IOWA CITY– This is the second part of Iowa’s football schedule. Last week I looked at the first six games: UNI, at Iowa State, Arizona, at Penn State, Arkansas State, and Michigan.
I predicted Iowa would be favored in every game except Penn State.
This week I’ll look at the second half schedule, which includes home games with Indiana, Northwestern and Minnesota plus road trips to Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State.
Oct. 17 at Wisconsin: Last season Shonn Greene went off against the Badgers, tying an Iowa record with four touchdowns. He also rushed for 217 yards as the Hawks rolled 36-16.
Bret Bielema, former Hawkeye captain, is in his fourth season as head man for Wisconsin. The Badgers, who finished 7-6, 3-5 in the Big Ten, return seven on offense and five on defense.
John Clay, who the Hawkeyes went after hard, is the top returning running back with 884 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground.
The Badgers have their top two receivers back, Garrett Graham and David Gilreath, but must replace three on the offensive line.
Dustin Sherer returns at QB but has to do better than completing 54 percent of his passes, including 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
It’s always a tough road trip to Madison, but Iowa could be slightly favored in an 11 a.m. kickoff.
Oct. 24 at Michigan State: For the second year in a row the Hawkeyes will travel to Spartan country. Iowa lost a tough game to Michigan State (9-4, 6-2 in the Big Ten) last year, 16-13, in a match-up of the top running backs in the Big Ten, Shonn Greene and Javon Ringer.
Both are gone to the NFL and the Spartans’ top backup, Andre Anderson, totaled only 97 yards on 27 carries.
State also has to find a new quarterback with Brian Hoyer graduating. Sophomores Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol are the top candidates.
The Spartans have six back on offense and eight on defense, including three starters in the defensive backfield.
Michigan State should be favored but the Hawkeyes always play the Spartans tough.
Oct. 31, Indiana: The Hawkeyes used the one-two punch of Shonn Greene and Jewel Hampton to roll over the Hoosiers last year at Bloomington. Shonn had 115 yards and a touchdown while Jewel ran for three touchdowns and 114 yards.
Indiana has five back on offense and seven on defense and most magazines I’ve read have them at the bottom of the Big Ten.
One of the big losses is Kellen Lewis, who was kicked off the team after breaking team rules more than once. He was a great athlete that played quarterback and was going to see some time at wide receiver this year.
That leaves Ben Chappell as the top man at QB. Ben, who played against the Hawks last year, passed for 1,001 yards and four touchdowns.
The Hoosier defense gave up 35.3 points per game last year and has to find help in the d-line with two starters back.
Iowa will be favored and hopefully can put together a solid running game like last year.
Nov. 7, Northwestern: Last year the Cats stole one from the Hawks. Iowa led 17-3 in the first half, then four fumbles and an interception resulted in a 22-17 loss.
The Wildcats have only four back on offense, eight on defense.
The key will be finding replacements for quarterback C.J. Bacher and running back Tyrell Sutton, who was a four-year starter. C.J. passed for 2,432 yards and 17 touchdowns while Tyrell ran for 890 yards and six scores last year.
Senior Mike Kafka is listed as the top QB while junior Stephen Simmons will get a shot at running back.
The Cats have all four starters back in the defensive backfield and should be solid on defense.
I look for the Hawks to be favored at home but it should be a close game.
Nov. 14 at Ohio State: The Buckeyes have been off Iowa’s schedule the last two years and even though they have only four back on offense and seven on defense, they are favored to win the Big Ten again. Boy, that’s a real shocker – they’ve won or tied for the title the last four years in a row.
Super sophomore Terrelle Pryor racked up 631 yards rushing and six touchdowns at quarterback last season. The 6-6, 235-pounder also passed for 1,311 yards and threw for 12 touchdowns.
The defense has to find replacements for all three linebackers but as usual, the Buckeyes don’t rebuild – they reload.
Columbus is one of the toughest places to play in all of college football.
Ohio State will be favored and Iowa has its work cut out as the Hawks haven’t won in Columbus since 1991.
Nov. 21, Minnesota: Last years game against the Gophers was off the charts in favor of the Hawkeyes. Iowa has played Minnesota 102 times and has a 41-59-2 record against them. The 55-0 win was the largest margin of victory EVER against the Gophers.
Six Hawks scored in the game led by Shonn Greene, who had 144 yards and two touchdowns.
Minnesota returns eight on offense including Adam Weber at QB. The 6-3, 217-pound junior passed for 2,761 yards and 15 touchdowns. His top receiver Eric Decker is back after hauling in 84 catches for 1,074 yards and seven scores.
On defense the Gophers have seven back including three in the defensive backfield. In their last four losses they gave up 29, 35, 55 and 42 points.
Iowa should be favored at home but not by 55 points.
The home schedule is nice but the road trips could be tough on the Hawks. If the defense stays steady and the ground game comes around Iowa has a shot at eight or nine wins.
Like the old saying goes, they need to play “one game at a time.”