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Bucks face ‘improved’ Hawkeyes this weekend

The last time Iowa and Ohio State were on the same field with each other, it wasn’t a very pleasant experience for the Hawkeyes. In fact, it was a down right miserable time.Iowa watched OSU race out to a 56-7 lead by the half, scoring six touchdowns on six possessions, one coming on a 60-yard interception by junior cornerback Shawn Springs.’Last year was one of those halfs you dream about,’ OSU head coach John Cooper said. ‘Everything we tried worked and Iowa hurt themselves some.’But if you are expecting the same results this Saturday when the Buckeyes travel to Iowa City, you might be a little disappointed. According to Cooper, Iowa is a much improved team, especially on defense.’This year they are much, much, much more aggressive football team, especially on defense,’ Cooper said. ‘I think this is the best Iowa football team we’ve seen in a long, long time.’Cooper said the boost in the Hawkeyes’ confidence level has helped them win some close games.’They are playing with a lot of confidence right now,’ Cooper said. ‘They had a great victory last week over Penn State. They came from behind a couple of weeks ago to beat a pretty good Michigan State team.’Since OSU has not played in Kinnick Stadium since 1992, many players don’t know what to expect from the very enthusiastic Hawkeye fans.’I’ve never been to Iowa, so I don’t know how hard it is to play there,’ OSU senior center Juan Porter said. ‘I’ve heard a lot of stories about how the fans there are right on top of you like at Notre Dame. We are going in there with the attitude of getting on top early and taking the crowd out of it’One person who does know how tough the Iowa fans can be is Cooper, who is 4-1-1 against the Hawkeyes. ‘They’re crowd will be juiced up,’ Cooper said. ‘I’ve never been there when it hasn’t been juiced up. I think particularly with the 3:30 p.m. kickoff, they really will be juiced up, if you know what I mean.’ ‘Every time you play at home or on the road, you better be ready to play your best football,’ he said.In addition , Cooper said that last year’s destruction of the Hawkeyes won’t play a factor in this season’s game.’I think what happened last year over isn’t going to have any affect on Iowa at all,’ Cooper said. ‘We expect them to take their best shot at us.’Despite big wins over Notre Dame, Penn State and Wisconsin, players realize this week’s battle with Iowa will determine who is in the driver’s seat for the Big Ten Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl.’If we win, we keep things on track,’ OSU junior tailback Pepe Pearson said. ‘If we lose this game, we have to depend on other teams. We control our own destiny.’

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