The Iowa Hawkeyes are at No. 24 in the CFN 2016 College Football Rankings. What are the 5 things that matter going into the 2016 Iowa season?
The Hawkeyes just might do it again
The biggest surprise of 2015 has the talent, experience, fire and potential to crank it all back up again. More importantly, the schedule isn’t all that bad. There might be a road trip to Michigan to deal with, but overall everything is place to go on another terrific run.
More of the same on offense
This won’t be the most explosive of attacks, but it’ll be tremendously effective with the running game controlling the clock, C.J. Beathard and the passing game looking efficiently effective, and ball control being at a premium. The receiving corps is the relative weakness, but the backfield will be terrific.
Can the defense keep taking the ball away? Yup.
Helped by the return of Thorpe Award-winning corner Desmond King, the secondary is a brick wall, while the run defense should be just strong enough to be feisty again. The problem is the pass rush that’s not going to be there on a consistent basis, but there’s too much talent – and too much depth – for the defense to not be a takeaway machine again.
Turnover margin, turnover margin, turnover margin
Iowa is good, but it’s not good enough to get by against the better teams without winning the turnover battle like it did last year. This isn’t that hard. Iowa was -6 in turnover margin in 2014, and was 1-5 in 2013 when it lost the turnover battle. In 2015, Iowa was +11 and was only on the wrong side in the losses to Michigan State and Stanford, and the opener against Illinois State.
What Does This All REALLY Mean?
The Hawkeyes will be good, but will have to “settle” for 9-3. They won’t create all the same breaks they had last year, they’ll lose a couple of key West games, and ultimately miss out on the Big Ten Championship Game. At the very least, Iowa will be a player again.