Hawkeyes Focusing Solely on Miami (OH) as Expectations for Season Soar

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- It's finally game week for the No. 17 Hawkeyes and as they come off an unexpected 12-win season and a Rose Bowl appearance, expectations remain sky high.

While the team is aware of the outside noise, they remain focused on the task at hand and that's Miami (OH) at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday in their 2016 season opener.

"It’s a journey and it’s week to week," Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday. "There are so many twists and turns that can take place during the course of a year, and really it just gets down simply to focusing on what’s important. I think our team, for the most part, has done a pretty good job of that. You’re never quite sure, but I think we’ve kind of kept our eyes on the road and tried to take care of today."

The Hawkeyes won't surprise anyone this season like they did last year when they started the season on a historic run. It's a different feeling for the team as excitement around the program is the highest it's been in years.

With all of that in the back of their mind, the players know they can't skip any steps in the process.

"We have a chip on our shoulder," Iowa defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson said. "We were a 12-0 team last year and we are the hunted now. But we just have to cancel all that out and go out and play our best football. If we do that, we'll have another great season."

IOWA CITY, IA - NOVEMBER 21: Defensive back Desmond King #14 and quarterback C.J. Beathard #16 of the Iowa Hawkeyes stand before the match-up against the Purdue Boilermakers on November 21, 2015 at Kinnick Stadium, in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

IOWA CITY, IA - NOVEMBER 21: Defensive back Desmond King #14 and quarterback C.J. Beathard #16 of the Iowa Hawkeyes stand before the match-up against the Purdue Boilermakers on November 21, 2015 at Kinnick Stadium, in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

Iowa, who won last season's season-opening game against Illinois State at Kinnick Stadium by a score of 31-14, is 14-3 all-time under Ferentz in season openers.

It's been a long offseason following disappointing defeats to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game and Stanford in the Rose Bowl but the team is now prepared to start anew and put the past behind them.

"We know the task at hand," Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard said. "This is a new season and a new team, the 2016 team. Obviously, we can use last year as fuel and motivation with what happened during the final two games of the season.

"We have to show what we can do on the field and we finally get our opportunity to do that on Saturday."