IOWA CITY | That was then. This is now.
Iowa’s football team is attempting to forget about last season’s forgettable performance at Michigan as it prepares for Saturday’s 11 a.m. home finale at Kinnick Stadium.
The Wolverines handed the Hawkeyes a 42-17 loss a year ago at Michigan Stadium, piling up 513 yards and scoring 28 unanswered points in the second and third quarters to pull away from a 14-10 lead.
“Last year, we never even got hands up, particularly in that second quarter. It was over pretty quickly,’’ Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday. “They’ve got a lot of the same faces back from a year ago.’’
That includes elusive quarterback Devin Gardner, who threw for 314 yards against Iowa last season and has been the most productive passer in Big Ten play this season with an average of 268.3 yards per game.
The Hawkeyes, who have been distancing themselves from last season’s 4-8 record since last November, have put that experience in the rearview mirror.
“What happened that day is over with and all we can do is make sure that we do everything we can to make certain it doesn’t happen again,’’ Iowa safety Tanner Miller said. “This is a new season, a new week and the only thing that matters is Saturday.’’
Linebacker James Morris said that mantra has worked for this team.
“We’ve never gotten ahead of ourselves and we’ve never looked back,’’ Morris said.
That approach has helped the Hawkeyes compete.
Iowa is 6-4 and has put itself in a position to be invited to a bowl game next month, while Michigan at 7-3 has struggled to develop a rushing attack while splitting its first six Big Ten games.
Michigan State and Nebraska held the Wolverines to negative rushing yards before Michigan collected 187 yards on the ground last week at Northwestern despite the absence of starting running back Fitzgerald Toussaint in the triple-overtime win.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke said Toussaint was held out because a slight concussion limited his practice time a week ago. He is expected to return as Michigan seeks its first win at Iowa since 2005.
“They’ve had a few ups and downs, but you don’t have to look too far back to find some ups,’’ Ferentz said. “I can’t remember a Michigan team that wasn’t extremely talented. We’ve still got a lot of work to do on our end.’’
The Hawkeyes understand that.
“This team comes ready to work every day,’’ Miller said. “I think there was a realization last winter that we had to take that mindset and it has carried over to this point. We know that we’ll need another good week of work if we want to put ourselves in a position to have a chance to win this week.’’
- The Hawkeyes are generally in good health for this week’s match-up with Michigan.
Ferentz said starting tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz and cornerback B.J. Lowery, who both left the Nov. 9 game at Purdue because of injuries, returned to practice this week. Defensive end Dominic Alvis, absent the last three games because of a back injury, is now seeing limited practice time, but his availability will not be determined until later in the week.
- Iowa will honor 15 seniors prior to their final game at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, including nine starters. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 10:45 a.m.
- Approximately 4,000 tickets remain for Saturday’s game.