If there was ever a wild-card season in college football, this may be it. And if that is the case, then maybe this can be one of those years where Iowa makes a run to the Big Ten Championship Game. The Hawkeyes should be a player in the Big Ten West race this season, but the question is whether or not they can get enough of the key games to swing their way to help them in that pursuit.
With the rest of the Big Ten West potentially trending upward, there will be no guarantees for anyone in the division this fall, including Iowa. Hawkeyes also have to make a tough cross-division trip to Penn State in mid-November. An upset win in Happy Valley would be a big one for Iowa's hopes of winning the Big Ten West, but also will have their hands full navigating through division play.
Iowa Football Game-By-Game Predictions for 2020
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Wisconsin and Minnesota are the favorites to win the Big Ten West this fall, but the Hawkeyes aren’t too far behind. Provided new quarterback Spencer Petras quickly steps into the No. 1 role and the line breaks in a couple of new starters, Iowa’s offense should show improvement after averaging only 25.8 points a game last season. The Hawkeyes have a deep receiving corps and feature a rising star in sophomore Tyler Goodson at running back to help ease Petras’ transition into the starting role. The defense held teams to just 14 points a game in 2019 and should be strong again despite some turnover at every level. Road trips to Minnesota and Penn State are tough, but if Ferentz’s team can steal a win in one of those matchups, the Dec. 12 date against Wisconsin could decide the West Division champ.
Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR)
Iowa has been one of the more consistent teams in the entire country throughout Kirk Ferentz's tenure, but the Hawkeyes are a bit of a mystery entering this season. There's plenty of talent at the skill positions and the offensive line should remain solid but it will be a new, unproven quarterback leading the attack. On the other side of the ball, more than half of the starters need to be replaced on a defense that was top five in the Big Ten in all four major categories. On top of that, there has been plenty of attention focused on the program this offseason so it's fair to wonder if everyone will be on the same page at least at the start. But the biggest concern I have for this team is a schedule that has the Hawkeyes playing Minnesota, Penn State and Nebraska in a row, the first two happening on the road. Even if Iowa pulls off an upset or two along the way, I don't think this is a path that carries the Hawkeyes to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game.
Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB)
Unfortunately for Iowa, I see things starting off really well for the Hawkeyes with a 3-0 start in the books. But the middle of the schedule is where Iowa's division hoops will be boosted or deflated. Back-to-back road trips to Minnesota and Penn State will put a dent in the plans, but it will be a surprising upset loss to rival Nebraska that will really spoil things in Iowa City. Nebraska is a wild-card factor this season, and the Cornhuskers have been waiting for this moment. The Hawkeyes will still play a role in how the division plays out when they find a way to spring an upset of Wisconsin in the regular-season finale (before Big Ten championship week).