Hawkeyes focused on reclaiming Floyd of Rosedale


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When Hawkeye players walk through the Hayden Fry Football Complex, there's something missing — a few things, actually.

There's no bull, no pig, and no Cy-Hawk Trophy.

Iowa is without any of its three rivalry trophies after losing its most recent meetings with Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa State.

Saturday's matchup with the Golden Gophers (1-6, 0-3 Big Ten) in Minneapolis — slated for a 2:42 p.m. kickoff on the Big Ten Network — gives the Hawkeyes (5-2, 2-1) an opportunity to win back Floyd of Rosedale. Minnesota claimed the 98.3-pound bronze pig last year for the first time since 2007 with a 27-24 upset.

"We want the pig this year," offensive guard Adam Gettis said. "We want to run over and take it from them."

Players still struggled Tuesday to muster an explanation for the Hawkeyes' 27-24 loss last year. Minnesota entered that game 1-11.

"People can say guys got hurt. The weather was harsh," cornerback Shaun Prater said, shaking his head "… I don't know."

"I'm not sure. I couldn't tell you what happened," senior end Broderick Binns said. "It seemed like we had a great week of practice."

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz offered a straightforward explanation.

"For the 60 minutes the game went on, they beat us in every phase possible, including coaching," he said. "They got the job done; we didn't.

"… I just hope it doesn't happen again."

Defense wants to get off the field

There's no magic solution for Iowa's third-down defense, Jordan Bernstine said.

"Whatever defense coach calls, we just have to go out and execute it," the senior safety said.

It hasn't been nearly that simple for the Hawkeyes this season. Iowa is allowing opponents to convert nearly 51 percent of their third downs, the worst rate in the Big Ten. That deficiency has also translated into a 32:18-27:42 time of possession disadvantage for the Hawkeyes.

The issue hasn't appeared to improve much in recent weeks. Iowa allowed its last two opponents — Indiana and Northwestern — to convert a combined 63.8 percent (23-of-36) of their third downs.

"I would say if we're looking for one thing to start with, the makeable third downs," Ferentz said. "Third-and-longs, third-and-mediums, where our personnel should be getting off the field. We have to do a better job there."

Hawkeyes hope for returns from injury

Ferentz mentioned Keenan Davis' name among a group of "eight or 10" players who are "banged up." The junior receiver left the game against Indiana on Oct. 22 with a sprained ankle, and Ferentz said Iowa would "see how the week goes with those guys" before deciding their availability to play at Minnesota.

The 13th-year coach was optimistic that three injured defenders — tackle Tom Nardo and linebackers Tyler Nielsen and Anthony Hitchens — will be able to play. Nielsen (hand) missed the Indiana game, and Nardo (knee) has missed two straight. Hitchens (knee) hasn't played since Sept. 24.

Iowa is taking a wait-and-see approach with Mika'il McCall. The true freshman running back was medically cleared to play last week after breaking his ankle in the season-opener.

"It's a matter of how quickly he can get caught up and how good he feels," Ferentz said. "There's a big difference between being cleared medically and really being able to play."

Follow DI Pregame Editor Jordan Garretson on Twitter.

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