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Hawkeyes ready to hit the road

BY BRENDAN STILES | OCTOBER 13, 2009 7:20 AM

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Sitting at the halfway point, the No. 11 Iowa Hawkeyes can’t feel any better with a 6-0 overall record.

Most of their six victories haven’t come easily, though, and last weekend’s 30-28 win over Michigan at Kinnick Stadium was typical.

In fact, the outcome wasn’t certain until the final minute, when Iowa junior safety Brett Greenwood intercepted a pass from Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson.

The pick was one of five turnovers caused by the Hawkeyes on the evening, and one of four created by the defense.

They also came at critical junctures — whether it was Jeremiha Hunter picking off Michigan starting signal-caller Tate Forcier on the freshman’s first pass attempt, Brandon Minor fumbling right before halftime, or Greenwood’s interception coming with 46 seconds left in the game.

With the five turnovers accumulated on Oct. 10, the Hawkeyes have now generated 19 takeaways through six games.

“Our D-line did a good job of getting pressure on the quarterback, and everybody flying around, running to the ball, always helps,” senior linebacker Pat Angerer said.

What was even more astonishing was what the defense managed to do against the Wolverines’ spread offense. Of Michigan’s 45 rushing attempts, the Hawkeye defense gave up 195 yards on the ground and three touchdowns.

However, the longest run of the night by any Wolverine was a mere 12 yards.

“If you’re going to play good defense, it starts with not giving up the big play,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It wasn’t pretty. We gave up more yards on the ground than we would have liked to on the ground. But not giving up the big plays gives you a chance to fight in the next series.”

More hostility awaits

As Iowa looks toward the second half of its season, two road games at Wisconsin and Michigan State lie dead ahead.

One thing the Hawkeyes have found success in, however, is preparing for intense environments, such as the ones they’ll encounter at Camp Randall Stadium and Spartan Stadium.

Iowa has dealt with a rivalry game — on the road, no less — against Iowa State, faced a crowd of more than 100,000 at Penn State outfitted in white, and on Homecoming, played Michigan under the lights amid a sea of black.

While the Hawkeyes’ upcoming game with the Badgers may not be at night like Iowa’s first two conference games, the atmosphere created by Wisconsin’s 80,321-seat venue will prove difficult to overcome.

In addition to having the Heartland Trophy being on the line, the game will also be Wisconsin’s Homecoming contest.

“I think that’s what you want as a competitor — to go into a hostile environment,” sophomore safety Tyler Sash said. “We saw it at Penn State. That was a pretty hostile environment, and I think we handled it pretty well. But we’re excited about the challenge, and I can’t wait to get back to work.”

TV update

Officials announced on Monday that Iowa’s 11 a.m. contest against Wisconsin on Saturday will be televised by ESPN. Dave Pasch will do the play-by-play, and Bob Griese and Chris Spielman will provide color commentary.


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