"They opened up holes for whoever's been at tailback this year. So, we feel confident that we have plenty of guys that can fill that role," Vandenberg said.
Iowa also appears to have a rather unique ability to keep forging ahead when its situation appears hopeless.
Iowa trailed all afternoon against Northern Illinois in the opener, but Damon Bullock's 23-yard TD run late in the fourth quarter helped it hold off the Huskies 18-17.
On Saturday, the Hawkeyes went 68 yards on their final drive of regulation to force overtime at Michigan State. Even though Iowa could only muster a pair of Mike Meyer field goals, cornerback Greg Castillo's interception of Andrew Maxwell sealed the win.
"To be honest, you've got to practice that, to be mentally strong. It doesn't just happen, week in and week out," senior cornerback Micah Hyde said. "We know it's going to be tough. We know it's going to be a hard-fought game. But in the end, we're prepared and we're mentally strong."
Iowa's fortitude has helped put it in position to play meaningful games from here on out.
After hosting the Nittany Lions, the Hawkeyes have their only back-to-back road games of the season at Northwestern and Indiana. Iowa then returns home to host Purdue.
The idea of Iowa having a legitimate shot at the Legends Division title seemed unthinkable after the loss to the Chippewas at home. But for a team whose upperclassmen are "all in," according to Ferentz, anything appears possible in the Big Ten this season.
"They're showing the younger guys how to act and how to do things. Good teams have that. Bad teams typically don't. There's a lot going on behind the scenes that maybe you don't see," Ferentz said.
Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP