Latest Team Rankings
Free Text Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
July 4, 2012The start of the Hawkeye football season is less than two months away. It is hard to believe, but later later this month the Big Ten Media will be gathering in Chicago and a month later Iowa fans will be invading the Windy City for the 2012 opener against Northern Illinois.
Some years, I think I have a pretty good feel for how the Iowa football team will perform. Other years, I have no feel at all. This is one of those years. I've given this year a name, The Great Unknown.
It's unknown because for the first time since Kirk Ferentz was hired, not one, but two new coordinators are on staff. One of the coordinators, Phil Parker, has been here since the beginning, but he is promising a bit of a different look on defense. The other coordinator, Greg Davis, is completely new to the Hawkeye Football program. He will certainly do things differently and more importantly, have completely new tendencies in his play calling.
Couple the new coordinators with positions coaches switching and being added to the staff, along with the loss of several key players and there are more questions than answers heading into the 2012 season for the Hawkeyes.
The good news, Iowa returns James Vandenberg at quarterback and they should be pretty solid on the back seven on defense. The unknown is who starts on both the offensive and defensive line and questions at running back and wide receiver.
The good news, the schedule is manageable for a relatively young and inexperienced Iowa team. The Hawkeyes seven home games and they almost always play well at Kinnick Stadium. A neutral site game to open the season and there are four road conference games. According to the professional betting sites, Iowa will likely be favored in nine games this season.
Can this team of Hawkeyes get to nine wins?
Here are my game by game predictions for the 2012 season.
Sept. 1st -Northern Illinois (@Soldier Field) - Technically it's a "home" game for the Huskies, but let's be honest, there will be many more Iowa fans in the stands than Northern Illinois fans. Back in 2007 the two schools faced off in Solider Field and honestly, it was an ugly game. Iowa's offense struggled, while the defense carried the day. It's a new coaching staff in DeKalb these days and the Huskies are coming off a bowl win and will be riding a nine game winning streak coming into the opener. They should have plenty of confidence and return the bulk of their defensive starters in 2012. I think there will be more offense than the last time around and Iowa will wear down the Huskies in the second half for the win. Iowa 27 Northern Illinois 17.
Sept. 8th - Iowa State - The annual in-state battle for the new Cy-Hawk Trophy returns to Iowa City in 2012. Last year the Hawkeyes blew a golden opportunity to pick up a win in Ames, eventually falling in overtime. The last time this game was played at Kinnick Stadium, Iowa handled the Cyclones, 35-7. It will be much closer than that this year and Iowa State will come ready to play. The Cyclones offense has some question marks, but they had questions last year as well and moved the ball against Iowa's defense. The team that wins the turnover battle wins this one and that will be Iowa, but it will be close. Iowa 24 Iowa State 20.
Sept. 15th - Northern Iowa - The last time the Hawkeyes and the Panthers played in Kinnick, Iowa needed a miracle to win the game. I mean, seriously, two blocked field goals in the final seconds? Who knew that the Hawkeyes would go on to win their first nine games that year and win a BCS Bowl game? I'm certainly not predicting that for this Iowa team, but a guy can dream. We know the Panthers will not be an easy out for the Hawkeyes, but Iowa should be able to wear them down and pick up a comfortable win. Iowa 31 UNI 14.
Sept. 22nd - Central Michigan - The Chippewas were bad last year, finishing 3-9, losing six of their last seven games. With a 6-18 record as a head coach, Dan Enos is sits firmly on the hot seat heading into 2012. The good news for Central Michigan is they return 8 starters on both sides of the ball, so they should be experienced and better. Enos is 0-5 against BCS schools and it should be 0-6 after this game. Iowa should win this one by a pretty decent margin and James Vandenberg could have a big day. Iowa 38 Central Michigan 17.
Sept. 29th - Minnesota - The Hawkeyes start the Big Ten season with the Gophers and continue their string of games at home. The past two years, the Gophers have pulled shockers against Iowa, winning games at Minnesota. That means Floyd of Rosedale has been gone for quite a while and the Hawkeyes will be looking to bring him back home. Iowa will have no problems with motivation after the last two years and I suspect the Hawkeye running game will be going full throttle in this contest. Iowa has a bye week the follow week, so this is an empty the tank game and a chance to start the season 5-0. If the Hawkeyes win this one, there's probably a good chance Iowa pops up in the Top 25 polls. Iowa 24 Minnesota 14.
