116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — More than a month before the first snap of the 2022 Iowa football season, the Big Ten’s video production staff asked Kirk Ferentz and other Big Ten coaches about the most overrated statistic.
Answers included time of possession and penalties.
Ferentz? “Probably offensive yardage, in my opinion.”
The video, released the day before Iowa’s 9-6 loss to Illinois, may not have been the best timing for a fan base frustrated in the midst of a three-game losing skid.
One fan said in a tweet Iowa was “beyond parody at this point,” and the tweet gained more than 100 likes.
Fast-forward seven weeks, and Ferentz’s offensive yardage comment seems much less like parody and more like an unconventional way of winning.
For the last two games, Iowa has finished with a yardage deficit of at least 80, yet the Hawkeyes won both games.
Wisconsin had a 227-146 advantage in total yards, but Iowa won by 14. Then Minnesota had a 399-280 advantage in total yards, but Iowa won by three.
“At the end of the day it's about figuring out a way to win the game,” Ferentz said. “My thoughts haven't changed a lot in 23 years. It started well before that.
“You're thinking about what is it that's important. … We're all shaped by our past, the people I've been around, have had the good fortune to work with have impacted me a lot in terms of the way I look at the game.”
Winning despite losing the yardage battle is not entirely unique to the Hawkeyes. Ohio State, Michigan State and Indiana have all overcome yardage deficits to win games this month.
It sure helps to have more yards than the opponent, though.
Big Ten teams are 14-7 this month when having the advantage in total yards.
Since the start of the 2021 season, Iowa is 10-1 when outgaining its opponent in yardage. When the Hawkeyes’ opponents have the advantage in total yards, Iowa is 7-7.
“I'm not against it, first of all, just for the record,” Ferentz said when asked about his choice of overrated stat.
“Bill Russell said the most important stat is winning and losing,” Ferentz said. “That's the most important one.
“The next most important one in my opinion is turnovers and takeaways, if you're looking over the long haul. That's where it all starts.”
When Iowa has won the turnover margin this year, it is 6-1. When Iowa ties or loses the turnover margin, it is 1-3.