It’s going to be a wild weekend for the top-ranked Hawkeyes, culminating in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown Saturday night in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
No. 1 Iowa (6-0) faces No. 2 Oklahoma State (4-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday. A win extends the Hawkeyes’ unbeaten dual meet winning streak to 85 matches, breaking the mark set by Oklahoma State from 1959 to 1966.
“We don’t talk about it much, if at all,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said of the streak. “There’s a reason why you have a streak because you have guys that are doing a good job.
“They have got to keep doing a good job.”
Of course, to tie the unbeaten mark at 84 duals, Iowa has to first win at Indiana (6-1) at 6 p.m. today in Bloomington, Ind.
The Hawkeyes are rolling out on a charter bus for Bloomington, Ind., and close to 800 round-trip miles.
So the Hawkeye wrestling team may roll back into Iowa City about 3 a.m. Saturday.
Brands didn’t think the travel schedule, so close to this huge showdown, would affect his team.
“Don’t underestimate us. Don’t categorize us that we’ve got to have a charter (airplane),” Brands said. “We’ll hack it out of the wilderness with a machete.”
Sophomore Tony Ramos said the bus ride is just something else the Hawkeyes will overcome.
“It’s something you’ve got to prepare your mind for,” said Ramos, who has a big match Saturday with top-ranked Jordan Oliver. “You can’t let it affect you. It’s something you have to do deal with.
“They send you away, and you’re coming right back to do your job again.”
The good news for Iowa is it may not have to take all 10 starters to Bloomington, Ind., because the Hoosiers have just one ranked wrestler — senior Matt Powless at 197 pounds.
And the Hoosiers haven’t beaten Iowa since 1968.
“It’s relative and irrelevant,” Brands said of the travel. “You get ready to wrestle when it’s time to wrestle.”
Brands said Iowa wants to continue its annual rivalry with Oklahoma State. Scheduling got a lot more challenging this winter with National Duals taking up two weekends at the end of February.
“You’re not going to not wrestle Oklahoma State,” Brands said. “You do it. Besides, we did it in the old days a lot. It’s all good. It’s OK.”
In addition to the record, if Iowa wins Friday and Saturday, they would reach 900 dual victories in program history. Only three other schools — Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Oregon State — have reached 900 wins.
“If you don’t have a streak, we still approach it the same way,” Brands said. “What is important for me is we have 12 to 15,000 fans that are paying customers. We have to do a good job to put on a show.”
The lineup Saturday should have ranked wrestlers facing off at nearly every weight. Unranked Nick Moore is expected to wrestle again at 157, but Brands didn’t rule out Derek St. John.
“It’s always a possibility because he’s a tough nut,” Brands said. “Probably not for Oklahoma State, but the Lord works in mysterious ways.”
Without St. John, the Cowboys are favored at five weights by the rankings, the Hawkeyes are favored at four weights, and 184 is a toss-up.
“We feel we can break it open,” Ramos said. “Oklahoma State is going to come over here wanting to take our heads off, so we’ve got to be ready to take theirs off.”