Hawkeyes hope road woes are behind them


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The Iowa football team has been on the road three times this year. It returned to Iowa City with a loss each time.

First came the triple-overtime heartbreaker at Iowa State. Then, the Black and Gold offense struggled to put points on the board against Penn State. The Hawkeyes let a 11-point, fourth-quarter lead slip away in Minneapolis and lost to Minnesota for the second year in a row.

In all, the team hasn't won on the road since it beat Indiana last November — and it hasn't won convincingly away from Kinnick Stadium since a 10-point victory over Michigan on Oct. 16, 2010.

The team will soon have to face those struggles head-on if it wants to lock down a bowl bid; both of Iowa's last two games will be in hostile stadiums. The Black and Gold travel to Purdue (5-5, 3-3) this week before closing the season at Nebraska (8-2, 4-2) the day after Thanksgiving.

Just because Iowa is bowl-eligible doesn't mean the team will automatically make a trip come December or January. The Big Ten can send as many as eight teams to bowls, and it already has enough eligible squads to fill each spot. But both Purdue and 5-5 Northwestern are a win away from the magic six victories, and it's entirely possible that Iowa could get passed over should the Boilermakers and Wildcats be more impressive down the stretch.

"There's still a lot to play for," wide receiver Marvin McNutt said. "There are bowls out there that you want to fight for. The way the Big Ten has been going this year, you don't know what's going to happen."

Unlike Iowa's previous three trips, it won't have momentum on its side against the Boilermakers. The team was coming off a big win as it entered each of its three road losses; this time, though, the Hawkeyes' most recent on-field memories will be from their sloppy 37-21 loss to Michigan State on Nov. 12.

Quarterback James Vandenberg said that could actually help as he prepares to travel to West Lafayette, Ind., for the Purdue game.

"We have to put this behind us," Vandenberg said on Nov. 12. "This was a tough loss, and it starts with [Sunday] watching this film, getting a lot of things corrected, I'm sure … We have two good teams left to play, and we're going to need our best to get a win in either of those games."

That's especially true for Vandenberg, who has been a different quarterback away from Kinnick. The redshirt junior hasn't won on the road since he was in high school.

Senior defensive end Broderick Binns said he was able to pinpoint what has caused the issues so far this season.

"It's just coming out and starting fast," he said. "Every road game, we didn't start fast at all. We came out and probably got hit in the mouth a little bit."

The remedy, he said, is practice — specifically, getting off to a good start and not looking back.
Marcus Coker agreed.

"[There's] nowhere to go but up," the sophomore tailback said on Nov. 12. "Two games left. We can't linger on this loss. We have to move forward."

DI Pregame editor Jordan Garretson contributed to this article.

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