Iowa Football

Iowa football Depth Chart Monday: They better run out the grounder

Iowa travels to Illinois for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff on Saturday

Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz (right) talks with San Diego Bowl Game Association committee member Jeremy Crickard (left) and Gary Rectenwald (center) member of the Holiday Bowl board of directors before the Hawkeyes' Big Ten Conference college football game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa, on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz (right) talks with San Diego Bowl Game Association committee member Jeremy Crickard (left) and Gary Rectenwald (center) member of the Holiday Bowl board of directors before the Hawkeyes' Big Ten Conference college football game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa, on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

The Hawkeyes are in complete and total “what bowl” mode.

For what that’s worth, there’s always a chance Iowa (6-4, 3-4 Big Ten) knows its bowl destination before the big selection show on Dec. 2. Big Ten bowls begin on Dec. 26 with the Quick Lane Bowl (Detroit, Mich.) and the Heart of Dallas Bowl. The Music City Bowl (Dec. 28 in Nashville, Tenn.) is a possibility.

Iowa could be in line for a New Year’s Eve bowl. On Dec. 31, the Big Ten has the Redbox Bowl (San Francisco) and the Holiday Bowl (San Diego).

Those bowls have some restriction within the Big Ten when it comes to win/loss record. Also, the Holiday Bowl puts more weight on the conference record. It also wants to see a school that wants to be there.

Iowa has played in three Holiday Bowls (1986-87, 1991). In 2010, former Iowa head coach Hayden Fry was inducted into the Holiday Bowl hall of fame.

The Holiday Bowl saw Iowa fall last Saturday to Northwestern, so who knows where things stand now.

The Holiday is on a tier with the Citrus and the Outback. Each bowl will be asked for a top four and then the conference goes matchup shopping.

So ... probably something in the range of the Music City, Redbox and Holiday Bowls.

Not quite a month ago, the Hawkeyes were 6-1 and ranked as high as No. 18 in the country. The last three weeks have been a crash.

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Still, the season isn’t over and if Iowa doesn’t dispatch Illinois (4-6, 2-5) and Nebraska (3-7, 2-5), which has won three of its last four, the angst that spilled out into news conferences and keyboards and social media after Saturday's loss to Northwestern will be remembered as a time of peace and good will.

— Iowa’s season finale against Nebraska will kick off 11 a.m. at Kinnick Stadium on Friday, Nov. 23. TV will be Fox.

— Tight end Noah Fant finished the Northwestern game with one catch for no yards, three targets and 32 snaps.

During the postgame, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz was asked why Fant wasn’t playing as much.

“I think we try to feature our guys that are doing the best, whether it’s (tight end) T.J. (Hockenson), Noah, our receivers,” Ferentz said. “No, I mean we’re calling the game as we call the game and practice the situations we’re practicing.”

Hockenson caught four passes for 64 yards in 61 snaps. He leads the Hawkeyes with 39 receptions and 615 receiving yards (15.77 per catch).

Fant is second on the Hawkeyes with 35 catches for 453 yards and leads Iowa with six TD receptions.

— After Purdue, defensive coordinator Phil Parker went back to cornerbacks Michael Ojemudia and Matt Hankins.

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Ojemudia lost track of the ball on Clayton Thorson’s fourth-quarter TD pass to wide receiver Ben Skowronek, who made a diving catch before the ball hit the turf for the 14-10 lead with 9:27 left in the game. Other than that, Iowa allowed just 122 passing yards and picked off two passes.

Purdue’s passing game is much more lethal than Northwestern’s. That’s just a fact.

Ojemudia and Hankins replaced Riley Moss and Julius Brents. Moss played four snaps in dime situations. Brents didn’t play.

— Djimon Colbert and Jack Hockaday took the majority of inside linebacker snaps. Iowa remains in a nickel mode, with safety Amani Hooker, who had a sack and a pass breakup, playing 79 snaps and outside linebacker Nick Niemann at 13.

— Sophomore Mekhi Sargent has emerged as the starter at running back. He played 38 snaps vs. Northwestern. Ivory Kelly-Martin came in at 21 and Toren Young had eight.

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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