Iowa notched an epic victory over previously undefeated Michigan State last Saturday and now looks to avoid the hangover effect.
The No. 16 Hawkeyes go from facing what was the Big Ten's last undefeated team to playing a road game against an Indiana squad that hasn't won a conference game this season.
That fact prompts concern from Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. His squad is part of a four-team race for the Big Ten crown, and being upset by Indiana would remove the Hawkeyes (6-2, 3-1) from the race.
The Hoosiers (4-4, 0-4) gave the Hawkeyes a battle last season in Iowa City before Iowa rallied for a win, so Ferentz isn't expecting an easy visit to Bloomington.
But the timing of the game after a big win causes extra apprehension.
"You always worry about something," Ferentz said. "Right now, we're worried about prosperity. A week ago, we were worried about being in the ditch."
The Indiana game begins a stretch in which the Hawkeyes play three of four games on the road. A game at Northwestern follows before the big home showdown against Ohio State. Iowa concludes the regular season with a road game at Minnesota.
The other Big Ten teams contending for the title are Michigan State (8-1, 4-1), Ohio State (8-1, 4-1) and Wisconsin (7-1, 3-1). Iowa lost to Wisconsin in October.
The situation calls for avoiding upsets -- including road trips against teams looking for their first conference victory.
"Anything can happen in the next month," Ferentz said. "That's what makes it interesting."
--Junior safety Tyler Sash was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top defensive back. Sash, who has 13 career interceptions, also was a finalist last season.
--Junior cornerback Shaun Prater was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week following a solid outing against Michigan State in which he had a career-best 10 tackles and notched his third interception of the season.
SERIES HISTORY: Iowa leads Indiana 40-27-4 (last meeting, 2009, 42-24 Iowa).
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Quarterback Ricky Stanzi has thrown 19 touchdown passes against just two interceptions and is second nationally in passing efficiency behind Boise State's Kellen Moore. Stanzi has completed 68.5 percent of his passes. Running back Adam Robinson is approaching a 1,000-yard campaign -- he has 806 yards and 10 touchdowns with four games left. Receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos didn't have a catch against Michigan State. His next reception will be his school-record 158th of his career. Tight end Allen Reisner has impressed with 28 receptions.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Iowa's solid defense seemingly has different heroes all the time. Defensive backs Shaun Prater (10 tackles and an interception), Brett Greenwood (interception) Tyler Sash (interception), Micah Hyde (touchdown return after Sash lateraled interception to him) all made big contributions in the thrashing of Michigan State. The Hawkeyes mixed in some 3-4 alignment packages that confused the Spartans and will certainly use some again while facing prolific Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell, who has five 300-yard passing games this season. Defensive tackle Mike Daniels (team leader with 10 tackles for loss and three sacks) has outperformed big-name DE Adrian Clayborn (six tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks) this season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't think there's a team in the league that couldn't beat us, and conversely, if we play well, we have an opportunity to win most games. That's the challenge as it stands right now." -- Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz on playing three of four games on the road to finish the Big Ten schedule.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Iowa at Indiana, Nov. 6 -- The Hawkeyes have won five of the last seven meetings, but last year's game wasn't easy. Iowa trailed 24-14 and committed six turnovers in the first three quarters before exploding for 28 points in the fourth quarter in a comeback victory.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Keeping Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell somewhat in check will be a major key. Chappell will throw for some yards -- he's averaging 305.6 per game -- but keeping him from throwing touchdown passes would deflate a Hoosiers squad that needs this game to become a shootout. Iowa has nabbed more interceptions (13) than touchdowns allowed (eight), with Shaun Prater and Brett Greenwood leading with three picks apiece. Hawkeyes quarterback Ricky Stanzi passed for 337 yards against Indiana last season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QB Ricky Stanzi -- He is having a sensational senior season and should be in line for a solid day against Indiana's inconsistent defense.
S Tyler Sash -- Iowa's ball-hawking strong safety had an 86-yard interception return against Indiana last year.
MLB James Morris -- The injury to starter Jeff Tarpinian has opened the door for him, and the true freshman has played like an upperclassman the past few weeks.
--Senior MLB Jeff Tarpinian (neck stinger) will possibly see his role increased if he makes it through the week without a setback.
--Senior OLB Jeremiha Hunter (knee) is questionable for the Indiana game. Hunter missed the Michigan State game.
--Junior OLB Tyler Nielsen (neck) is expected to be sidelined for at least two weeks.
Scouting the Opponent: Iowa
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