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Iowa Hawkeyes Football Preview: Predicting the 2016 season

Iowa is the reining Big Ten West division champions, but with the conference going to a nine-game schedule perhaps few teams are more affected than the Hawkeyes. With an annual matchup against in-state rival Iowa State, there is already a built-in Power 5 conference foe, yet relying on ISU to be a strength of schedule help could be a bit much.

Having said that, the Hawkeyes do get pretty lucky in avoiding the calamity that befell their B1G rival, Wisconsin, and won’t have to face the entire gauntlet that is Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State.

With the scheduling gods of the Big Ten smiling down a bit can the Hawkeyes retain their division crown and get over the B1G title game hump? Let’s see what our staff has to say about that.

2016 Iowa Hawkeyes Football Schedule

Date Opponent Time/TV Tickets
Saturday
Sep. 3
RedHawks Miami (OH) RedHawks
Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
2:30pm CT
ESPNU
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sep. 10
Cyclones Iowa State Cyclones
Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
6:30pm CT
BTN
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sep. 17
Bison North Dakota State Bison
Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
11:00am CT
ESPN/ESPN2
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sep. 24
Scarlet Knights at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, NJ
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 1
Wildcats Northwestern Wildcats (HC)
Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
11:00am CT
TV TBA
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 8
Gophers at Minnesota Golden Gophers
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 15
Boilermakers at Purdue Boilermakers
Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN
11:00am CT
TV TBA
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 22
Badgers Wisconsin Badgers
Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 29
OFF
Saturday
Nov. 5
Nittany Lions at Penn State Nittany Lions
Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA
6:30pm CT
BTN
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 12
Wolverines Michigan Wolverines
Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
7:00pm CT
ABC/ESPN/2
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 19
Fighting Illini at Illinois Fighting Illini
Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL
TBA Buy
Tickets
Friday
Nov. 25
Cornhuskers Nebraska Cornhuskers
Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
TBA Buy

*courtesy FBschedules.com.

vs. Miami (OH) Redhawks
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

Believe it or not, there was a time where Miami (OH) football was on top of the MAC heap and challenging for national relevance. That time has long since faded away and instead, Redhawks football has become a joke. It hasn’t had a winning season since 2010 and that isn’t going to change in 2016. Look for this to be a big time victory, even if Iowa has that nasty reputation for sliding down to their competition level. Some believe this a trap game, don’t count me in for that.

vs. Iowa State Cyclones
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

You don’t have to remind the Hawkeye faithful that Iowa State hasn’t been kind to them in the Kirk Ferentz era. However, it is a new era in Ames as well and that makes this game very difficult to predict. ISU wasn’t nearly as bad as its record indicated in 2015 and it has some big-time offensive firepower. Iowa’s defense is going to get a stiff test, but will ultimately pull it out in a memorable contest for the Cy-Hawk Trophy.

vs. North Dakota State Bison
Andy: Win
Dave: Loss
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

Now, this is the ultimate trap game for me. Iowa comes in after the high of beating their in-state rivals and knows Big Ten play is right around the corner. Oh, and NDSU doesn’t have Carson Wentz behind center anymore. Time to take a breather and get healthy while also winning? Not so fast, as NDSU has an FBS-caliber roster and isn’t afraid of the big, bad Power 5 conference teams. Still, Iowa’s defense will be stout enough against the passing game to make life very difficult for the Bison and I see a much easier victory than Dave. For his thoughts on the game, go to the talking10 podcast.

at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

A new era begins in Piscataway, but this will start much like the last era finished for Rutgers — with a loss. Simply put, the Hawkeyes are a machine at this point and the Scarlet Knights are just trying to figure out how all the parts get put together. Sure, a road trip that far East can be challenging, just not this season. Iowa grounds the Scarlet Knights defense down and bursts through with a second half victory.

vs. Northwestern Wildcats
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

This one is all about location, location, location. In this case, that means advantage Iowa in what actually has become a very competitive and fun series since these two have been paired up in the same division since the move to a divisional format happened in 2011. Something strange is likely to happen in this game, but that something strange means an Iowa win…I’m just not sure what specifically will happen to make it go down like that.

