Best Case/Worst Case: Iowa Hawkeyes

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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IOWA

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 BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, 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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