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This is one of the most consistent programs in the country and will be until Coach Kirk Ferentz decides he has coached long enough. He is always overlooked when discussing the best coaches in college football but he has amassed 168 wins during his 22 seasons in Iowa City and will have his usual physical, fundamentally sound football team in 2021. The QB is serviceable and will he be better than that? RB Tyler Goodson is ready to become a great player and excel in the run game that the Hawkeyes love. There are talented receivers and TE Sam LaPorta looks to be a star at a position Iowa loves to implement. On defense, the Hawks took some hits but have capable players coming back. They usually are good enough on that side of the ball.
Offense: Spencer Petras got off to a shaky start last year but played better in the final six games. He wasn’t great but Iowa won the last six games after losing the first two. If he develops and can be depended on to make plays that will be a huge plus. The Hawkeyes love to run the ball and they have a potential star in RB Tyler Goodson who averaged 95 yards per game in 2020. The offensive line returns the widely regarded No.1 center in the country in Tyler Linderbaum. He will anchor a line that has some holes to fill but Iowa seems to find offensive linemen. They lost two good wide-outs but Nico Ragaini and Tyrone Tracy who both have skill. And TE, Sam Laporta caught 27 passes last year and he will be featured in this offense.
Defense: Iowa lost Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year Daviyon Nixon and also Chauncey Golston from the defense that ranked in the Top 10 nationally in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense, and passing efficiency defense (whatever that is). But, there are players back led by second-team All-Big 10 defensive end Zach VanValkenburg. Seth Benson and Jack Campbell are back at linebacker and the secondary returns everybody from 2020. The defense will be sound as always.
9/11 at Iowa State
9/18 Kent State
9/25 Colorado State
Iowa has a tendency to lose a non-con game that is unexplainable. So, while on the surface it looks like Kent State and Colorado State are gimmes, the Hawkeyes have to be very careful and win these. The game against in-state rival Iowa State might be one of the best games all year long. The Cyclones have their sights on winning the Big 12 Conference and might have their best team ever.
10/2 at Maryland
10/9 Penn State
10/30 at Wisconsin
11/6 at Northwestern
11/27 at Nebraska
The conference schedule has 5 home games and Iowa seems to always lose a couple of close games in Kinnick Stadium. Purdue and Illinois are must wins. The other three games against Penn State, Indiana, and Minnesota are all toss-ups. If the Hawks sweep the home schedule they might win the West. They must win at Maryland and games at Northwestern, Nebraska, and Wisconsin are all potential setbacks.
Summary: I love the way Iowa plays and admire what they get out of their talent. Translation: They win without a lot of 4 and 5-star recruits. But, it is difficult to get to the championship level without star players and that is why they slip up and lose games they shouldn’t. It looks like another solid, well-coached team that will come up just short.
Predicted Finish: 2nd Place in the West Division
Overall Record: 8-4
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