Hawkeyes Head Coach Kirk Ferentz heads into his 16th season at Iowa with a lot of promise as his team turned a 4-8 season in 2012 into an 8-5 campaign in 2013. Historically under Ferentz, the Hawkeyes have 2-3 year stretches of greatness and this year may be the first year of his next greatness wave. The Hawkeyes return their starting quarterback from a year ago, junior Jack Rudock, who threw for over 2300 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also threw 13 interceptions which will be a big key for the Hawkeye offense as they won’t have a stifling defense (18.9 points per game and 303 yards per game) to rely on as they did in 2013. Former walk-on fullback-turned-running back Mark Weisman returns for his senior season in Iowa City after opening the season last year with three straight 100+ yard performances but was injured for the last half of the season but still finished with almost 1000 rushing yards (975). One positive that the Hawkeyes can take from the 2013 season is that they went 4-1 on the road against a much tougher road schedule than they will face in 2014.
Iowa opens the 2013 season against in-state upstart Northern Iowa followed by Ball State before welcoming bitter instate rival Iowa State to Kinnick Stadium for the annual battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy. The Hawkeyes finish their out-of-conference schedule on the road against ACC opponent Pittsburgh. In the Big Ten, Iowa dodges Ohio State and Michigan State from the Eastern division but travel to new Big Ten opponent Maryland in mid October. Other Big Ten road games include Purdue, Minnesota and Illinois. November is where Iowa will have to make their push towards a division and Big Ten crown as they open the month at home against Northwestern after a bye week and then close the season with two extremely important back-to-back home games against Wisconsin and Nebraska.
The Iowa Hawkeyes always seem to be a sexy pick for contrarians because for some reason or another, they were always the anti-Ohio State and the anti-Michigan. This year picking Iowa to have a solid season and contend for the Big Ten title isn’t odd at all, in fact, it is quite smart. They return a nucleus of an offense who averaged over 26 points per game in 2013 while being banged up and defensively the Hawkeyes have begun to build a solid rotation of extremely talented defensive lineman over the years. If Iowa can get to the month of November without many injuries and continue their winning ways at home, the Hawkeyes can make a push for the Big Ten West crown and maybe a Rose Bowl birth.
Stay logged on to Sowegalive.com for Team #20 on Monday and tune in to the Southern Football Report every Saturday from 10am-Noon starting on August 23rd! Here is a hint for Team #20: This team’s university has accounted for over 100 Olympic medals.
#25 – Michigan Wolverines
#24 – Northwestern Wildcats
#23 – Boise State Broncos
#22 – Arizona Wildcats
#21 – Iowa Hawkeyes
#20 – ???????????