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Steppe’s Stats: Iowa’s last two soccer wins show why Kirk Ferentz thinks offensive mileage is over

Teams that win Yardage Battle typically win games, but Iowa isn’t the only Big Ten team bucking this trend

Steppe's Stats: Iowa's last two soccer wins show why Kirk Ferentz thinks offensive yards are overrated

Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz watches the action on the field during the first half of their Big Ten Conference football game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Saturday, November 19, 2022. (Jim Slosiarek /The Gazette )

IOWA CITY — More than a month before the first snap of Iowa’s 2022 football season, Big Ten video production staff asked Kirk Ferentz and other Big Ten coaches for the most overhyped statistic.

Responses included time of possession and penalties.

ference? “Probably offensive yardage in my opinion.”

The video, released the day before Iowa’s 6-9 loss to Illinois, might not have been the best timing for a fan base frustrated amid a three-game slump.

A fan said in a tweet that Iowa is “Beyond parody at this point‘ and the tweet received more than 100 likes.

Fast-forward seven weeks, and Ferentz’s insulting yardage comment seems a lot less like a parody and more like an unconventional way of winning.

Iowa finished the last two games by at least an 80 yard deficit, but the Hawkeyes won both games.

Wisconsin had a 227-146 yards lead overall, but Iowa won by 14 yards. Then Minnesota had a lead of 399-280 yards overall, but Iowa won by three yards.

“At the end of the day, it’s about finding a way to win the game,” Ferentz said. “My thoughts haven’t changed much in 23 years. It started before that.

“You think about what is important. … We’re all shaped by our past, the people I’ve been with who have been fortunate enough to work with have had a huge impact on me in terms of the way I look at the game.”

Winning despite losing the yardage fight isn’t entirely unique to the Hawkeyes. Ohio State, Michigan State and Indiana all overcame their mileage deficits to win games this month.

However, it helps to have more yards than your opponent.

Big Ten teams are 14-7 this month if they have the advantage in total yards.

As of the start of the 2021 season, Iowa has been 10-1 in outpacing its opponent in yards. If the Hawkeyes’ opponents have the overall advantage in yards, Iowa is 7-7.

“I’m not against it for a start, just for the record,” Ferentz said when asked about his choice of the overstated stat.

“Bill Russell said the most important statistic is winning and losing,” Ferentz said. “That’s the most important.

“The second most important thing, in my opinion, is sales and takeaways when you think long-term. It all starts with that.”

If Iowa won the sales lead this year, it’ll be 6-1. If Iowa ties or loses the sales margin, it’s 1-3.

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