Hawkeyes refocus after big win


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After Iowa’s one-point home loss to Wisconsin on Oct. 23, Adrian Clayborn called out his teammates’ effort, saying, “Whatever we’re doing in practice on the players’ side, it’s not working. We need to change things around.”

A week later, the 6-4, 285-pound defense end’s postgame interviews had a much different tone. It helped, of course, that the Hawkeyes had just beaten fifth-ranked Michigan State, 37-6. Clayborn was all smiles following Iowa’s most dominating defense performance of the season.

Perhaps most importantly, he was pleased with the team’s effort in practice. Fellow defenders Christian Ballard and Tyler Sash echoed Clayborn’s sentiments.

As head coach Kirk Ferentz said, “Losses tend to do that to you, just like wins can dull your senses sometimes, too. Again, that’s just one of those battles you’re always facing, always fighting. We made some improvement this week.”

That battle will continue this week when No. 15 Iowa (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) travels to Bloomington, Ind., to play Indiana (4-4, 0-4). The kickoff is set for 11:01 a.m.

The Hoosiers have struggled in Big Ten play, losing all of their four games. Indiana fell, 20-17, to Northwestern on Oct. 30, despite quarterback Ben Chappell’s fifth 300-yard passing day of the season.

Chappell — who is seventh in the Football Bowl Subdivision in passing yards with 2,445 — has a bum left ankle/foot. When talking with reporters Monday, his foot was in a boot.

The quarterback spearheads Indiana’s potent pistol offense. The Hoosiers’ 29.4 points per game rank sixth in the conference.

Indeed, Indiana’s offense isn’t the reason for its winless Big Ten record. Most of the blame for that falls on its defense, which is in the lower half of the conference in every significant defensive statistic.

Coming off his fifth-consecutive performance with more than 100 total yards, Iowa running back Adam Robinson will face the Big Ten’s second-to-last rushing defense.

“To us, we’re not going to say [the Michigan State game] is a statement because there’s a lot of football left,” Stanzi said. “In this conference, it’s not easy to win. Any week, any team can lose.”

No one should understand that better than the Hawkeyes, who have two losses by a combined eight points. Special-teams mishaps have been largely responsible for those defeats — something that all but disappeared against Michigan State.

Iowa will have to keep similar slip-ups from happening this week in Bloomington to stay in the Big Ten title race.

“You know, you’ve got a 12-game schedule,” Ferentz said. “You’ve got to play them all. It’s sometimes easier said than done. It will be a challenge this week, too, [after a] big win.”

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