Oct. 13th - @ Michigan State - The Hawkeyes and Spartans have had some classic games in East Lansing in recent years. None more exciting than the Iowa win in 2009 as the clock ticked to zero. The last two meetings have been in Iowa City and were blowouts in both directions, Iowa winning two years ago and Michigan State last year. The Spartans are going to be flat out nasty on defense this year, returning eight starters and sporting one of the strongest LB groups in the nation. Their offense will be led by the bruising running of Le'Von Bell, but they will be inexperienced at quarterback. I suspect another lower scoring game in East Lansing with the Spartans winning. Michigan State 20 Iowa 10.
Oct. 20th - Penn State - No program has faced more turmoil in the past year than the Nittany Lions. Those stories are well documented and it will be fascinating to watch how new coach Bill O'Brien handles his first year in Happy Valley. Penn State has plenty of questions on the field, including who ends up starting at quarterback. They return nine total starters the overall the Hawkeyes have owned this series. The last time Penn State won in Iowa City was 1999. Penn State is certainly an unknown heading into 2012 and my sense is Iowa will win this one, but it will be a close contest. Iowa 23 Penn State 20.
October 27th - As much as Iowa has controlled the Penn State series in the past decade, the Wildcats have had the Hawkeyes number in recent years. Iowa had lost five of six before winning last year in Iowa City. The Wildcats return 10 starters this year, so it's a bit of a reloading year for Pat Fitzgerald. Gone is Iowa nemesis Dan Persa, but Kalin Colter will be a handful. The game is in Evanston, so the Hawkeyes will have their hands full in a place that has been a house of horrors lately. Call this the I have a bad feeling game of 2012. Northwestern 27 Iowa 20.
Nov. 3rd @ Indiana - If you are a Big Ten team looking to have a bounce back win, Indiana is a welcome sight. The Hoosiers are still a bit of a mess one year into the Kevin Wilson era in Bloomington. Indiana won one game this year and that was over South Carolina State. Hard to see a great deal of improvement In 2012 and there are already some folks who think Wilson could be on the hot seat. Tre Roberson made his first career start against Iowa last year and did pretty well. He should be a dangerous threat this fall, but the Hoosiers have too many question marks. Iowa 28 Indiana 21.
Nov. 10th - Purdue - No team faced more adversity at quarterback last year than Purdue. They still managed to get to seven wins, including a bowl victory. The Boilers are making progress under Danny Hope, who enters his fourth season as head coach. Purdue should be strong on the defensive line, led by Bruce Gaston and Kawann Short at tackle. They should also have more stability on offense with eight starters returning. Could be a high scoring contest in Kinnick and I think Iowa pulls this one out. Iowa 31 Purdue 28.
Nov 17th - @ Michigan - Seems kind of strange to see Michigan on Iowa's schedule in mid to late November. You have to go back to 1978 to find an Iowa/Michigan game in November. Iowa has had a recent run of success against Michigan, winning the last three for the first time in school history. Expect Michigan to score quite a few points and the Hawkeyes are going to have to try and keep up. Michigan 34 Iowa 20.
November 23rd - Nebraska - The last time the Cornhuskers invaded Kinnick Stadium in 1999, they rolled to a 42-7 win against an overmatched Iowa team. I like the Friday after Thanksgiving concept for this series. I think it has a chance to be a special game and the unique date gives it that feel. Although, it was pretty ugly last year as Nebraska handled Iowa pretty good in Lincoln. Iowa will give a better showing this year on Senior Day, but will it be enough? Nebraska 24 Iowa 21.
That puts Iowa at 8-4 overall, which is probably a pretty fair outlook for a team that has a lot of question marks. Biggest question will be will there be two BSC teams from the Big Ten once again this year? If there are, and remember, Ohio State is out of the bowl mix this year thanks to NCAA sanctions, then the Hawkeyes move up the pecking order. Iowa will not go back to the Insight Bowl this year. Two years in a row is probably enough, even though it is a good bowl game. Best guess would put Iowa in the Gator Bowl against a team from the SEC.