Best Case/Worst Case: Iowa Hawkeyes

This is a pivotal season for Iowa, which is coming off its worst year since 2000 as the Hawkeyes missed the postseason for the first time since 2007. Iowa hasn’t missed a bowl two seasons in a row since a three-year drought from 1998-2000. Kirk Ferentz made more coaching changes in the offseason, as he searches to steady a listing ship.

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Best case: Iowa barely beat Northern Illinois in last year’s opener; the Hawkeyes make amends with a convincing victory this time. Missouri State is an easy win. A trip to Iowa State always is problematic, as the Cyclones have had the number of Kirk Ferentz, who is 6-8 vs. his instate rival. Ferentz’s misery continues. But Iowa gains some mojo by winning its next three, vs. Western Michigan; at Minnesota; vs. Michigan State. A trip to Ohio State is a cold bucket of water over the head for the hot Hawkeyes. No worries. Iowa punches its ticket to bowl eligibility with an upset of Northwestern in Iowa City. (Northwestern has been Iowa’s Kryptonite, winning six of the last eight meetings entering 2012.) The Hawkeyes have an emotional letdown in a home loss to Wisconsin in their first meeting with the Badgers since 2010 but rebound to win at Purdue before ending the season with defeats at home to Michigan and at Nebraska. With a 7-5 mark, Iowa lands in a non-glamour bowl. But, it doesn’t matter. Any bowl will do for this program at this time.

Aug. 31: Northern Illinois – W
Sept. 7: Missouri State – W
Sept. 14: at Iowa State – L
Sept. 21: Western Michigan – W
Sept. 28: at Minnesota – W
Oct. 5: Michigan State – W
Oct. 19: at Ohio State – L
Oct. 26: Northwestern – W
Nov. 2: Wisconsin – L
Nov. 9: at Purdue – W
Nov. 23: Michigan – L
Nov. 29: at Nebraska – L
7-5 overall; 4-4 Big Ten

Worst case: Iowa needed a late score to dump Northern Illinois last season in Chicago; this year, the Huskies—who went to the Orange Bowl last season–will just beat a Hawkeye team that enters the season with some self-doubt. A visit from FCS Missouri State is just what Iowa needs in Week Two, but any good vibrations end with a loss at Iowa State. After knocking off Western Michigan in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes go into a funk. A big funk, losing five in a row, beginning with an emotionally crushing loss at Minnesota—where Iowa has lost the last two times it visited. The bleeding ends with a win at Purdue. But two more losses follow: at home to Michigan and at Nebraska. The Huskers have won five in succession in the series. The Hawkeyes haven’t scored more than 13 points in any of those five games. A 3-9 record (1-7 Big Ten) makes things very interesting in Iowa City.

Aug. 31: Northern Illinois – L
Sept. 7: Missouri State – W
Sept. 14: at Iowa State – L
Sept. 21: Western Michigan – W
Sept. 28: at Minnesota – L
Oct. 5: Michigan State – L
Oct. 19: at Ohio State – L
Oct. 26: Northwestern – L
Nov. 2: Wisconsin – L
Nov. 9: at Purdue – W
Nov. 23: Michigan – L
Nov. 29: at Nebraska – L
3-9 overall; 1-7 Big Ten

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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Your Opinion?
Show Comments (7 Comments)
huskerfanbb on 7/26/2013 @ 5:23pm EDT Said:

7-5 would be really optimistic. Depending on how the season unfolds for them, and other teams, they could conceivably be dogs in EVERY B1G game on their schedule since Minnesota and Purdue are both road games. I also think beating NIU (coming off a BCS berth) will be a tall order in the first game with a new QB and a lot of uncertainy on offense outside of Weisman.

I think that ultimately they’ll come in at 4 or 5 wins–but I’m not sure where those will come from. WMU and Missouri State, maybe a split with Purdue and UM, and then they’ll have to beat either NIU or Iowa State just to get to 4 wins. Even throw an upset in there against somebody and that’s still only 5.

Hawkfan52404 on 7/26/2013 @ 8:13pm EDT Said:

While the Hawks did struggle last year, they had five games with losses of less than 7 points. If Iowa can close those games out this year, and win most of the same games that we did last year, that improves things dramatically.

aboojum on 7/27/2013 @ 1:28pm EDT Said:

Iowa will rise and fall based on injuries and QB play. Iowa lacks depth at any position with the exception of TE. They are playing a QB that has never taken a snap for a FBS team. Having said that, they have some positives that could help them win a number of games that many people will think they have no chance in. First, they have a good kicker, and that will help in any close game. They have the potential to be a very physical running team, a team that can wear defenses out. They have the potential to be a very good team on the back end defensively, against the pass, but they will likely lack a decent rush. Which means they need to be timely and effective on the blitz. They have plenty of running backs that could do well…there is some size and some speed and versatility there. In short, if they stay healthy and their QB has a season where he makes a few plays, minimizes terrible plays, then their special teams and running game can keep them in the fight. Win the turnover battle a few times and they could win 7 or 8 games. But, as the Husker said, they could also really struggle with this schedule and lose a lot of heartbreakers and win only 4-5 games. Either way, the talent is improving and the coaching is in year 2 as a staff. Anything could happen here.

Patrick Lamoureux on 7/29/2013 @ 8:32pm EDT Said:

I say Iowa will atleast win all the trophy games this year, upsetting Nebraska and Wisconsin. They will have a battle against Ohio State, but everyone needs to remember the 10 win seasons, those were Iowa teams that weren’t expected to do anything. Sounds a lot like this yr to me.

Ed Crawford on 8/1/2013 @ 9:02pm EDT Said:

I wonder how fans of Nebraska, Michigan, Penn st. and that Ohio school, would react to a season like Iowa had in 2012? The fan base would be burning colors in the stadium parking lot. I hope I don’t have to burn all my Hawkeye stuff.

Ed Crawford on 8/1/2013 @ 9:06pm EDT Said:

I wounder what the odds in Vegas are that Iowa Beats Purdue in the Championship Game?
Can I put $10 on that now? lol

hoopsta on 12/22/2013 @ 5:37pm EDT Said:

Best case scenario is 7-5, huh? Looks like they went 8-4 and are playing a New Year’s Day Bowl. Here’s the great thing about preseason predictions in July: you only have to bring them up again if you were right. If you were terribly wrong, then you just move on to next year’s terrible predictions.