In today's media teleconference, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz confirmed what most already knew or suspected after the latest Hawkeye depth chart was released: His undefeated team will have to start getting used to life without offensive lineman Dace Richardson and running back Adam Robinson.
The Hawkeyes have suffered through more than their fair share of adversity this year, including losing projected tailback starter Jewel Hampton to a knee injury, missing standout lineman Bryan Bulaga for three games due to a thyroid issue, and playing without receiving weapons Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Tony Moeaki earlier because of injuries.
The news about Richardson and Robinson , who are both expected to miss the rest of the season, makes Iowa's chase for a possible national title a little more difficult. However, Ferentz and company have overcome every challenge so far this year, most notably the injuries and a horrendous road schedule (with wins at Penn State, at Wisconsin, at Michigan State), so let's not count the Hawks out in the title conversation just yet.
Iowa is averaging 123 rushing yards a game, so with the loss of both a lineman and running back this week, look for quarterback Ricky Stanzi to get some more opportunities to wing the ball around the field as the season progresses.
The schedule features a pair of winnable games against Indiana and Northwestern before the huge showdown in Columbus against the four-time defending champion Ohio State Buckeyes, so Ferentz will have some time to figure out how to best use new starting running back, Brandon Wegher prior to the matchup that could decide this year's Big Ten champion.
It won't be easy for Iowa to finish the season undefeated.
But it hasn't really been easy to this point either.
This article is also featured on FirstandBigTen.com , a Bleacher Report blog dedicated to Big Ten football.