Guarding against a post-bye week letdown is the top priority for Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes as they prepare for Middle Tennessee, especially with a trip to the Big House on the horizon.
“When you take a break, the danger of breaks is, okay, what’s it going to be like when we come off the break,” Ferentz said. “It just gets back to everybody involved taking the responsibility and making sure that they are doing what they are supposed to do.”
The Blue Raiders should command the Hawkeyes’ respect in the first ever meeting between the programs.
Iowa running back Mekhi Sargent says he was impressed by Middle Tennessee’s resiliency against Michigan earlier this season.
“As a team, we should expect the same thing,” Sargent said. “Them coming into Kinnick and giving us a really good fight.”
“If you watch them over the years, they show up and they play hard,” Ferentz said. “They play hard, they are well-coached and going on the road is not a big deal for them. They do that annually and they have had success doing that.”
There are two recent examples of Iowa overlooking a non-conference opponent: 2009 when they had to block two field goals to escape against Northern Iowa and 2016 when North Dakota State came to Iowa City and defeated the 13th-ranked Hawks.
“It’s not something that we can hide from,” Iowa sophomore linebacker Djimon Colbert said. “It’s games that have happened in our program. We gotta learn from that stuff because that’s what it comes down to after games like that happen. They’re just learning experiences for teams down the road.”
“Teams that are supposed to win on paper don’t always do that,” Iowa senior quarterback Nate Stanley said. “We know what we need to do and we know that these guys are going to come in and play extremely hard and be physical with us.”
Iowa has been on a roll in non-conference games as of late. The Hawkeyes have won 10 straight contests dating back to a loss to Florida in the 2017 Outback Bowl.
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