When Deacon Hill transferred to Iowa over the offseason, nobody could’ve predicted he’d be facing his former team in his second career collegiate start. But here we are — and Hill is set to lead the Hawkeyes into Madison to face Wisconsin.

Hill only appeared in one game as a redshirt freshman last season, and sought a change of scenery that Hawkeyes special assistant Jon Budmayr had a role in. Budmayr recruited Hill to Wisconsin, but never actually got to coach him. Their relationship led Hill to Iowa City.

But Hill’s doing his best to keep this game as normal as possible.

“I think there’ll be some nerves there,” Hill said. “I used to get nervous before every high school game, too, so I think it’ll be there.”

“It’s another game on the road. I’m focused on myself and what I could do to be better for this team. I’m excited to see my guys. It’s been a while, but I’m not going to make anything bigger than it is.”

Linebacker Jay Higgins said he noticed Hill spent a few extra minutes watching film on Monday, and had a message for his quarterback.

“Purdue didn’t want me,” Higgins revealed. “It was kind of the same situation for him at Wisconsin, so just a little motivation.”

Hill has struggled mightily in the first two games he has played meaningful snaps, completing 37.5% of his passes — worst in FBS play.

Now he’s up against a defense that’s allowed just 30 points overall through two Big Ten games. It’ll be a challenge for an offense ranked second to last in yards per game.

“If teams see something he struggles with, they’ll probably do it again,” left tackle Mason Richman said. “It’s a great opportunity for him and a great challenge this weekend against Wisconsin. I’m really excited to go over there with him.”

“I haven’t given it a lot of great thought,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He played there, but it wasn’t like he played a lot. In fact, he didn’t play at all as far as I know. I don’t know that there’s some kind of sentimental or emotional deal going on. I don’t think so. I think he’s just happy to be here and not that he’s not happy to be there, but he’s happy to be here and he’s looking forward.”

Hill’s got the support of his teammates and coaches as they forge north to his old stomping grounds. A pivotal matchup against a great defense and a formidable opponent await.

Either way, Hill and his teammates aren’t focused on revenge — or at least that’s what it appears.

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Iowa quarterback Deacon Hill (10) looks to pass during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Michigan State, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 26-16. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)