2012 Iowa Football Confidence Index

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.


    God….I really hate the Huskers.  If they can only win that game and shut those obsessed lunatics up for a year, it would be heavenly for those of us in SW IA.

    • Hawkifune

      Amen,,,i agree.  There is no way they will be playing for a division title in Kinnick. I cant take another game like last yr. Evidently the coaches completely botching games the last couple yrs has Jon ready to jump off the cliff. I have to say Im there myself,….BUT,,,,50% at Indiana and 35% at home against a very average nebraska team ? I prey to the gods that isnt the case, and if it is, Barta better be getting together with his search firm…
                                                 GO HAWKS !!    FU……nebraska !!!

  • FreakinHawkeyeFan

    9&3. Losses to Mich. St. / Purdue / Mich. I hope I’m right.

    • Dcraig

      Good heavens, Jon, come out of your bunker and enjoy the season.   If I had this level of confidence, I doubt I would be able to watch or attend a game – with the possible exception of Central Michigan.

      • HNStaff

        Who says I won’t enjoy it? Young team, lots of unproven players getting a look, 75.4% of Iowa’s pre-season depth chart will have eligibility remaining for the 2013 season. I don’t define my existence by how Iowa does in a season. I don’t think this team is going to be a great team, doesn’t mean I won’t be hoping for the opposite.

      • Scott

         You only like Iowa football if you are certain they are going to win?

  • Crocodyle

    Do you really think Central Michigan could win 10 games out of 100 against Iowa??? I would say 2 or 3 at the most. UNI and NIU would beat us 1 out of every 4 games? I can’t picture that either…..10 out of 100 maybe. Your expectations seem low all around….

  • 50% for Home game with Purdue?  50% for a game at Indiana?   Very conservative picks there.  Hopefully, Hawkeyes do get on the roll for first 5 games.   If so, look out.  Don’t sleep on these Hawkeyes and their senior QB and wideout.

  • seepig

    It will be another 7-5 year under Ferentz.  I think the year will hinge on winning ISU, Minnesota, and NW or Indiana.  If they were to happen to win all 4 of those plus the UNI, CMU, and NIU games then I believe that will be equipped to find a way to win another game or two making it a surprise season.

    The way the coaching staff has botched crucial games over the past 2 seasons it figures that Kurt and Co. will find a way to brain fart on game day somewhere along the way.

  • Cbancroft83

    I think 8-4 would be a good season for these Hawks, 9-3 a really good season, and 10-2 a great season. To me, it all boils down to how JVB plays on a consistent basis and whether the defense and special teams can grow up fast! Let’s go Hawks!

  • Dwilkins

    I’m hoping for an 8-4 season. I’m a bit surprised by the confidence points placed on Indiana and Purdue, as well as Minnesota. We should blast those teams.

  • Grady

    6-6.  Purdue beat Ohio St. last year and has most of their team back — agree they will be salty and tough.  QUESTION:  with the new onside kick rule, does the kicking team have to allow the receiving team a chance to pick up an onside kick that is squibbling on the ground?  Or only a chance to catch it if it’s in the air?  Even most onside air kicks are being bounced off the ground once before it flies high in the air.  Are kickers allowed one bounce on the ground?  Does 2 bounces make it a ‘ground ball’ and therefore anybody who gets to it first?  How about if a ‘fly ball’ lands on the ground closer to a receiving team player…do they get first chance to pick it up? 

    • Ryebread

      I agree with this, Purdue is going to be good!  Not division winners, but good.

  • Larry Flint

    Okay Jon … you’re in the realm of drawing inferences.  I dig it.  However, if you’re going to provide p-values (your probabilities), you also need to specify your confidence intervals.  Considering that you’re estimating things from the hypothetical outcomes of 100 games, you’d be able to approximate your p-values pretty well based on whether the binomial process limits to either a normal or Poisson process.

    So come on man!  Crank the numbers!

  • BHawk326

    Based on the numbers John has put forth he predicts Iowa will have 6.65 wins to 3.35 losses.  It breaks down to 2.95 wins to 1.05 losses in the non-conference and 3.70 wins to 4.30 losses in the Big Ten.  These numbers also predict Iowa has a 76.68% chance of being bowl eligible (6 or more wins) at the end of the season.

  • hawkiherky

    Seriously?  Nebraska at Kinnick 35%?  Evan ask fans from Ohio St. and Michigan . . . Iowa’s a different animal at home.  Certainly don’t see snything special about Nebraska.  Their offense won’t be that great unless their shot put-heavin’ QB learns to throw the ball halfway decent, And they easliy lost the heart and soul (and talent) of their defense with the departure of Dennard, Crick and David.  I have a very good Nebraska friend who gets quite a bit of inside info and he is somewhat concerned about both of their lines at this point.  There’s a lot of football to come, but for now, I’m giving the Hawks 55% in this one.  It’s at home.

