UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Iowa tight end George Kittle has little doubt Saturday’s 41-14 loss at Penn State won’t linger with the Hawkeyes for very long.
“We’ll forget this game in two or three minutes,” Kittle said outside his Beaver Stadium locker room. “I’m already focused on Michigan.”
The Hawkeyes’ loss has the potential to tear a team apart. The defense gave up 599 yards, the most Iowa has allowed in a game since 1999. The offense rushed for 30 yards. The Hawkeyes were favored to win the Big Ten West division, yet they are struggling just to gain bowl eligibility.
Cornerback Desmond King echoed Kittle’s thoughts on flushing Saturday’s loss.
“You don’t want to dwell on a game and you’ve got three more good opponents coming in the last three weeks,” King said. “We don’t point fingers at each other. It’s a team loss. We came in as a team, we lose as a team. We’re going to leave as a team. That’s how it’s going to be.”
Iowa (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten) has three games left this year, and two are at home. The Hawkeyes play host to No. 3 Michigan (9-0, 6-0) on Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium. Then after a road trip to Illinois, Iowa closes with its annual Black Friday finale at home with No. 10 Nebraska.
The Hawkeyes need one more win to gain bowl eligibility. But the rest of the season is about more than just a second-tier bowl game. It’s about finishing the right way and staying positive.
“I’m not really a negative person,” Kittle said. “I wasn’t really that negative when we went 4-8 back in 2012. Obviously every single week is an opportunity to go out and win, and I get to step in Kinnick for a night game. I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
But Kittle isn’t ignoring the problems that engulfed the team against Penn State, either. If the Hawkeyes don’t make strides, they could find themselves on the end of an even worse score. Michigan has dominated opponents this fall, winning every game but two by at least 17 points. The Wolverines pounded the Nittany Lions 49-10 in the Big Ten opener. Michigan beat Maryland 59-3 on Saturday.
“We need to come together as a team, and we need to figure some stuff out,” Kittle said. “That’s going to be a big focus this week.”