The Hawkeyes are no strangers to the opening game upset.
Most notably in 2016 the 13th ranked Hawks fumbled a 7-point lead at Kinnick to the North Dakota State Bison in a heartbreaking 23-21 defeat.
While Iowa is 9-1 against FCS opponents over the past 15 seasons, Kirk Ferentz wants to make sure that one loss doesn’t happen again. In his 24th season coaching the Hawkeyes, he didn’t take the bait of overlooking their first opponent in 2022.
“We’re playing a really good football team and a good football program in South Dakota State,” Ferentz said. “One thing I always remind our team — there’s nothing easy about winning football games, especially in college football and never has been, never will be. That’s just kind of the way it goes. but I think that that’s something our guys need to understand. I just think it’s paramount in competition. You’re trying to do something successful. It’s certainly not easy. There’s no easy route to it, period.”
That message has resonated in the Hawkeye locker room. Starting quarterback Spencer Petras says this has been the message all week.
“I think coach Ferentz has done an outstanding job of painting whatever picture he deems appropriate,” said the senior signal caller. “I wouldn’t even say this week it’s painting a picture — like this is a good football team. They’ve had a ton of success the last couple years. There’s no mindset at all of ‘an FCS team, we can just throw it out there and get a win.’ This is going to be a hard-fought game.”
Fellow seniors Logan Lee and Riley Moss heard the noise, too. They’re not biting either.
“We are very, very aware of how good of a team this is,” Lee said. “A lot of people on the outside have said that it’s an FCS school, right? But this is a very competent, very capable team.”
Week 1 team captain Riley Moss says he has plenty of respect for teams from the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
“They don’t get the credit that they deserve,” Moss said. “They’re really hard working and they’ll come and hit you in the mouth. It doesn’t really matter who you are. Our team has respect for them as I hope they respect us as well.”
Respect or not, the Hawkeyes know they have their work cut out for them. A loss to the Jackrabbits would all but remove them from playoff consideration down the road. A team loaded with talented seniors and mature leaders know that it’s hard to win games, in or out of conference.