Klug to serve as honorary captain

BY MATT CABEL | OCTOBER 25, 2013 5:00 AM

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Iowa and Northwestern both enter Saturday’s matchup in Kinnick Stadium with 4-3 records, but how each team reached that mark are different stories.

Iowa started the season with a last-second loss before it won four in a row — including a road win at Minnesota to open its Big Ten season. The team followed that game with back-to-back losses to Michigan State and Ohio State.

The Wildcats, on the other hand, opened with a 4-0 nonconference showing before opening the Big Ten season with three-straight losses. The Wildcats lost to Minnesota last weekend — the only Big Ten opponent the Hawkeyes have beaten this season in conference play.

“I thought our effort was good; I thought our preparation was good last week,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “The point there is we have to carry that forward — it can’t be a once-in-a-while thing if you’re in conference play, you have to be that way every week. It’s a different challenge this weekend, but an equally big challenge for us.”

The Wildcats have been hampered with injuries early in the season. Star running back Venric Mark has been listed as out with an ankle injury suffered against Wisconsin on Oct.12. Quarterback Kain Colter has also been hampered with an ankle injury, but he is listed as day-to-day. He plans on playing against Iowa, even if he’s not 100 percent.

“Colter is a very elusive quarterback, like we saw last week [with Braxton Miller],” safety Tanner Miller said. “I’m not sure if he’s going to play right now or not, but we have to prepare for both [he and Trevor Simeon]. One is more of a drop-back passer kind of guy, but I don’t think that will change their game plan a whole lot. They’ll continue to do the same things they’ve been doing all season.”

The injury report isn’t causing the Hawkeyes to approach the Wildcats any differently. If anything, they’re preparing more because of the uncertainty regarding Colter.

“They’re still a good team,” defensive lineman Carl Davis said. “They have a good quarterback — he can throw the deep ball, he can make good plays, also. This is a team we have to play tough still. Everybody’s looking for a win in the Big Ten right now.”

Ferentz said Tuesday that his defense needs to bounce back after the Oct. 19 loss to Ohio State, where numerous big plays turned into scoring drives for the Buckeyes on their way to a 34-24 victory.

“You have to, because we have five tough games in front of us,” Ferentz said about improving the defense. “So you have to. You’ve got to get ready for the next challenge. They will. We’ve got quality guys.”

Despite the two-game skid, and despite giving up big plays on defense and costly fourth-quarter turnovers, linebacker James Morris believes in the Iowa football team, saying there are still things the team will accomplish on the field before the end of the season.

“We’re 4-3; we’re not setting the world on fire,” Morris said. “At the same time, everybody on this team believes that if we continue to improve, continue to get better, and continue to play hard and come closer together as a team, we believe there’s a lot left out there for us to achieve.”

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