    • Husker1960

      I, too, think Nebraska just might be playing for the division title when they visit Kinnick. If you think the Huskers might not be as good as last year then you’re underestimating them. With a three year starter at qb and a possible Heisman candidate at running back and both tight ends and 7 of their top 8 receivers all returning, Nebraska will be scoring lots of points. They lose three offensive linemen but hey, they’re linemen. They’re not skill position players. And on defense Nebraska returns 3 linemen and the guy who replaced Crick most of last year, two linebackers and two defensive backs. Replacing David at linebacker is Juco lb Zaire Anderson, a hitter with speed and replacing Dennard at db is Juco db Mohammed Seisay, 6’4″ 215 pounds. The defense will be good as well. Nebraska’s schedule is brutal once again but winnable. If both Iowa and Nebraska are relatively healthy when they play each other I think Nebraska wins a close one. Sorry. Just my opinion. 

      • hawkiherky

        You must have missed the “shot put-heavin’ QB” phrase I posted.  Your TE’s weren’t utilized that much last year.  Talent doesn’t matter unless the ball can get into their hands.  If Martinez hasn’t noticibly improved his passing skills (such as Dennard Robinson did), The TE’s and receivers won’t matter that much.  Can’t win all year just handing off to Burkhead all the time, and Martinex might be fast, but if he runs too much, he will get hurt as he has in the past.  My point was, if he is not a better passer, your offense won’t score as many points as you’re predicting when they play quality opponents.  If he is, then you have a chance.

        Anderson and Seisay will not likely be as good as Dennard and especially David, either.  You may get most of the D-line back, but they underachieved last season even with Crick and I really don’t think Kaczenski will help them much.  He’ll play 4 guys all game, and not sub, even if it’s close and they are sucking wind so bad they can barely stand up and look like slow-motion out there when the game’s on the line.  I guess I could say you’re overestimating them as much as you think I am underestimating them, IMO.

        By the way, have you ever asked a QB how important offensive linemen are? 

        • Husker1960

          Martinez worked with a passing coach in Southern California. Apparently, Martinez has cleaned up his footwork and his passing mechanics problem. Nobody got to see whether he did or not because the spring game got canceled in Lincoln due to tornadoes being in the area the day of the game. I think the passing game will be just fine. And handing off to Burkhead all year won’t happen with quality backup running backs like Abdullah, Heard, Marrow,(Alabama transfer),  and Cross getting their fair share of carries this fall. Burkhead will actually be much fresher and rested because he won’t be carrying the ball as much. You missed my point about the offensive line. I didn’t mean the offensive linemen weren’t important. I meant replacing them is easier than replacing skill position players. The defensive line was very injured last year but still managed to help the team win 9 games playing a brutal schedule. I think they will be just fine. If you saw highlight videos of Anderson and Seisay you’d probably change your opinion of them. They are studs. Nobody will ever replace David but Anderson is no slouch. Only four weeks until kickoff. Here’s to both our teams being very successful and to a spirited, well played battle when they meet in Kinnick. 

  • Kenthall66

    I think I might go with 65% on Indiana. With ISU at home I’m 65% on them too. The other one I really think we have a better shot than predicted with is Nebraska, I put that game at about 50%. While I would agree that beating Michigan this year is a long shot, 20% is too low IMO. I’m more 35-40% on that one. Hoping for 8-4. 9-3 would be unbelievable.

  • Kbock

    Miller-Time is sound slike you know yer stuff. Year of the TE at Iowa…sounds good to me! No running back….and NOT able to stop the run…YIKES!!! I have been watching Iowa FB for 30+ years…and Iowa could always be counted on to be tough against the run….but I fear you maybe right???

  • 4hawkfanz

    History shows Iowa is a 7-5 program year to year. I don’t see this year being any different

    • HNStaff

      What are you talking about? I seem to recall an 11-2 season a few years back…and a 9-4. Iowa hasn’t had fewer than 6 wins in a season in the last 11 years. Iowa has averaged a record of more than 8 wins a year and under 5 losses a year since 2001.

  • hawk4life

    i say 9-3. we always seem to do better when there is no expectations. probly lose to the mich. schools. and then there is the one that will leave us scratching our heads.

  • Scarberry

    Nebraska doesn’t have a hard schedule Michigan state has a tuff schedule. U hunker fans are dilusional. I would give the hawks a better percentage of winning but for now it does no good. We should beat Nebraska barring injuries and for the love god a running back not being a scumbag.

Latest News

  1. Football WDM

    May 29 Jon Miller

    HN Podcast: Early College Football Point Spreads>

  2. B1G Indy Lucas Oil Stadium Field

    May 29 Jon Miller

    Can ESPN Afford Big Ten Contract?>

  3. Iowa Baseball

    May 28 Jon Miller

    Hawkeyes Advance to B1G Baseball Title Game>

  4. Iowa Baseball

    May 26 Sean Neugent

    Iowa Upsets Top Seeded Minnesota>

  5. Akrum Wadley

    May 26 David Schwartz

    100 Days & Five Questions>