Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the Iowa Hawkeyes season with what you need to know.
Preview 2018: Iowa Hawkeyes
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players, Key Game, Fun Stats
– What Will Happen & Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– Iowa Previews 2017 | 2016 | 2015
Iowa has to pounce all over 2018.
Kirk Ferentz is going into his 20th season as the Hawkeye head man. He’s seen everything in the Big Ten, won two conference titles, and came within a stop against Michigan State in 2015 of going to the College Football Playoff.
Turning 63 just before going into the season, he still has plenty of time to keep this all going, but there’s also a chance the West rises up and becomes far stronger overall.
That’s not to say Iowa can’t be a part of it, but after two decades under Ferentz, this is what the program is. As always, it’ll go to a bowl, and as always, it’ll come up with a shocking win or two when someone nasty has to make its way into Iowa City. But to win a Big Ten title for the first time since 2004?
That time might be now.
In the division, Nebraska won’t be amazing quite yet under Scott Frost. Give it two years or so, and there’s a chance the Huskers become a powerhouse again.
Minnesota is only going to get better under P.J. Fleck, and even though Jeff Brohm appears destined for bigger things, at the very least, Purdue isn’t a pushover anymore. Throw in an always okay Northwestern, throw in the shot that the youth movement under Lovie Smith at Illinois actually works, and the West might be a problem in 2019.
Oh yeah, and Wisconsin isn’t going anywhere.
Next season, Iowa has to go to Camp Randall, but it gets the Badgers in Kinnick this year. Also, that Nebraska game next year is on the road, as is the Northwestern game – those two are home games this time around.
From the East, the 2019 Hawkeyes have to go to Michigan – they miss the Wolverines, Ohio State and Michigan State this season – and have to play Penn State, too.
So while this might not be the perfect Iowa team, and there might be a whole slew of holes, the team will be good enough. Ferentz has another Ferentz team that fits the type and the system, and he has just enough good parts ready to rise up and take advantage of the timing and the schedule.
Nathan Stanley will grow into a more consistent quarterback with a big more time to work. The line will be stronger and the attack a bit more explosive after not doing enough down the field.
However, there isn’t a dangerous receiver to worry about other than TE Noah Fant, and the running back situation, while fine, won’t be quite as strong without Akrum Wadley.
Yes, Iowa always reloads at linebacker, but losing Josey Jewell and all three starters is a problem. However, safety Amani Hooker appears ready to be the next great Hawkeye defensive back, the relative no-name line should be more than fine if it can get into the backfield a bit more, and the linebackers will fill in the gaps, even if there’s going to be a bit of a drop-off.
It’s all there to be one of those Iowa years, and if it’s not, Ferentz will get to 150 wins with the program – he’s at 143 – the team will have a whole lot of good moments.
Iowa will be in for a very good season. But this year, it’ll kick itself if it doesn’t pull off a great one.