You’ve seen these things before. We’ve done them before, back in basketball season.
Here’s the gist; I place a confidence percentage by each Iowa game which relates to my feelings on Iowa’s chances of winning that game, or my expectation.
If I give a game a 90% win probability, it means I think Iowa would win that game 90 percent of the time against that given foe. If it’s 25%, it means I think Iowa would only win that game 25 percent of the time against a given foe. And so on.
Confidence doesn’t necessarily equate to my prediction on the game; I will lay those out in the month of August as it relates to each Iowa foe. But this is the first step in my process of picking Iowa’s season, as well as the seasons of other Big Ten teams.
I placed a confidence percentage alongside Iowa’s final 11 regular season basketball games last winter. Of the five games I had below 50%, Iowa was 1-4 in those games. In the six games where I gave Iowa a 50% or better chance of winning, they went 4-2.
Northern Illinois in Chicago: NIU has won 11 games in each of the past two seasons, but this year will be their first without quarterback Chandler Harnish under center in a long time; he threw for over 11,000 in his career. They also lost over 71% of their rushing yards from a year ago. They have had a 1,000 yard rusher in 12 of the past 13 years and last year, that man was Harnish. Harnish left Northern Illinois as the school’s all time leader in these categories: passing yards, completions, attempts, efficiency, touchdowns and total offense. Heir apparent Jordan Lynch won’t be the weapon Harnish was through the air, but on the ground he could be better. Their defense returns eight starters from a unit that wasn’t great last year. Iowa is playing this team the right week of the season. CONFIDENCE: 75%
IOWA STATE: The Cyclones won six games last year, five of those six coming by six points or less. Two of their wins came in overtime. They found a way, but they were living on the right edge of the blade. They won’t be able to lean on outstanding left tackle Kelechi Osemele who is now in the NFL. They have two huge holes to fill on the offensive line and uncertainty at quarterback. Will Iowa face Steele Jantz or Jared Barnett? I think both will take snaps against Iowa, but given that Jantz played the best game an Iowa State quarterback has thrown at the Hawkeyes since (or before) Seneca Wallace back in 2002, I think he’ll get every chance against Iowa. They have great linebackers, but a lot of questions marks most everywhere else, including along the defensive line. Glad this one is at Kinnick. CONFIDENCE: 55%
NORTHERN IOWA: I am just glad Tirrell Rennie isn’t playing quarterback. CONFIDENCE: 75%
CENTRAL MICHIGAN: This team has had trouble scoring during the first two years of the Dan Enos era; they have topped 30 or more points just four times and have won just three games in each of the past two seasons. CONFIDENCE: 90%
MINNESOTA: Iowa has lost two in a row to the Gophers. In 2010, they did not have the will to win (according to Adrian Clayborn after that game). Last year, they failed to convert more points when they had the chance, gave up an onside kick (which can no longer be executed as it was last year, blasting the opponent before he has a chance to receive the ball) and spoiled one of the best running performances in school history. The same Gophers team that lost at home to New Mexico State and North Dakota State last year beat Iowa. The Gophers bring back their quarterback and they have a lot of experience on the offensive line (no true stars just yet), but QB MarQueis Gray is just not a great passer and Iowa must get some pressure on him while holding outside containment. They lose both DT’s and a lot of bodies in the secondary. CONFIDENCE: 65%
at Michigan State: The Spartans will be an interesting team to watch on offense as they replace quarterback Kirk Cousins and six other offensive starters, including receiver BJ Cunningham. While the Spartans did lose some stars on defense, they return eight starters from arguably the best defense in the Big Ten last year. CONFIDENCE: 35%
PENN STATE: The bad news is Iowa won’t see any snaps under center from Rob Bolden, as he has transfered from the Nittany Lions program. The good news is that it sounds like running back Silas Redd may be heading to USC. This group should still be salty on defense and won’t have a great offense. CONFIDENCE: 65%
at Northwestern: Iowa snapped their skid against Northwestern and Dan Persa is no longer around to torment the Hawkeyes. Kain Colter showed that he will be a pain to defend, however. He is a better runner than Pera (he was Northwestern’s leading rusher last year) but Persa was a deadly thrower. NW loses their top two receiving targets (including Jeremy Ebert and his 75 catches) and Colter was actually the third leading receiver last year with 43 grabs. They return three offensive linemen, all three of their linebackers and two of their defensive linemen. In other words, scrappy as ever. CONFIDENCE: 50%
at Indiana: When I went through my first blush game by game predictions, I felt Iowa would split these two back to back road games. I originally gave them a loss here. I am not sure what I am going to do when I run my final projections later in August. Some interesting numbers from PreSnapRead.com: Freshmen and sophomores accounted for 1,925 of Indiana’s 1,932 yards rushing. Freshmen and sophomores accounted for all 2,393 of Indiana’s passing yards. Indiana started 12 freshmen against Northwestern on Oct. 29, the most in the F.B.S. last fall. Eight of the 12 starters were true freshmen. Youth still rules the day: Indiana has only eight seniors on the roster. Iowa is a better team than Indiana but I just don’t have a feel for what kind of road team Iowa will be this year. Indiana returns 17 position starters. CONFIDENCE: 50%
PURDUE: This team returns eight starters on offense and seven on defense for a total of 15, the most in the league aside from Indiana and Ohio State. They also might have the best returning defensive lineman in Kawaan Short. This is a darkhorse team for a Leaders Division title, in my opinion. CONFIDENCE: 50%
at Michigan: Iowa has beaten them three straight times and when the two teams play in November it will have been more than six years since Michigan beat the Hawkeyes. Sadly, I believe that streak will come to an end this season. CONFIDENCE: 20%
NEBRASKA: Oh, how I would love to see the Hawkeyes pull the upset here. I think the Huskers will be playing for a Leaders Division title when they come into Kinnick on Black Friday…and I hope it is a black and blue (and gold) Friday for them. They return seven position starters on both sides of the ball, but they lose three offensive linemen. However, their only DL loss was Jared Crick, who barely played last year due to a neck injury. Losing Lavonte David at LB and Alfonzo Dennard at CB are big losses, but this group should be better this year than last year’s disappointing finish. CONFIDENCE: 35%
Will Iowa win all the 60% or better games? They haven’t done that for a while now. Will they win the three coin flip games? If they win all of those, it could be a surprising season, at least to my out of season expectations. What do I think their record will be? I’m still working on that one.