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November will determine Hawkeyes’ success

BY SCOTT MILLER | NOVEMBER 03, 2010 7:30 AM

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For a brief moment Tuesday afternoon, Ken O’Keefe wasn’t studying film of Indiana’s defense. With his glasses on and scotch tape in hand, the Iowa offensive coordinator hung a quote in the first-floor hallway of the Hayden Fry Football Complex.

It read: “Everyone will remember what we do in November.”

Indeed, it’s that time of year for the No. 15 Hawkeyes, who likely need an undefeated final month of the season to remain in the Big Ten title picture. Coming off a 37-6 win over then-No. 5 Michigan State, Iowa (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) knows the most important part of its season lies ahead.

Hence the sign.

Ferentz’s squads are 6-4 in November the last three seasons.

Tight end Allen Reisner seemed aware of the month’s significance, saying Tuesday, “We’ve definitely got to start making plays, and we need to start winning. If you lose late, that hurts your BCS standings and all that stuff that helps you go to bowls.”

Head coach Kirk Ferentz said, “If you’re going to have a good team and have a good season, you have to play well in November. I think that goes without saying. We’ll find out where we’re at in … three and a half weeks.”

Though records indicate otherwise, it won’t be an easy three and a half weeks for Ferentz & Co. Only one home game remains — and that’s against No. 8 Ohio State. The three other contests are away from Kinnick Stadium, starting Saturday against Indiana.

The Hoosiers are one of two winless teams in conference play — the other being Minnesota, which the Hawkeyes will play on Nov. 27. Also, a tricky matchup at Northwestern awaits Iowa in two weeks. The Wildcats are 6-2 and nearly tripped up Michigan State at home on Oct. 23.

It’s not unfeasible to think Ferentz’s squad will be favored in all of its remaining games — a possibility that means little to defensive tackle Mike Daniels. When asked Tuesday about if there was a different mindset in November, the junior took a comical approach.

“It does get colder outside in November. Thanksgiving is coming up. I might possibly see my family from Jersey. Might practice in the Bubble,” he joked. “That’s the point I’m making: It doesn’t matter. It’s another game. You have to approach it the same way.

“You have to block out everything, and ignore the rhetoric, and just get to work.”

Nielsen out ‘weeks’

Ferentz said it’s a matter of weeks — not days — before linebacker Tyler Nielsen (neck) will be able to play. Nielsen had started all of Iowa’s first eight games at outside linebacker. Ross Petersen — a fifth-year senior walk-on who played last week against Michigan State — could get the start.

“It’s a tough loss for us,” the head coach said. “First and foremost, it’s tough on Tyler. As an individual he wants to play out there; it means an awful lot to him. He’s going to be out for a while. We have to try to get through that. It’s tough. We’ll just see what happens here.”

Parker won’t travel

Norm Parker was in the press box for Iowa’s Oct. 30 game against Michigan State, marking the first time since Sept. 4 the defensive coordinator was at a Hawkeye game. Ferentz said Tuesday that Parker won’t travel this weekend to Bloomington, Ind.

The head coach said Parker is about “five to eight days” away from leaving a Cedar Rapids rehabilitation center. Parker’s recovering from having his right foot amputated in late September.

“It’ll be good to get him back here,” Ferentz said. “It’s coming soon, I think.”


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