Woah, we’re almost halfway there.

As the 3-2 Hawkeyes gear up for their sixth game of the season against Illinois, they’re also fast approaching their bye week. After traveling to Champaign to take on the Fighting Illini, the Hawkeyes have a break before playing the remaining six games on their schedule. Head coach Kirk Ferentz has emphasized to his team since opening kickoff: Focus on playing to the bye.

“Coach Ferentz has been telling us since week one that it’s a six-week season, it’s like split up six games and six games,” senior defensive lineman Noah Shannon said.

Spencer Petras shared a similar message:

“Every year coach Ferentz talks about the bye week — you have two seasons essentially — and right now is four days left until kick. We have our four-day season right now.”

Linebacker Jack Campbell doesn’t care about when the bye week is, he just wants to win at all costs.

“If you’re in that building and it matters to you, I feel like every game is a must-win game,” Campbell said. “No matter when the bye week is, every time we step foot on the field it’s a must-win game.”

Ferentz himself addressed the idea his players shared. He thinks there’s a value to winning heading into a bye, and compares it to another game leading into a layoff.

“It’s like winning a bowl game.” Ferentz said at today’s presser. “It’s a lot better to go to the offseason after a victory. There is no downside to winning games ever that I can think of. And there’s really not much upside from losing.”

Following the break they’ll begin their final six-game stretch on the road in Columbus against No. 3 Ohio State.

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