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Hitting the rewind button was as depressing as Kirk Ferentz imagined.

"The film pretty much reconfirmed what we suspected on Saturday," Iowa's football coach said of a 38-31 loss at Maryland. "We just didn't play well enough to win, and they did.

"So the credit goes to them."

The Hawkeyes (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten Conference) are off this weekend, before hosting Northwestern Nov. 1. Players will practice Wednesday and Thursday, then take a break until Sunday.

"We've got to improve if we expect to win our next five ballgames," Ferentz said during a Tuesday teleconference. "That's the challenge ahead."

Iowa still controls its own fate in the Big Ten's West Division, but sweeping past Northwestern, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and Nebraska seems unlikely without a significant upgrade in performance.

"Basically, we're just going to try to regroup here a little bit," Ferentz said. "We've got five very important games coming up. We'll see what we can do to get ready for those five games."

UNREAL ANNNIVERSARY: Thursday marks the 10th anniversary of Iowa's 6-4 win at Penn State, during a run to the 2004 Big Ten title.

It's a final score that seems absurd in today's current offensive climate.

"Maybe a little bit less apt to happen," Ferentz said. "But there's still some people playing pretty good defense.

"It's unusual when that happens, where two teams play like that in one game. On that day, that was the case."

FOURTH-DOWN SUCCESS: The Hawkeyes have converted 10 out of 14 fourth-down chances (71 percent) this season.

Not only is the success rate surprising, most outsiders are probably shocked the button-downed Ferentz continues to roll the dice.

"We try not to make it too big of a gamble," Ferentz said. "The times we have chosen to go for it, we just feel like it's a smart thing to do.

"If we're a little bit in the not-sure territory, then we probably won't do it. So far, so good. We'll just weigh it out week by week as we move forward."

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