at Minnesota Gophers
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

Who doesn’t love a battle for a bronze pig? With Floyd of Rosedale on the line and Minnesota hungry to not have its trophy case empty anymore this has the potential to be a bellwether game for both teams. If Iowa wants to win the West, it has to win this game. If Minnesota wants to be a true contender, it also has to win this one. Truthfully, I had a hard time picking between these two because their two-deeps are so similar, but there’s something about C.J. Beathard that makes me believe he will just edge out veteran Mitch Leidner in a surprising QB duel at “The Bank.”

at Purdue Boilermakers
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

There isn’t much sadder in the Big Ten these days than Purdue football (o.k. maybe Minnesota and Rutgers basketball too). Iowa should be on its way to controlling their Big Ten West fate, and a win here will cement them as a clear leader heading in to the home stretch of the season. That’s exactly what they get as Purdue struggles to keep from getting pounded in to submission via Iowa’s rushing offense.

vs. Wisconsin Badgers
Andy: Loss
Dave: Win
Kevin: Loss
Zach: Loss

The question here is just how bruised and battered are the Badgers heading in to the battle for the Heartland Trophy? UW will come in on the heels of back-to-back-to-back games against Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State. Still, that likely makes UW desperate and hungry for a victory. It is tempting to take the home team, but ultimately it comes down to Wisconsin’s improved offensive run game and Iowa’s losses in the front seven. I’m taking the Badgers in a close, but much more entertaining affair than last season’s 10-6 debacle in Madison.

at Penn State Nittany Lions
Andy: Loss
Dave: Loss
Kevin: Loss
Zach: Loss

Call us all crazy, but I believe we all see the same combination of factors — Iowa finally being tested the week before and a nasty trip to Happy Valley here. This one is all down to PSU playing at home in front of a crazy crowd that Iowa ends up not being able to handle. Penn State jumps out to an early lead and Iowa never can quite catch up.

vs. Michigan Wolverines
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Loss
Zach: Loss

For those of you around every week at this time, here is my reminder that I just don’t believe Michigan is as good as advertised in 2016. They have a QB issue, the same running backs that have had issues the last two seasons and the same offensive line that has been slow to mature. What does Iowa have? One of the best secondaries in the Big Ten and a great group of linebackers. It all adds up to a recipe for disaster in Kinnick Stadium for the Wolverines.

at Illinois Fighting Illini
Andy: Win
Dave: Win
Kevin: Win
Zach: Win

No team is harder to look at right now and know exactly what they will look like in mid-August, let alone mid-November, than the Illini. What does intrigue me in this matchup will be the chess match between two great minds of the game — Kirk Ferentz vs. Lovie Smith. I believe Smith could win that battle, but may not have the horses to get the job done as consistently as it will take to beat Iowa. One or two big plays are the difference in this one.

vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Andy: Win
Dave: Loss
Kevin: Loss
Zach: Win

Could the Big Ten title finally come down to the Heroes Game? It would be a dream come true for those in the Big Ten front office, and it seems like most of our staff believes this game is going to really matter to the hopes of one of the participants. This one just simply comes down to home field advantage, and Iowa has it this season. It also has a much more solid situation at running back, and that will matter a lot in this one. Iowa gets the win, clinches the Big Ten West division title just in the nick of time.

 

Season Records:

Andy: 10-2 (7-2 B1G)
Dave: 9-3 (7-2 B1G)
Kevin: 8-4 (5-4 B1G)
Zach: 8-4 (5-4 B1G)

Our Projected Big Ten Standings

Andy Dave Zach Kevin
Big Ten East
1
2 Michigan State Michigan State
3 Michigan State Michigan State
4
5 Indiana Indiana  Indiana
6 Maryland Maryland
7 Maryland Maryland
Big Ten West
1 Wisconsin Iowa Nebraska Wisconsin
2 Iowa Wisconsin Wisconsin Nebraska
3 Nebraska Nebraska Iowa Iowa
4 Minnesota Minnesota Minnesota
5
6 Purdue
7 Purdue Purdue  Purdue

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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