Nick Easley got to go home for his weekend off.
The Iowa wide receiver watched college football last weekend as a fan since the Hawkeyes were on their bye week.
“It was good to get a weekend off,” Easley said.
It’s back to reality, and coming off a bye week is something the Hawkeyes have had trouble with in recent seasons.
Take, for example, last season, when the Hawkeyes scored just 10 points in an overtime loss at Northwestern a week after not playing.
Or 2016, when they scored just 14 points in a 27-point defeat at Penn State.
But Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz isn’t that concerned heading into Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game at Minnesota.
Ferentz said he “wasn’t in a bad mood” after Sunday’s practice, something that has happened in the past after a bye week.
“I really felt like our guys were focused and into it on Sunday, which was pleasing to see,” Ferentz said during his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “And that's been pretty much a constant with this football team going back to January. They haven't had many bad days and that's encouraging.
“Obviously we've got a lot of work to do. But I think they're trying, they're focused. And, so, I think we feel like we had a good practice. I think we've practiced well the last two days as well. Hopefully we'll take that to game day and be ready to go at kickoff.”
The Hawkeyes (3-1 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) are coming off a 28-17 home loss to Wisconsin.
“I think we’ve moved on,” Easley said. “We learned a lot from that game.”
Minnesota (3-1, 0-1) is coming off a 42-13 loss to Maryland, and then the bye week.
“Our team believes in each other,” Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said. “They believe in our culture. They believe in our program. They believe in what they're doing, and they have become incredibly tight and close.”
It will be the first road game of the season for the Hawkeyes, beginning a stretch of four of their next five games away from Kinnick Stadium.
What to watch in Saturday’s game:
YOUNG ANNEXSTAD: Minnesota true freshman quarterback Zack Annexstad has thrown for 706 yards and five touchdowns this season.
He’ll face an Iowa defense that is second in the Big Ten with 13 sacks and fifth in passing defense.
“He knows where to go with the ball,” Ferentz said. “He throws it down both sidelines. They throw other stuff, too. Not just that. But they do a nice job of throwing deep balls. And (receivers Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman, ranked in the top 10 in the Big Ten in receptions) are really dangerous in a lot of areas but also on those streak routes down the sideline.”
STRENGTH UP FRONT: Minnesota rushed for just 94 yards against Maryland, and Iowa’s defense ranks second in the Big Ten in rushing defense, allowing just 84 yards per game.
“You recruit speed, but you don't really develop strength until they get here, grown-man strength,” Fleck said.
INJURY REPORT: Minnesota running back Rodney Smith and defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr., are out for the season with injuries.
Iowa will be without linebacker Nick Niemann for this game and at least one more week because of a leg injury. Barrington Wade will make his first start at outside linebacker.
HUNGRY FOR TURNOVERS: Iowa is at minus-1 in turnover margin this season.
FLOYD: The winner gets Floyd of Rosedale, the bronzed pig trophy that has become iconic.
The Hawkeyes have had Floyd since 2015.
“Floyd is certainly a great, great trophy,” Ferentz said. “Floyd of Rosedale is one of the great traditions in college football, and our players get to experience that, so it's really kind of a neat thing, and I'm sure they feel the same way.”