It seems like Iowa goes into every season with hopes of competing for the Big Ten title, yet every year something goes wrong and they are out of the running toward the end of the season. The Hawkeyes fell apart two years ago, but Kirk Ferentz pulled the troops together in 2013 as they had eight wins and tied for second in the Legends division. This time around, they’ll be in the weaker West division and get to play their top two projected opponents in Iowa City.
The Over/Under win total for Iowa at 5 dimes sportsbook is 8.5 wins and their current odds to win the National Championship are 150 to 1.
The quarterback spot has been a worrisome spot for as long as fans can remember for Iowa. Jake Rudock was near the bottom of the Conference rankings (59% completion, 18 TDs, 13 INTs) in his first season, but plans to improve his numbers across the board. That’s going to be their main focus because it’s known the Hawkeyes have a stout running Game. Running back Mark Weisman (975 yards, eight TDs) returns along with Jordan Canzeri and Damon Bullock.
The problem for Rudock will come in the passing Game where they lack outstanding targets. Leading WR Kevonte Martin-Manley (388 yards) is back and has to do more. Freshman Derrick Willies will likely be thrown in across from Martin-Manley. The offensive line loses two starters and should be just fine with studs Brandon SCherff and Austin Blythe returning.
Defensively, Iowa will once again be one of the best in the conference. The line leads the unit with seniors Carl Davis and Louis Trinca-Pasat. The Hawkeyes are usually extremely tough to run on. The biggest question for them will be at linebacker where they lose three outstanding seniors and are replacing them with a few inexperienced players at the position. If the linebackers can build up their Game, this defense should be just fine even with a mostly new secondary.
With what should be an improved team, the Hawkeyes could contend for the West title given their Schedule, which may be one of the friendliest in the Big Ten.
Starting in non-Conference play, they have some tough Games against Ball State, Iowa State and at Pittsburgh, but those should be wins if things go to plan. Playing at Pittsburgh will be a huge one for momentum going into the Conference slate.
The Hawkeyes get a nice road Schedule of Purdue, Maryland, Minnesota and Illinois. Closing out the season with two home Games against Wisconsin and Nebraska could easily decide who wins the division. Iowa has a chance to reach double-digits and live up to their fans expectations. Of course, it’s easier said than done, especially if Rudock doesn’t improve at quarterback.
2014 Iowa Hawkeyes Football Schedule
Aug. 30 vs. Northern Iowa
Sep. 6 vs. Ball State
Sep. 13 vs. Iowa State
Sep. 20 at Pittsburgh
Sep. 27 at Purdue
Oct. 11 vs. Indiana
Oct. 18 at Maryland
Nov. 1 vs. Northwestern
Nov. 8 at Minnesota
Nov. 15 at Illinois
Nov. 22 vs. Wisconsin
Nov. 28 vs. Nebraska