The Iowa Hawkeyes are now two weeks away from their return to the Outback Bowl.

Coach Kirk Ferentz, speaking on his bowl game show on Learfield sports, says the run up to the game has been a little different this year with the final game of the season on Black Friday. Ferentz says they are able to stay more focused on football now.

“Probably the major shift now I think since 2010 when we started playing after Thanksgiving — probably the big difference is you don’t have that week break where the guys go home and typically do nothing on that Thanksgiving,” Ferentz says. “We came out of the Nebraska game the following weekend, we practiced a couple of times. The older guys did no hitting, we didn’t want them to have any contact. The guys that hadn’t played did have some contact.”

The players have to take care of their schoolwork this week before the bowl preparation hits full steam. Ferentz says they are studying and taking tests and they won’t practice until Friday night when they will start to look at the game plan.

Things are different for the coaches now too with a dead period for recruiting. He says the NCAA changed the recruiting rules so the coaches can’t be on the road and they all have been in the office working on the game plan.

Ferentz expects to sign 20 to 21 recruits when they hit the trail again after the bowl game, but the coach says they’ve already landed the biggest recruit of the year with the decisions on lineman Brandon Scherff to stick around for another year. “We couldn’t recruit five players that could do what he can do for our football team next year, so we were all excited by that,” Ferentz says.

The Hawkeyes face LSU in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day.