If Iowa wants to have any chance of contending for the Big Ten Legends Division, Saturday’s game at Indiana is practically a must-win. Same goes for the Hoosiers if they want to have a chance to play for a Big Ten title.
Neither the Hoosiers (3-5, 1-3) nor the Hawkeyes (4-4, 2-2) are happy with the way they are playing.
“I’m concerned about everything right now,” Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Offense, defense, specials teams and just how we play collectively. That’s our task.”
Iowa has lost two straight and is coming off a 28-17 loss to Northwestern in which running back Mark Weisman suffered a leg injury. Ferentz said Weisman has been taken off the depth chart this week.
The Hoosiers are coming off their first Big Ten win since beating Purdue in 2010. They beat Illinois last week, 31-17, to snap an 11-game Big Ten losing streak.
It was a win, but Indiana coach Kevin Wilson called it one of the Hoosiers’ worst performances.
“Of course it was nice that we got a win, but there are a lot of things that we need to clean up on,” Wilson said. “We had some good performances, but there are some things that we need to continue to polish if we’re going to have a chance this week and down the stretch with these remaining four games in the league.”
The rest of the way won’t be easy.
Indiana will host Wisconsin next week. The Badgers have a bye this weekend and if the Hoosiers knock off Iowa, they have a chance to tie Wisconsin in the division. Then the Hoosiers go on the road to Penn State and Purdue.
Indiana is just trying to improve day by day, a common theme since Wilson took over the program.
“We’re pushing them to improve daily and when we’ve had some shortcomings,” Wilson said. “We wanted them to keep coming, and now we’ve had a positive, but let’s not look with rose-colored glasses. Let’s look and see where our timing is off in the pass game, our protection can be better, perimeter blocking, backside reach blocking, missed tackles, getting off blocks. We created some plays, but we also missed some plays defensively. So that’s been our thing.”
The Hawkeyes host Purdue next week, but then go on the road to Michigan and host Nebraska.
But first, it starts with Indiana.
“Going to Indiana, they are a team that’s really playing well,” Ferentz said. “They’re coming off a good win. It was on the road, obviously. But maybe even more impressive, just the way they’ve played in general and how they’ve played in their losses.”
The Hoosiers have scored 24 or more points each game this season.
Iowa has won the last four meetings against the Hoosiers, including a 45-24 win last season.