2017 football season review: Iowa Hawkeyes
Kirk Ferentz’s 19th season in Iowa City was filled with ups and downs. Still, there was a lot to like during a 7-5 season that produced a fourth bowl in a row and 15th in 17 seasons.
The Hawkeye offense too often slumbered, costing it in several games. Iowa scored 19 or fewer points in six of eight games this season, as the Hawkeye attack ranked No. 10 in the Big Ten (340.3 ypg) with new QB Nathan Stanley at the controls. Injuries on the offensive line proved costly, as Iowa had to start a true freshman (Tristan Wirfs) and a redshirt freshman (Alaric Jackson) for much of the year at the tackle spots. As a result, the Hawkeyes ranked just 11th in the Big Ten in rushing (142.4 ypg).
The defense was up to its usual standards, led by linebacker Josey Jewell and cornerback Josh Jackson. Still, Iowa was plagued by inconsistency in an up-and-down season.
Record: 7-5 overall; 4-5 Big Ten/T3rd in West
Bowl: Pinstripe vs. Boston College
High point: The zenith of the season was an epic 55-24 win vs. then-No. 3 Ohio State. The Hawkeyes had scored just 27 points in their two previous games, against Northwestern and Minnesota. It was a defeat that in all likelihood cost the eventual Big Ten champion Buckeyes a spot in the playoff. Another highlight has to be the wild 44-41 comeback overtime win at Iowa State to make the Hawkeyes 3-0.
Low point: After that 55-24 win vs. Ohio State, Iowa was flying high … and thinking big. Alas, the No. 25 Hawkeyes failed to capitalize on the momentum and lost 38-14 the next week at No. 6 Wisconsin in a Big Ten West showdown game. How bad was Iowa? It had just 66 yards vs. the Badgers a week after notching 487 yards vs. OSU. And the Hawkeyes’ only points came on defense. The Hawkeyes followed that ugly effort with a 24-15 home loss to a 4-6 Purdue team.
Offensive MVP: RB Akrum Wadley. He was a consensus third-team All-Big Ten choice, becoming just the fourth Hawkeye to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. Wadley had 1,021 yards in 2017 and 1,081 yards in 2016. The 5-11, 195-pound big-play senior also was a factor in the passing game, hauling in 26 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns.
Defensive MVP: Have to go with two guys: LB Josey Jewell and CB Josh Jackson. The 6-2, 230-pound Jewell, a senior, was voted the Big Ten Linebacker of the Year after leading the league in tackles with 123. Jackson was voted Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year, leading the Big Ten in picks with seven. And the 6-1, 185-pound junior ran back two for TDs.