Are you ready for some Hawkeye football?
Iowa Hawkeye football media day is Thursday, Aug. 8, so it’s time to talk some football.
For the next couple of weeks I’ll be looking at the schedule plus breaking down the offense, defense and special teams.
The schedule has seven homes games and three of the first four at Kinnick Stadium.
The home opener against Northern Illinois could be good look at how the season will go.
The Hawkeyes have won the last 12 opening games. The last time they lost the first game was 2000, Kirk Ferentz’s second year.
They played in the Eddie Robinson classic in Kansas City and lost to eighth-ranked Kansas State, 27-7. That was the debut of Bob Sanders, who was a three-time All-Big Ten first team pick.
Iowa finished 3-9 that season, 3-5 in the Big Ten, knocking off Michigan State, Penn State in overtime and 17th-ranked Northwestern.
The win over Michigan State snapped a 13-game losing streak... the longest in school history.
Northern Illinois Huskies
The Hawkeyes had to come from behind to beat the Huskies last year at Soldier Field in Chicago.
The Hawks trailed 17-9 starting the fourth quarter. Mike Meyer hit a 50-yard field goal and Damon Bullock scored the winning touchdown on a 23-yard run with less then three minutes left and Iowa won, 18-17.
Northern Illinois would go on to win 12 straight games, make it to a BCS game for the first time ever and lose to Florida State 31-10 in the Orange Bowl.
Heisman trophy candidate Jordan Lynch is back at quarterback. Jordan finished the season with 3,138 yards passing and 25 touchdown passes. He also ran for 1,815 yards and scored 19 touchdowns including one against Iowa.
The Hawks held Jordan to 119 yards rushing, including a 73 yard touchdown run, and only 54 yards passing.
The Huskies have four starters back on the offensive line but have to replace three wide receivers.
On defense, Northern lost three starters on the d-line, two linebackers and two defensive backs.
This is where the Hawks need to get the ground game established and the offensive line needs to take control of the line of scrimmage.
Iowa will be favored and the players and fans at Kinnick will be hungry for a victory.
Sept. 7, Missouri State Bears
The Bears finished 3-8 last year and are coached by former West High grad Terry Allen.
Their offense averaged 17.5 points, 125 rushing yards and 201 yards passing per game.
After an 0-6 start last year, Kierra Harris took over at quarterback and the Bears finished 3-2. Kierra played in nine games, passed for 997 yards and seven touchdowns. He also ran for 155 yards and scored three times.
On defense, State gave up an average of 25.4 points per game.
Iowa will definitely be favored and the Hawks need to put some points on the board. It would be nice to see some big plays in the passing and running game.
Sept. 14, at Iowa State Cyclones
The 9-6 loss to the ‘Clones at Kinnick last season was a tough one to swallow.
The Hawkeye offense could generate only two field goals, 15 first downs and 68 yards rushing. The Hawks had a chance with time running down but an intercepted pass on the Cyclone 32 ended the game.
State has five starters back on an offense that averaged 24.5 points per game including quarterback Sam Richardson.
Sam played in four games, starting two, and he passed for 541 yards and eight touchdowns. He also ran for 247 yards and scored once.
The ‘Clones have to replace three offensive lineman and all three wide receivers on offense.
Iowa State’s defense losses two of the best linebackers the ‘Clones have ever had and one of them made the interception to end the Iowa game last season. They also have to replace three defensive lineman.
The defense gave up an average of 23.9 points, 176 yards rushing and 265 yards passing per game last fall.
Iowa will be underdogs because the game is at Ames but I like the Hawks chances if they come into the game at 2-0.
Sept. 21, Western Michigan Broncos
Hopefully Iowa will be 3-0 entering this game. If they are, head coach Kirk Ferentz does a good job of not letting them get too high after a win or too low after a loss.
The Broncos finished 4-8 last season and averaged 29.3 points, 149 yards rushing and 289 yards passing per game.
They have four starters back on offense including two wide receivers, one offensive lineman and quarterback Tyler Van Tubbergen. Tyler played in 11 games, starting six. He passed for 1,825 yards and 15 touchdown passes. Tyler also ran for three touchdowns.
The defense gave up 29.7 points per game and has five starters back, only one in the d-line.
Iowa will be favored and needs to get that offensive line to dominate the line of scrimmage again.
Sept. 28, at Minnesota Gophers
This was one of the only two Big Ten wins for the Hawkeyes last year.
Iowa rolled to a 24-0 halftime lead and knocked out the Gophers, 31-13.
Mark Weisman led the way with 177 yards and an 8-yard touchdown run.
Minnesota, which finished 6-7 last year, has nine starters back on an offense that averaged 22 points per game. That includes all five offensive lineman and three wide receivers.
The defense gave up 24 points per game and has six starters back including three defensive lineman.
Minnesota could be favored because it’s a home game, but I like the Hawkeyes’ chances in Gopherland.
Oct. 5, Michigan State Spartans
Iowa’s 19-16 double-overtime victory over the Spartans was the Hawkeyes’ last win of the year. They were 2-0 in the Big Ten at the time.
Mark Weisman had 116 yards and scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Mark hurt his ankle on the run and wasn’t the same for the rest of the season.
The Spartans have seven players back on offense, including all three wide receivers. Michigan State averaged 20 points, 149 yards rushing and 209 yards passing last fall. Senior quarterback Andrew Maxwell is back. Last year he passed for 2,606 yards, 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
The Spartans return six on defense, have to replace three defensive lineman and gave up 16 points per game last fall.
This game could be a toss-up for betting lines.
It’s Homecoming for Iowa and the Hawks match up well with the Spartans.
Looking at the best start, Iowa could be 6-0... on the downside, 3-3.
Next week I’ll look at the last six games which include Ohio State and Wisconsin.