IOWA CITY, Iowa – It’s that time of year again when I look like Kreskin or Uri Geller. Google it. I am old.
Last year I predicted that Iowa Football would finish the regular season 9-3. It became 10-2. I missed the Iowa State, Purdue and Minnesota games.
According to Sports Illustrated, the Hawkeyes will face the 22nd toughest agenda in the country this fall. Phil Steele arrange the slate no. 28.
By comparison, Steele rated Iowa’s ’21 schedule at 50. It didn’t include the Big Ten East powerhouses Ohio State and Michigan, which will be on the lineup this year.
The Hawkeyes last played against the Buckeyes and Wolverines in the same season in ’13. They lost 34-24 in Columbus and defeated the Wolverines 24-21 in Iowa City. The results were the same in ’10 and ’09, when both bluebloods were on the schedule.
In the 23 years that Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz ran the program, the Hawkeyes played against Ohio State and Michigan seven times in the same season. They didn’t swipe those programs in the same year and have only been swept twice (’05, ’06).
Iowa will host three of the trophy game’s four opponents in ’22. Iowa State, Wisconsin and Nebraska come to Kinnick Stadium, while the Hawkeyes travel to Minnesota.
Steele ranks Iowa as the number 20 team in the country to start the season. Oddsmakers put the Hawkeye over/under win total at 7.5.
A difficult schedule offers opportunities. If Iowa successfully navigates it, it could reach great heights this fall.
Here’s how I see it vibrate:
South Dakota State in Iowa, Sept. 3, 11 a.m. CT, FS1
Did you know?: SDSU’s top tackler from last season, Adam Bock, is from Solon (IA) High. Hawkeye linebacker Seth Benson, a resident of Sioux Falls, was verbally committed to the Jackrabbits for six months before Iowa offered it.
Thin: For the uninitiated, this game is meant to be a walk-over for the Hawkeyes. They know better because they fell from FCS in ’16 in the state of North Dakota and have their hands full with Northern Iowa several times. The Jackrabbits are more formidable than many FBS programs. If Iowa stumbles into this, SDSU could upset it. That said, if the Hawkeyes are hoping for a special season, there’s no point in losing the opener.
Forecast: iowa 30, SDSU 10
Iowa State in Iowa, Sept. 10, 3 p.m. CT, BTN
Did you know: Iowa’s winning streak of six games in the series equals the second longest ever (1916-20, ’33). The Hawkeyes won 15 in a row from ’83-’97. ISU’s best run was five in a row (’98-’02).
Thin: Iowa won at Ames last season against what was expected to be one of the best teams in cyclone history. While coach Matt Campbell has worked wonders at ISU, he has failed to catch up with his cross-border rival, trailing a 0-6 record against Iowa. I picked the Cyclones to win this competition last year because I thought they were better on paper. I feel exactly the opposite this season. The Hawkeyes have a head start in experience and enjoy the home field in ’22. You can’t explain why something weird happened in this series, so I can only go with logic.
Forecast: Iowa 24, Iowa State 16
Nevada in Iowa, Sept. 17, 6:30 p.m. CT, BTN
Did you know: These teams are playing for the first time ever. Also, in Reno, Nevada, where the university is located, there were 550 people playing checkers to win the world record for most people playing checkers at once in ’14.
Thin: A match-up designed as a homecoming for Hawkeye alum Jay Norvell lost some luster when he left Reno to coach the state of Colorado last season. Some of the lost juice was reinjected by schedule makers who showcased this game at Kinnick Stadium. The Wolf Pack has an all-time score of 3-25 against Power 5 schools after winning over Cal a year ago. It was Chosen to finish fourth in the six-team Mountain West, West Division at conference media days last month. Nevada lost nine starters on offense, including the quarterback, top seven receivers and four linemen.
Prediction: Iowa 34, Nevada 9
Iowa in Rutgers, September 24, TBA, TBA
Did you know: Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano was the Ohio State defensive coordinator when Iowa beat the Buckeyes 55-24 in ’17. Rutgers was founded in 1766, making it the eighth oldest university in the country.
Thoughts: Schiano enters Year 3 of Tenure 2 with an overall mark of 8-14 and a record 5-13 Big Ten in his first two seasons back. The Scarlet Knights had dropped 21 conference games in a row before his return. Amazingly, Rutgers hasn’t won a Big Ten game at home in four years. Schiano has upgraded the talent in North Jersey, but it remains to be seen how much ground he has made to dig out of a huge hole. It’s a dangerous place for the Hawkeyes as they travel halfway across the country for their first road race of the season.
Prediction: Iowa 20, Rutgers 13
Michigan in Iowa, October 1, TBA, TBA
Did you know: Iowa has scored three runs in each of its last two encounters with the Wolverines and 20 in total the last three times the teams have faced each other. The Hawkeyes won 14-13 against previously unbeaten Michigan in ’16.
Thin: It’s the rematch of the December Big Ten Championship game in which the Wolverines steamed Iowa in Indianapolis. These teams prefer to be undefeated at this point in the season and the match-up serves as the clear headliner for this week’s conference, likely putting it in the national spotlight. Michigan has won the last two meetings in this series. Ferentz set a 7-7 record against the Wolverines, including four wins in a row against them at Kinnick Stadium. This smells like one of those memorable experiences in the historic location.
