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Why November is a crucial month for the Iowa football team

[ 0 ] November 13, 2013 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. – November 2012 was a disastrous month for Iowa’s football team.

Four games and four losses, put the wraps on a 4-8 season.

A year later, the Hawkeyes are 1-1 in November with two more chances to make an overachieving 6-4 record even better.

“In pro football, you better be good in December,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Wednesday. “In college football, if you’re going to have a good team you’ve got to win in November.”

After opening the month with a 28-9 loss to Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes rebounded with a 24-point victory at Purdue that made them bowl-eligible for the 12th time in 15 years under Ferentz.

After a bye week, Iowa finishes the regular season at home against Michigan Nov. 23 and at Nebraska Nov. 29.

“We’ve improved as well,” Ferentz said. “Is it enough to win the last two? Time will tell.”

Iowa hasn’t had a winning record in November since 2008, when it went 3-1. The Hawkeyes were 4-11 in November between 2009 and 2012.

“Coach (Greg) Davis has a saying that, ‘November is what they remember,’” starting right offensive tackle Brett Van Sloten said. “It’s a time when people separate themselves. We have a great opportunity in front of us.”

Van Sloten said everyone in the program has a bounce in their step that was missing a season ago.

“It’s a little more upbeat,” Van Sloten said. “We put (last season) in the past and are paving our own way this year.”

The Hawkeyes are ranked 11th nationally in total defense. Iowa is allowing 319.2 yards a game, compared to 381.6 last season. The Hawkeyes are 13th in scoring defense (18.7), tied for 12th in passing yards allowed (189.2) and 26th in rushing defense (130).

All those areas are an improvement statistically from a year ago.

“I feel like we’ve got a little bit of momentum, I feel like we’re getting better,” linebacker James Morris said. “We still have a ways to go.”

More progress is there for the taking in November.

“We’ve worked hard to put ourselves in a position where the games matter,” Morris said.

Iowa is 76th nationally in total offense at 397.9 yards a game. That’s an increase from 310.4 last season.

“The big thing is trying to tie it all together and find a way to come up with more of a push offensively,” Ferentz said. “At times, we’re doing things really well. At times, we’re not as cohesive. If we’re going to have a chance in these last two games, we’ve got to find a way to pull it all together.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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