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Big Ten preview: Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa players carry Floyd of Rosedale, the game trophy, off the field following a 23-7 victory over Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Sept. 28, 2013. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Iowa players carry Floyd of Rosedale, the game trophy, off the field following a 23-7 victory over Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Sept. 28, 2013. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Location: Iowa City, Iowa

2014 record: 7-6

Head coach: Kirk Ferentz (15th year, 119-85)

2015 record so far: 4-0

Record vs. OSU since 2005: 0-4

What’s happened so far in 2015: The Hawkeyes are off to a strong start after kicking off the year with four straight wins. They are coming fresh off a 62-16 win against Northern Texas and beating Pittsburgh 27-24 with a time-expiring field goal, as well as beating in-state rival Iowa State on the road 31-17. The Hawkeyes are 4-0 for the first time since 2009 when they went on to win nine in a row and finish 11-2 while beating Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.

Key offensive player: Hawkeye fans were close to having a quarterback battle between Jake Rudock and C.J. Beathard, but that was decided when Rudock transferred to Michigan. Beathard, a junior, took over and has looked steady this season, leading Iowa to 151 points on offense so far. He has been very efficient with his passing, completing 75 of 115 passes for 962 yards and six touchdowns with only one interception. Going into Big Ten play, Beathard seems ready to lead the Hawkeyes to their first West Division championship, as well as their first trip to the Big Ten Championship Game.

Key defensive player: Iowa has been known for its hard-nosed defense, which is marked this season by senior linebacker Cole Fisher. The Omaha, Nebraska, native leads the team in tackles, while being tied for second in sacks. He has been a bright spot on the defense this year, excelling both on and off the field, with his grades earning him an Academic All-Big Ten spot for three straight years. Fisher and his unit have done their job this season by allowing only 17.8 points a game and not allowing a single rushing touchdown.

Weakness: While the Hawkeyes should be pleased with their undefeated start, the offense struggled at times, as they have lost four fumbles in as many games. They also are only converting third downs 52 percent of the time. Iowa is poised to compete in the weaker West division of the Big Ten, but in order to do so, the team will need to clean up the turnovers and improve its efficiency on third downs.

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