The Iowa Hawkeyes have been one of the biggest surprises of the 2021 college football season. Kirk Ferentz’s program has weathered the storm through half of the year and battled its way to a 6-0 start.
Now sitting at No. 2 in the latest AP Poll, the Hawkeyes have hit their highest ranking since the 1985 campaign.
Iowa has been able to get past some tough opponents while climbing the ladder, including No. 4 Penn State and in-state rival Iowa State. To do so, the Hawkeyes have played a very particular, hard-nosed brand of football.
Iowa’s strength has come from its defense, which ranks among the best in the nation through six games. The Hawkeyes have held 28 straight opponents to 24 points or fewer and have racked up a turnover margin of +15 so far this season, which is good enough for the best mark in the country.
The defense-first, slow burn strategy that Ferentz has implemented at Iowa this fall has earned the respect of Kirk Herbstreit. The ESPN college football analyst drew a comparison between the Hawkeyes and an MMA fighter for each one’s unique style.
“Iowa is the MMA fighter… Iowa’s the guy that goes in the second round and both sides are bleeding, and then they get you in that inevitable chokehold and you’re like ‘Oh my God. Trying to hold on, I can’t.’ Tap out. That’s Iowa,” Herbstreit said of the Hawkeyes. “That’s the style of football. They don’t care. And you might look at them if you’re an SEC or Big 12 [team], whatever, around the country and be like ‘Iowa? Oh, man. They’re overrated.’ Until you get in the ring with them and want no part of ’em.”
Well said, @KirkHerbstreit.
— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) October 12, 2021
Herbstreit makes an apt comparison between the Hawkeyes and an MMA fighter. Iowa won’t go down without a fight and each battle will be grittier than the last.
The Hawkeyes will enter the fray again this weekend against another Big Ten opponent in Purdue. The Boilermakers haven’t been able to produce offense consistently this season, meaning they’ll face a tall task in moving the ball on Iowa.
The Hawkeyes will look to hold onto their perfect record at home this Saturday at 3:30 ET on ABC.
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