The Iowa Hawkeyes have finished their non-conference portion of the season at 3-1. I think that’s a number a lot of fans and prognosticators believed this team would be sitting on through four games.
That said, how they have gotten there and what they have shown may be different than what some expected. I’ll take a look at each of Iowa’s remaining eight opponents, list what I picked them to do against that opponent in the preseason and what I believe we’ll see now based on what we’ve seen these first four weeks.
at MINNESOTA Preseason Prediction = WIN: The Gophers are off to a 4-0 start against a softer schedule than Iowa has played. They are running the ball well this year and it’s probably the best Minnesota team since Glen Mason was there. That said, they have holes and I think Iowa has a better team than they do. Jake Rudock showed moxie at Iowa State, though the Gophers are much better than the Cyclones. There might be more Iowa fans at this game than there were for the game in Ames but this stadium doesn’t get as loud as Jack Trice Stadium does. Freshman Mitch Leidner will likely go at quarterback as the Gophers rest Philip Nelson one more week (hamstring). Leidner set a quarterback rushing record this week for the Gophers but he is not the throwing threat Nelson is, and Nelson started the final seven games of last season in addition to being the starter this year. That might be a good break for the Hawkeyes and I will stay with a WIN here.
MICHIGAN STATE Preseasn Prediction = WIN: The Spartans have a bye week in advance of their trip to Kinnick. I think it comes at a good time for them as their quarterback situation is still pretty brutal and certainly undecided. Their defense is still very good and I think this game will be first one to 20 wins…if anyone gets there. I still like Iowa in this one as their running game leaves a lot to be desired, too.
at OHIO STATE Preseason Prediction = LOSS: Still thinking this one is a loss and one that could get ugly.
NORTHWESTERN Preseason Prediction = LOSS: I gave Iowa a better chance of beating Wisconsin than Northwestern due to stylistic reasons. I still feel that way but also think Iowa could beat them both. Still, I think it’s going to come down to a split in these two games and I think the odds of beating Wisconsin are better due to how Iowa plays power football better than finesse ball.
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WISCONSIN Preseason Prediction = WIN: Staying with a win
at PURDUE Preseason Prediction = LOSS: The Boilermakers are worse than I expected them to be and while they may be a better team come November, I feel better about Iowa’s chance than before and thinks the Hawks win this game.
MICHIGAN Preseason Prediction = LOSS: Michigan’s last two weeks have given a lot of people more optimism against them in Big Ten play, and Iowa fans should feel the same. The Hawkeyes have won three of their last four against Michigan in Kinnick and three of last four in the series. I’ll still slide towards a loss here but I think Iowa has a shot.
at NEBRASKA Preseason Prediction = LOSS: Wyoming had over 600 yards against Nebraska in Lincoln. UCLA scored 38 unanswered points in Lincoln. The Huskers are hardly world beaters but it’s a very tough road game and I won’t change this pick.
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I feel much better about a 7-5 record right now than I did before the season and even two weeks ago. The Purdue game is the only one where I will change my preseason pick.
What about you? Is this team ahead of where you thought they would be? Behind? About right?