As Iowa gears up for this week’s game against Rutgers, the Hawkeyes know the intensity only goes up from here. For the first time this season the Hawkeyes are set to leave the confines of Kinnick Stadium and travel across the country to play in a hostile environment.

According to Spencer Petras, Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz turned to greek mythology to motivate his team.

“There is this story of Sparta where they would all eat together and on the wall it says, ‘Outside of this room there is nothing,'” Petras said. “I think it’s fitting because it’s literally you, it’s your guys, it’s your coaches — it’s just our program and everyone else is hostile. It can be really fun.”

“You do feel almost like a gladiator, it’s just you and your guys.”

The mindset is one thing, the actual materialistic implications of playing an in-conference road game are another. Lineman Mason Richman talked about the challenges communicating.

“Just speak louder, that’s just all it is,” Richman put it simply. “When you get to the line of scrimmage, calls have to be a little bit louder. Everyone’s gonna be on the same page.”

While circumstances may be a bit more challenging for the offense, the defense may benefit from a reduction in noise. Defensive lineman Logan Lee seemed excited for a chance to communicate more effectively at the line of scrimmage.

“They’re quiet for the offense right?” Lee joked. “I enjoy them. It’s a way different way being able to hear some of the defensive calls little bit better.”

Receiver Nico Ragaini is very familiar with the energy SHI Stadium in New Jersey brings — he grew up less than three hours away and has over 70 family members set to attend the game.

“They’ve got some crazy fans,” Ragaini admitted.

The fifth year senior is also the most experienced Hawkeye at a position that lacks it. But his expectations of that room haven’t changed and he said he’s been preparing them for this moment. With Keagan Johnson questionable to play Saturday, the passing game is going to rely heavily on Ragaini, along with freshmen Alec Wick and Brody Brecht. His message is to be ready no matter the circumstances.

“Just focusing on each day,” Ragaini said. “There are a lot of young guys in the group and maybe a couple weeks ago they weren’t expected to play, but now they expect to play with some of the injuries that are happening.”

Expectations aren’t changing anytime soon. The following week Iowa returns to Kinnick Stadium to play No. 4 ranked Michigan in what may be the most daunting task of the season. The Big Ten is just getting underway, but the Iowa Hawkeyes are up for the challenge.

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