Prediction: Iowa 17, Michigan 16
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Iowa in Illinois, October 8, TBA, TBA
Did you know: Born in Chicago, famed children’s author Shel Silverstien was expelled from the University of Illinois school after just a year due to poor grades.
Thin: Talk about a fall/let-down game. Iowa needs to be sharp in Champaign, a place where it has won four times in a row. The Hawkeyes have recorded their last eight games in the series, the last loss coming in ’08. Ferentz is 13-3 all-time against the Illini. Upon his return to the Big Ten, Iowa alum Bret Bielema was unable to coach at Kinnick Illinois last season due to a positive test for COVID-19. The storyline about him versus his alma mater seeking an upset should make a lot of headlines this week. He was 3-2 against the Hawkeyes while leading Wisconsin from ’06-’12.
Prediction: Iowa 28, Illinois 16
Iowa, Ohio, October 22, TBA, TBA
Did you know: A Buckeye tree will be planted in the Buckeye Grove at Ohio Stadium for every player who earned All-American status the previous season.
Thin: Iowa should go to The Shoe with a lot of motivation, some of which comes from more than one dog with three touchdowns. These teams come to this meeting after a farewell week and leave a lot of time for building up if both are unbeaten. The Hawkeyes’ last win in Columbus came in ’91. They have lost seven in a row. Ferentz is 2-8 against the Buckeyes, but Iowa won the last meeting, 55-24, in ’17 over Kinnick. The Hawkeyes have a good chance here with a strong game plan and a clean performance, but it’s clearly their toughest game of the season.
Forecast: Ohio State 31, Iowa 17
Northwestern in Iowa, Oct. 29, 2 p.m. CT, TBA
Did you know: The Hawkeyes won 21 games in a row against Northwestern from ’74-’94. Since then, the Wildcats have a 14-11 advantage.
Thin: Iowa faces a nemesis for the second year in a row for its annual homecoming. It hopes for a better than last fall’s 24-7 debacle against Purdue. The Wildcats have won on their last three trips to Kinnick Stadium, capturing a total of four of the last six encounters in this series. The Hawkeyes won in ’21 and won 17-12 at Evanston. Northwestern has posted 3-9 records in two of the last three seasons, winning the Big Ten West Division in between. It’s hard to predict what the ‘Cats will look like this fall, but it would be foolish to think of them as a layup for Iowa.
Forecast: iowa 19, Northwest 12
Iowa on Purdue, Nov 5, TBA, TBA
Did you know: Muppets creator Jim Henson grew up with Theodore Kermit Scott. Scott was a professor of philosophy at Purdue University and the namesake of Henson’s most famous muppet, Kermit the Frog.
Thin: Another thorn in the side of the Hawkeyes, Purdue will be deploying two of Iowa’s top receivers from a year ago here. About Tyrone Tracy Jr. and Charlie Jones will be talked about a lot this week after leading Iowa City during the off-season. In any case, David Bell is leaving for the NFL after tearing the Hawkeyes apart three years in a row. The Boilers have won four of their last five games in this series, including the last two. Their offense gives Iowa successful defensive coordinator Phil Parker, who has scored at least 24 points in the last five matchups. The Hawkeyes have averaged 17.4 per game over the period.
Forecast: Purdue 24 Iowa 21
Wisconsin in Iowa, November 12, TBA, TBA
Did you know: Nirvana has recorded part of his breakthrough album Never mind in Madison, Wisc., home of the University of Wisconsin.
Thin: For the third week in a row, the Hawkeyes face an opponent who has had their number. The Badgers have claimed five of the last six games in the series and eight of the last 10. That includes a 27-7 win at Madison last season. It’s been a pretty consistent formula for Wisconsin vs Iowa – run the ball and stop the run. The Badgers had a hasty advantage of 166-24 in ’21. They are favored to win the West this season and that’s due to the pressure that they haven’t claimed the division since ’19 after taking three of the previous four crowns.
Forecast: Iowa 13, Wisconsin 10
Iowa in Minnesota, Nov 19, TBA, TBA
Did you know: The tasty honeycrisp variety originated in an apple breeding program at the University of Minnesota.
Thin: Do Floyd or Rosedale remember what it’s like to live in the Twin Cities? He last lived there in ’14. The Hawkeyes have won seven in a row and nine of their last ten encounters in the series. Minnesota is considered a title contender in the West and winning the division could be tantamount to surpassing their rival in the South. It has an accomplished quarterback in Tanner Morgan and one of the league’s top running backs in Mo Ibrahim. A talented host core, led by Chris Autman-Bell, also returns.
Forecast: Minnesota 23, Iowa 20
Nebraska in Iowa, Nov. 25, 3 p.m. CT, TBA
Did you know: The process for making McDonald’s McRib sandwich was developed at the University of Nebraska.
Thin: Perhaps Scott Frost of Nebraska and his Minnesota counterpart, PJ Fleck, could start a support group for Iowa-owned programs. Neither man has defeated the Hawkeyes during their tenure. Last year had to be especially difficult for the Huskers, who led Iowa 21-6 with 5:54 left in the third quarter before falling 28-21. Nebraska has remade its roster and coaching staff during the off-season and the pressure is on Frost. Who knows? Perhaps this will be his last match coaching his alma mater.
Forecast: Iowa 31, Nebraska 20
Final record: 9-3
Latest Big Ten record: 6-3
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