips, I believe, and we’ve been outplayed all three times, pure and simple,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “So it’s a challenge for us to ramp up our level of performance.”

Iowa finished its home schedule 6-1. The three road losses were at Iowa State (44-41), at Penn State (13-3) and at Minnesota (22-21).

“It usually comes down to execution for us, playing clean football,” senior tackle Markus Zusevics said. “Last week, we weren’t able to do that, you could just see the results.”

Iowa (6-4, 3-3) had a chance to get road wins at Iowa State and Minnesota, losing in overtime in Ames, and blowing a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter in Minneapolis.

“We’ve just got to come out ready to play from the start,” senior defensive end Broderick Binns said. “Especially against a team that is riding on cloud nine right now, just beat a powerhouse in the nation.

“We know they are going to come ready to play, they are going to be fired up, and we’ve got to match their intensity.”

Purdue (5-5, 3-3) is coming off a 26-23 overtime win at Ohio State. One more victory and they can become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2008, and the first time for third-year coach Danny Hope.

“It will be an emotional game,” Hope said. “It will be our last home game for us, an opportunity to win a secure season, potential for post-season play, and an opportunity to send our seniors out right.”

Is the emotion still there for the Hawkeyes? With the Legends Division title all but mathematically out of reach, Iowa is just playing for a better bowl slot.

“We still have a lot to play for,” Zusevics said. “We can still play for a good bowl game. We’re not the type of guys that are just let down because we’re out of the Big Ten title chase. We’re going to finish strong.”

Finishing strong is something that appeals to Binns, too.

“I guess it would be just for pride,” Binns said. “Not being one of those teams that is known to let up. A couple years form now, I don’t want to come back and have the coaches say, ‘oh that 2011 team gave up at the end. That senior class gave up.’

“It’s for pride. And we still got a chance to make a bowl game too.”

Ferentz said road trips are treated just like home games. It is just hard to win on the road in the Big Ten. Ferentz is 37-15 at home (.712 winning percentage), and 19-31 (.380) on the road in Big Ten play.

Across the Big Ten this year, home teams are 23-13 (.639).

“We’ve just got to step the intensity up even more,” sophomore Marcus Coker said. “We haven’t done particularly well on the road. Nothing I can put my finger on. I haven’t thought about it much.”

Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg said road games shouldn’t be harder.

“I’d say its easier,” Vandenberg said. “Being in that hostile environment, knowing you only have the 60 guys around you. It is really vital that you’re on your game.

“I don’t know if anything is different, we just haven’t played well.”

Purdue isn’t ranked in the top half of the Big Ten in any offensive or defensive categories. Kawann Short is a dangerous force on the defensive line with 15½ tackles for loss. Ricardo Allen has three interceptions.

“They are a tough group,” Vandenberg said. “They do a good job of stopping the run and eliminating your best pass plays.”

The offense is led by Claeb TerBush at quarterback. Their biggest weapon may be freshman kick returners Raheem Mostert, who averages 31.2 yards per return, but without a touchdown.

“There is no difference,” senior Mike Daniels said of road games. “We haven’t changed what we do. There is no difference. I can’t see there being a difference between why we’re not winning and why we have.

“We have to complete a game. Play every quarter, every minute really well.”

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Ryan Suchomel: Reach Ryan Suchomel at 339-7368 or rsuchomel@press-citizen.com. View author profile.

Comments closed