IOWA CITY — Nate Stanley appreciates the history and tradition of the place where he will take his next snap.
He’s as anxious as anybody on the 14th-ranked Iowa football team to take the field at Michigan Stadium, where 19th-ranked Michigan presents the Hawkeyes’ senior quarterback with both a challenge and an opportunity.
"It’s a great environment and one of the historic venues in college football. It should be a special opportunity to go in and play in an environment like that," Stanley said.
Today’s 11 a.m. game will provide Stanley with the first of several chances he could have in the coming weeks to add another career-defining victory to his resume.
He thrived under the lights at Kinnick Stadium as a sophomore in 2017, throwing for 226 yards and five touchdowns in the Hawkeyes’ 55-24 rout of Ohio State and has quarterbacked Iowa to bowl victories in consecutive seasons.
Stanley has also had his share of success on the road, winning twice at Iowa State and celebrating six victories in true road games away from Kinnick Stadium since starting his first game for Iowa in 2017.
But the one thing that has eluded the quarterback who has orchestrated 21 victories in his 30 consecutive starts is a true road victory against a ranked opponent.
Iowa hasn’t beaten a team ranked in the Associated Press top 25 on its home field since winning 40-10 at 20th-ranked Northwestern on Oct. 17, 2015.
Four of the nine losses the Hawkeyes have had with Stanley under center have come on the road against ranked opponents.
In losses at 15th-ranked Michigan State, 17th-ranked Northwestern and seventh-ranked Wisconsin in 2017 along with at 17th-ranked Penn State in 2018, Stanley completed just 61-of-137 passes (44.5 percent).
Stanley has hit on 59 percent of his passes throughout his career, including a 64.4-percent touch through the first four games of his senior season.
He said he has tried to learn from those experiences, hoping growth will benefit him when confronted with the same road tests as his career progresses.
"I always try to look back on games and situations and attempt to figure out what I could have done differently," he said. "There are always situations to learn from — that’s true of every game — and when something hasn’t gone well, the hope is to turn that around the next time."
Brad Banks and Ricky Stanzi quarterbacked Iowa to its most recent victories at Michigan Stadium.
Banks connected on 18-of-29 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-9 win in 2002 while Stanzi completed 17-of-24 passes for 248 yards and three scores during a 38-28 win in 2010.
In that type of environment, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said "it sure helps" if a quarterback can perform at that level.
"If your quarterback plays well at home or away, it’s a good thing, and the way we’re wired, that’s certainly a good thing," Ferentz said.
Ferentz believes Stanley has the experience to compete at a high level no matter where the Hawkeyes are playing.
"Nate is a veteran guy, and that experience I think certainly helped him (at Iowa State) the last time out. That was a really tough environment. … So the intensity of that series and being on the road, I feel like that’s great preparation for playing in tough stadiums in our conference," Ferentz said.
"And again, having a veteran quarterback I think is certainly a plus. It doesn’t guarantee anything, but it’s certainly a plus."
Stanley said he will prepare as he does every week, hoping to move Iowa (4-0) one step closer to its goals.
"The only way you can earn success is to be prepared to earn it," Stanley said. "This week isn’t any different than last week from that perspective. We all have to prepare and make certain that we have all the details down. When you go on the road, you have to be at your best."
Iowa won’t be the only team looking to make a statement today.
Michigan’s 35-14 loss at Wisconsin has left the Wolverines (3-1) in a nearly must-win situation if they hope to contend in the Big Ten East.
Games against fourth-ranked Ohio State, 12th-ranked Penn State, 25th-ranked Michigan State and a nonconference match-up with ninth-ranked Notre Dame are still in the Wolverines’ future.
"When you’re down and your back’s to the wall, you’ve got to come out and fight," Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. "You’ve got to sustain. You’ve got to work harder. You’ve got to work smarter, be tougher, mentally and physically."