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 which 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 two-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 which 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."
SURGERY FOR SNYDER: Free safety Brandon Snyder will undergo surgery next week to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee for the second time in eight months.
The Iowa junior who made a quicker-than-expected return to action in an Oct. 7 game against Illinois – six months after suffering the original injury – re-injured the knee in the game against the Fighting Illini and has not played since.
“I think everybody was comfortable, the family, Brandon, us as coaches with what the facts were, what the odds were, and I think we all felt he made the right move coming back," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
“We were very conservative with his returned, based on what he had tested and how he had passed through the protocol. It’s one of those things that happened. I have total confidence when June comes around we’ll have one hungry player, one smart player and one very talented player on our hands.
Snyder returned an interception 89 yards for a touchdown and recorded three tackles in his only game of the season. Because Snyder had already redshirted, Ferentz said Iowa officials are not optimistic that he would be eligible for a medical redshirt year.
JACKSON, FERENTZ HONORED: Recognition following Saturday’s 55-24 win over third-rated Ohio State continue to pour in for the Hawkeyes.
Cornerback Josh Jackson, who intercepted three passes in the win, was named Tuesday by the Maxwell Football Club as its Bednarik Award national defensive player of the week. The honor comes after the junior was named the Big Ten co-defensive player of the week and the Walter Camp Foundation national defensive player of the week.
Coach Kirk Ferentz was named Tuesday as the Bobby Dodd Trophy coach of the week, selected by Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation.
HOLDING PATTERN: A starting time for the Hawkeyes’ Nov. 18 home finale against Purdue will not be determined until after this weekend’s games are played. It has been determined the game will start at 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m. or 3 p.m.