Here's what Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz said in his press conference before facing Nebraska
One win away from the most improbable division title, Iowa (7-4, 5-3 Big Ten Conference) hosts Nebraska (3-8, 2-6) for an important Black Friday showdown. Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz met with the media Tuesday to discuss the senior day matchup, the state of Iowa football and beyond.
Here's what stood out.
On the statuses of injured Iowa football players Sam LaPorta and Monte Pottebaum
"Don't expect Sam or Monte (to be available Friday)," Ferentz said. "I just don't think that's realistic So that's kind of where that's at. ... It's could've gone either way. You just never know what to think coming off the field that night. But they both got tested (Monday), and things look about as good as they can. So we'll just take it a day at a time. The door is open, but not this week.
"Positive news is we'll get Beau Stephens back. He was back at practice today, so he'll be available. I don't know how ready he'll be. He's missed some time and is a younger player, so it's not like he has a lot of experience banked up."
On Iowa football not getting distracted by the Big Ten West division implications of Saturday's game
"These guys are all college students, and they probably follow football more than I do quite frankly with the outside world," Ferentz said. "But I think we all know what's at stake, what's possible. My encouragement to them is we've got to focus on this week purely. That's really all it's about. That really was our attitude five weeks ago. That was the goal. We had five games, and my point to them was you can do anything for five games. Let's just make sure we're really focused on what we need to, and now we're down to four days.
"That's all that counts, and I do know this. Going back to the first one coming out of Columbus, if we don't get that one, being in the position we're in right now wouldn't be possible. Just try to explain to them, that game was really important just like the one Friday. I don't think one is more important than the other."
On Iowa football's recent run of close games against Nebraska
"Most of them have gone right down to the wire," Ferentz said. "That's what you have to expect. That's how I look at it. Typically, nothing is easy for us. That's kind of the way of life. So it's just find a way to win at the end. We're expecting this to be a real tough game."
On conversations had with Iowa football seniors about returning for their COVID year
"We really haven't had those conversations yet," Ferentz said. "As far as I know, there's no NCAA rule yet about if you walk (on senior day), you're ineligible. As long as we don't give them a thousand bucks on the way out. We just always encourage them to do that. And they can always change their mind or if they have second thoughts, it'd definitely be worth a conversation. We'll have a couple of those down the road, but yeah, go on and be honored."
Dargan Southard is a sports trending reporter and covers Iowa athletics for the Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.