IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa continued annoying and proving wrong national pundits who feel it’s a fraud with Saturday’s 35-27 win at Indiana. Dealing blows to the doubters has become an added bonus in the victories.
“All I can say is that if we win out there’s nothing they can do about it,” Cornerback Desmond King said. “That’s out goal taking it week by week to prove them wrong and just win out.”
The Hawkeyes have matched the best start in school history with a 9-0 mark. They’re 5-0 in the Big Ten and No. 9 in the College Football Playoffs Rankings, which will be updated Tuesday. They were likely to rise in that with the losses of some teams previously ahead of them.
Reece Davis and David Pollack from the four-letter network were in agreement that Iowa belonged behind Memphis after last week’s CFPR was released. Davis picked Indiana to beat Iowa. Then, Memphis lost 45-20 at home against Navy Saturday.
“We’re always going to have that. They’ll probably say that the (Indiana) score is pretty close,” Iowa Receiver Tevaun Smith said. “But we’re just going to continue to win. A win is a win. We’ll take it. Now we’re just going to have to worry about Minnesota. They’re a pretty good team. They almost beat Michigan.”
The Hawkeyes plays host to Minnesota in the Battle for Floyd of Rosedale Saturday (7 p.m. CT, BTN). A victory against the 4-5 Golden Gophers likely won’t convince Iowa detractors it’s for real.
“I kind of like that stuff. I kind of like the negative noise,” Linebacker Josey Jewell said. “But you shouldn’t listen to it too much, even the good noise. We’ve just got to stay focused on what our job is and what we’ve got to do and not listen to anybody else.”
Perhaps the pundits influence the public, who according to a CBS Poll, picked the Hoosiers to beat Iowa at a 76 percent clip. Of course, three of the seven “experts” on the site chose IU, including old friend of the program, Dennis Dodd.
Loudmouth Radio Host Colin Cowerd was appalled by Iowa’s inclusion in the Top 10 of the CFPR last week.
Committee did ok. Michigan State too low. Iowa at 9 too high. I have them at 34.
— Colin Cowherd (@ColinCowherd) November 4, 2015
“People can say what they want but we control our own destiny and we’re exactly where we want to be,” Linebacker Cole Fisher said. “If you keep winning, people have to stop saying that stuff eventually, you’d think, but…”
Iowa has matched the 2009 Hawkeyes’ record for best start in program history because the players have followed the lead of their coaches. Head man Kirk Ferentz has continued to deliver the same message publicly whenever he’s asked about the lack of respect for his team.
“It wouldn’t be kind if I say that I laugh. I’m entertained by some things every now and then,” he said about outsiders questioning his squad. “I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it, quite frankly. I think the reason we’ve been able to get to 9-0 is the guys have done a great job of staying focused on what’s in front of us. That’s really all you can control. I know it sounds cliche and all that but it’s really the truth.
“The trick is when the altitude gets a little bit higher keeping the guys’ thoughts where they need to be, their preparation where it needs to be, their attention where it needs to be. I’d love to take credit for that, too, but that just gets back to our leadership base. Our players are doing a great job. They expect each other to practice well. They expect each other to watch tape and they’re accountable to each other. Good teams have that. I’m just really proud of them.
“It gets trickier at every turn but at the end of the day you have to win the next game. That’s what it’s all about.”
As Ferentz said, the approach is dismissed as cliche but he also says there’s a lot of truth in cliches. He’s right. And his players live that message. They recognize the disrespect but use it for motivation and to stay on task.
“We know what we’re capable of,” Safety Jordan Lomax said. “We know that we’re a good football team, internally, and we just try not to let any of that external stuff get to us. We just know we’ve got to keep on playing Iowa football and if we keep winning games they can’t say anything.”
A main reason why some of the talking heads can’t accept Iowa as a playoff contender stems from their pre-season expectations. They’re convinced the Hawkeyes will slip up because they didn’t think they’d be here in the first place.
I’m not on my high horse here, either. I’m on record before the season having Iowa coming in at 7-5. But I’m also not so self-absorbed to ignore what’s happening on the field. I have no problem acknowledging that Oklahoma State has earned its way into the discussion despite not being Baylor or TCU.
The Hawkeyes have honed the right approach. Just win, baby.
HOOPS HYSTERIA: Iowa’s 76-74 exhibition loss at the buzzer to Division II Augustana Friday night came on the heels of a less-than inspiring performance against Sioux Falls in its previous practice game. It’s created some unrest in the fan base.
I won’t dismiss the concern. When you lose players of Roy Devyn Marble and Aaron White’s caliber in consecutive seasons, one can legitimately wonder who the next leader will be.
Coach Fran McCaffery said on media day that he doesn’t see this being one player’s team. He thought it would be more of a group effort.
That can be tricky. It also can take time for some sort of hierarchy to emerge. Somebody must take the big shot in crunch time but just becoming cohesive with roles on both ends of the floor takes time when you lack a main leader.
Add to that there are seven players (Isaiah Moss will redshirt) that will play in their first real college game Friday night against Gardner Webb and you have a work in progress. It’s a first for McCaffery, he said.
I still think this team boasts enough talent to be an NCAA tournament team. It’s going to need a few guys to emerge and lead with their play. I think Peter Jok and Mike Gesell are showing that through the exhibition season. More consistent and controlled aggressive play is needed from Adam Woodbury and Jarrod Uthoff.
-On the topic of Moss red shirting, it just makes sense. He’s behind after missing summer workouts and McCaffery can’t logistically play a 14-man rotation. Moss is a late-bloomer and could really benefit from a year of development. Brandon Hutton should consider following the lead of his fellow Chicagoan for the same reason.
-The Missouri football team’s willingness to stand up for what it perceived to be a social injustice proved powerful as the president resigned on Monday. The hunger strike and other campus rallies helped, but athletes threatening to walk away and costing the university a lot of money carried more weight. Good for them. It’s their school, too, despite folks who feel these guys are just there to compete on Saturday’s.
-What a weekend coming up for Iowa athletics. As mentioned, the football team plays host to rival Minnesota in a sold out night game. Before that on Saturday at 11 a.m., wrestling will welcome Oklahoma State to Kinnick Stadium for the Grapple on the Gridiron, which is ready to set an attendance record. The men’s and women’s basketball teams tip off their seasons with doubleheaders on Friday night and Sunday afternoon inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
-Kirk Ferentz has locked up Big Ten Coach of the Year honors, right?
-Athletics Director Gary Barta used an in-state media outlet (or did the news agency use him?) to ask fans to buy tickets for the final home football game against Purdue next week. He requested Iowa backers send the seniors out the right way.
Iowa could help this effort with more than just words. The school owes it to these guys because of how their final season will aid future ticket sales. Think discount, especially for the North End Zone seats you’ve already admitted needed upgrading and for students.