Kirk Ferentz in a Santa hat, LSU’s take on the Hawkeyes and the game-day forecast for Raymond James Stadium are all a part of today’s Hawkeye 10 @ 10, your daily dose of Iowa news and notes appearing daily at Hawkmania.com.
Here is today’s Hawkeye 10 @ 10:
1. The Florida trip is a homecoming for three players on the Iowa roster.
Quarterback Jake Rudock, defensive back Greg Mabin and defensive lineman Daumanta Venckus-Cucchiara are all natives of the state, having attended high school in the Fort Lauderdale area.
“It’s about four hours away from Tampa, so it’s not totally going home, but I feel good that my family will be able to drive to the game pretty easily,’’ Rudock said.
Rudock has not played at Raymond James Stadium, but his high school team at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale did have a playoff game in Tampa.
“Mostly, it’s going to be good to go somewhere warm. All of this snow and ice, that hasn’t been a lot of fun for me,’’ Rudock said.
2. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz continued an Iowa bowl tradition on Wednesday, wearing a black-and-gold Santa hat as he coached the team during its Christmas Day practice at Tampa Jesuit High School.
The hat has become a tradition of sorts as Ferentz first wore it prior to an Alamo Bowl practice in 2001 on Christmas Day in San Antonio and he has worn it to the Hawkeyes’ Christmas Day workout at each bowl Iowa has attended since.
3. LSU coach Les Miles was working at Michigan at the same time Kirk Ferentz was working as an assistant at Iowa, but the pair has not crossed paths frequently.
However, Miles said he knows enough about Ferentz to know that his team will need to ready.
“Iowa’s coaches are known for being meticulous as they prepare, so we know that we’ll be facing a quality team,’’ Miles said. “They have a very talented, very capable football team.’’
4. The LSU team Iowa will face next Wednesday is the most efficient team in the nation in converting on third-down plays.
The Tigers have moved the chains 58.6 percent of the time on third down, the best at the Football Bowl Subdivision level.
Iowa’s defense ranks 25th nationally in stopping third-down plays, limiting opponents to a 34.3-percent conversion rate.
5. LSU coach Les Miles said he is not overly concerned about the adjustment Anthony Jennings will make as he steps into the starting quarterback’s role for the first time in place of injured Zach Mettenberger.
“If it were earlier in the season, it would have been different but at quarterback, he’s been preparing right along with Zach all year,’’ Miles said. “It’s not a position where a lot will change. I do think the guys around him need to work to get on the same page with Anthony and that is one way they can show Zach that they support him.’’
6. Hawkeye running back Mark Weisman said establishing the run will continue to be an important element of what Iowa will need to accomplish if it hopes to have success against the Tigers.
“It’s a part of what we do and although they have a lot of big guys on their defensive line, we have to be able to run the ball,’’ Weisman said. “That’s where it starts for us, just like any other game.’’
7. LSU has dominated unrated opponents since Les Miles arrived from Oklahoma State in 2005.
The Tigers are 56-5 against unranked teams since that time and Iowa will be the eighth unrated opponent LSU has faced this year. Louisiana State is 6-1 in those games, losing only a 27-24 game at Ole Miss.
8. The Hawkeyes enter the bowl game on a three-game winning streak.
Among Big Ten teams, only Michigan State with a string of nine straight wins has a longer ongoing win streak than Iowa.
9. If nothing else, the Hawkeyes will eat well tonight.
Both Iowa and LSU will attend the Outback Steakhouse Team Welcome Dinner tonight following practices.
The Hawkeyes have been in Tampa since Tuesday, while LSU arrives early this afternoon and will practice at the University of Tampa.
10. The current National Weather Service forecast for Tampa on New Year’s Day calls for a high near 70 degrees. Iowa is practicing outside this week and there is a chance of rain daily through Sunday with highs around 75 degrees.