1. IOWA WIN TOTAL PREDICTION: WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN
You know what you’re about to get from yet another strong Kirk Ferentz team.
There might be some flaws and concerns with your 2019 Iowa Hawkeyes, but it’s going to be yet another hard-nosed team that might just be a whole lot better than anyone wants to give it credit for.
Yeah, the 2018 version went 8-4, but it lost to Penn State, Purdue and Northwestern all by six points or fewer, and it would’ve lost to Wisconsin by one score if there wasn’t a late oh-by-the-way touchdown.
One Outback Bowl win over Mississippi State later, and the Hawkeyes proved they were for real. They’re about to do that again, but the schedule is going to be a big, big issue, so …
Set The Regular Season Win Total At … 8
The Hawkeyes should start out 2-0 against Miami University and Rutgers, but they have to go on the road to face Iowa State, Michigan, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Nebraska.
Throw in home dates against Penn State, Purdue and Minnesota, and there are more than enough landmines to keep this from being an amazing year.
And that’s where all those close losses of last year come in. Iowa can and will be good enough to win plenty of tight games, but it’ll be on the wrong side of a few of them, too.
The interior on both lines has to go through some reworking, the running game has to be better, the kicking game has to improve, and it’s impossible to overcome the loss of one NFL franchise tight end, much less two.
Fortunately, Nate Stanley is a terrific veteran quarterback to work everything around, the running backs are solid, and the receiving corps should be just good enough to make a dent in the loss of Noah Fant and TJ Hockenson.
The defensive side has a next-man-up thing happening, but the secondary is full of potential all-stars, and AJ Epenesa might just be the best defensive lineman in college football.
At the very least, Iowa will be a part of the Big Ten West hunt, and it’s going to be a tough out each and every week.