Iowa Football

Iowa takes its turn in Big Ten's Friday night football schedule at Minnesota

Hawkeyes face quick turnaround in battle for Floyd of Rosedale

Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz watches warm-ups at an Iowa Hawkeyes football game with the Michigan State Spartan
Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz watches warm-ups at an Iowa Hawkeyes football game with the Michigan State Spartans at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Friday Night Lights? Whether you like it or not, yeah, it’s Friday Night Lights this week for the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Iowa and Minnesota play for Floyd of Rosedale at 6:05 p.m. at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

This one originally was supposed to be played in September. The new eight-game schedule pushed it back a couple of months but kept it on Friday.

“This is a short week,” said Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz at his Tuesday press conference via Zoom. “Last week was a little bit distorted with Tuesday being off. But this one is a short week calendar-wise. So we’ve got to turn the page quickly after watching the tape on Sunday and get right on Minnesota.”

Last week was strange, too, in that the NCAA made all teams sit out Tuesday because of Election Day. So essentially this is consecutive weeks of different preparation for both Iowa and Minnesota.

Football players are creatures of habit, and this kind of stuff takes them away from their habits.

“We just take advantage of every rep every day, like we do in every practice,” said Iowa receiver Brandon Smith. “Not wasting a rep, obviously saving our legs if we have to slow some stuff down. That’s where (good) reps come in. Just stay locked in, stay focused the entire practice.”

The Big Ten has been bullish the last handful of seasons on Friday night football. But Iowa hasn’t been involved, other than its annual Black Friday game against Nebraska.

Those have been afternoon games, not night games. This is a middle-of-the-season Friday tilt.

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“Well, when we were talking about playing (this season) after Thanksgiving or Christmas, it’s not like we would be playing every night of the week,” Ferentz said. “So I am happy we’re not doing that because that really is disruptive. I don’t know how you know what day is which, actually. Football teams tend to get into a rhythm, if you will. There’s a pattern to what we do in season, out of season, all that. But nothing’s been in sync this year since March.

“So it’s a perfect year to have more Friday nights or more unusual weeks. This would be, in a four-week block, we’ll have three weeks that are really kind of irregular, if you will. So it’s been a year of adjustment, a year of just trying to do what you think is best at that given moment, that given day.”

Iowa goes back to playing on Saturday next week, a game time at Penn State not yet announced. That will be an extra day of rest or preparation, whatever is decided.

Then it’s another short week with Black Friday at home against Nebraska.

“I think our tempo (this week) has been good,” Iowa linebacker Nick Niemann said on Tuesday. “I think we’ve had a lot of energy. We had a third-down period at the end of the practice today where I thought guys were really excited and into it on both sides. All we can do is that, and I think we’ve done a good job with that from what I’ve seen these first two days. We’ve only got two days of practice left, so we need (to continue) to do that moving forward as well.”

“I’m OK on Friday nights. It’s not that big a deal,” Ferentz said. “If it comes that way, that’s what it is, and TV’s going to enter and continue to enter more and more into our discussions on how we do things. So it’s probably fair to say we could play more Friday nights. My biggest reservation or objection to Friday nights is just interfering with high school football. I think that’s a paramount issue. It’s an adjustment we can make. But when you start influencing high school football, I think in a normal year, that’s probably not what we’re looking to do all the time.”

Iowa has won five games in a row against Minnesota, its longest victory streak in the rivalry. Minnesota’s last win over the Hawkeyes came in 2014, 51-14.

Sometime Friday night Floyd will be moved over to Minnesota’s football facility for a year, or he’ll be packed away going back to Iowa City.

“Everybody knows what this week means,” said Iowa defensive back Jack Koerner. “Everybody understands what Floyd means. When we do have a trophy in our building, we do display it in our weight room (the week of the game) as kind of a reminder that we’re not going out to defend the trophy, we’re going out to earn it. That’s definitely the point for this week. I think everybody understands that.”

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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