The Iowa Hawkeyes are coming off another solid campaign in 2017, as Kirk Ferentz led the program to a bowl game for the 15th time in the last 17 years. The season was punctuated by a 55-24 thrashing of Ohio State in early November, which helped make up for Iowa finishing with a 4-5 record in conference play. However, the Hawkeyes were able to close out the season on a high, beating Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl to finish the year 8-5.
Of course, it was only a few years ago that Iowa went 12-0, won the Big Ten West, and played in the Rose Bowl. The Hawkeyes haven’t been able to match that kind of success the past couple of years. But they know they’re capable of it and they’ll be shooting to at least get back to the Big Ten Championship Game in 2018.
However, the oddsmakers are not exactly fans of the Hawkeyes this year. Iowa is listed at +40,000 to win the national championship. Even as a long shot bet, it’s probably not worthwhile to take a chance on Iowa. Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes are only projected to win the 7.5 games. However, they may be a good bet to eclipse that number.
The Hawkeyes will be led by junior quarterback Nathan Stanley, who was inconsistent last season but had flashes of brilliance. With a little more experience under his belt, he should have a good season, especially with tight end Noah Fant at his disposal. Fant scored 11 touchdowns as a sophomore last year and could be even better this season at a school known for producing great tight ends.
Defensively, there will be some key pieces to replace, most notably all three starting linebackers. However, the Hawkeyes will return most of their top playmakers on the defensive line, including a strong contingent of pass rushers that should help offset for some inexperience at linebacker and in the secondary.
|Sep 1||Northern Illinois Huskies||3:30 PM|
|Sep 8||Iowa State Cyclones||5:00 PM|
|Sep 15||Northern Iowa Panthers||7:30 PM|
|Sep 22||Wisconsin Badgers||1:00 PM|
|Oct 6||@ Minnesota Golden Gophers||1:00 PM|
|Oct 13||@ Indiana Hoosiers||12:00 PM|
|Oct 20||Maryland Terrapins||12:00 PM|
|Oct 27||@ Penn State Nittany Lions||12:00 PM|
|Nov 3||@ Purdue Boilermakers||12:00 PM|
|Nov 10||Northwestern Wildcats||1:00 PM|
|Nov 17||@ Illinois Fighting Illini||1:00 PM|
|Nov 23||Nebraska Cornhuskers||12:00 PM|
In terms of scheduling, the Hawkeyes will have a challenging September, but for the most part, they have a manageable set of games. A home date with in-state rivals Iowa State the second week of the season will not be easy after the kind of season the Cyclones had in 2017. Iowa also hosts Wisconsin in Week 4, giving them a chance to make a statement early if they can pull off the upset.
On the bright side, the Hawkeyes will also avoid most of the heavyweights from the East division, playing Penn State but avoiding Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State. Other than a trip to Happy Valley, Iowa gets their toughest games at home, including Wisconsin, Maryland, Northwestern, and Nebraska.
If Iowa can spring an upset over Wisconsin in September, they will have a legitimate chance to win the Big Ten West. Even if they don’t, they will have plenty of opportunities to pick up at least eight wins and finish no worse than third in the Big Ten West. Ferentz and the Hawkeyes are no doubt ready for another respectable season that ends with a bowl game.