IOWA CITY — Drake Kulick savored the moment, but he wants more.
The Iowa fullback believes the Hawkeyes need to build off of last week’s 55-24 pounding of third-ranked Ohio State, not live off of it.
“That was a big step forward, the way we came together, the way we played, but there is so much more still out there for us,’’ the senior from Muscatine said Tuesday. “That’s the motivation now. Go get our trophy and bring it home.’’
The 25th-rated Hawkeyes will get that chance on Saturday, competing for the Heartland Trophy when they visit sixth-ranked Wisconsin at 2:30 p.m.
Like most recent match-ups in this series, what Iowa and Wisconsin bring to the field at Camp Randall Stadium is a fullback-worthy battle.
“It’s one of the hardest hitting games we play every year,’’ Kulick said. “It’s who we are. It’s who they are. Love it. Can’t wait.’’
Kulick believes Iowa’s performance against the Buckeyes positions the Hawkeyes to compete against the Badgers.
“We were struggling on offense and I think last week, we found our identity,’’ Kulick said. “It all started up front and those guys got it done. It was a big step forward. The week before against Minnesota, we had a lot of three and outs and the message all last week was that we had to get better.’’
That led to an attention to detail that paid dividends in a dominant performance against Ohio State.
The Hawkeyes piled up 487 yards of offense, rushing for a season-high 243 yards and passing for 244.
That effort included a 2-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nate Stanley to Kulick on the first snap of the fourth quarter, a ball Kulick was told on Friday might come his way if the situation presented itself.
“When you play fullback, you don’t get the ball in your hands that often. I wasn’t going to screw it up,’’ Kulick said. “It’s a play I’ll remember for a while.’’
After extending the Hawkeyes’ lead to 45-17, Kulick then soaked it all in as he stared a group of Ohio State fans in the face in the northeast corner of Kinnick Stadium.
“I looked up to see the dismay in their faces,’’ Kulick said. “They came here third in the AP poll and sixth in the playoff rankings and they left in a body bag.’’
Tight end Noah Fant said the Hawkeyes’ objective this week is to avoid a similar fate.
“We did so many good things last week. We don’t want to be that team that has a big win and comes out the next game and has everything go the other way,’’ said Fant, who caught his team-leading sixth and seventh touchdown passes against the Buckeyes.
Fant understands the unbeaten Badgers will provide Iowa with a different type of test, starting with a 3-4 defensive alignment the Hawkeyes have not seen this season.
He also believes the confidence Iowa gained from the Ohio State game can only help the Hawkeyes compete as they work to build on a 6-3 record.
“We needed a game like that to show us all what we are capable of accomplishing when we work hard all week, do all of the little things and make them work for us,’’ Fant said.
That led to success that is now turned into expectation, center James Daniels said.
He said the attention to detail created the cohesion that allowed Iowa to execute the way it did as an offensive unit.
“The way we played against Ohio State, that has to become the norm,’’ Daniels said. “That is what we have to expect from ourselves every game. There can’t be a letdown now.’’
Kulick understands that as well.
“We need to keep moving forward,’’ he said. “This is going to be a physical game on both sides of the ball. Last week, I think we found out that we can take the fight to anybody.’’