Last year, Iowa had a legitimate chance to upend Wisconsin and reach the Big Ten title Game, but after a hard-fought 17-9 home loss, the Hawkeyes couldn’t recover and finished with three Conference losses. While they beat Michigan and Nebraska, this team lost a lot of that talent and there are multiple questions on both sides of the ball for them.
Offensively, the obvious issue is at quarterback where Nathan Stanley and Tyler Wiegers will battle it out for the starting job with C.J. Beathard gone. Neither did much noteworthy in the spring, which could eventually lead to a QB competition throughout the season. While Matt VandeBerg and Jerminic Smith should be ready at wide out, it may not matter if they don’t figure out the QB position. The Hawkeyes brought in new offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, who wants to open things up, but that may not be possible. This offense will go through the ground Game once again with Four starters back on the offensive line. That should lead to plenty of room for Akrum Wadley (1,081 yards, 10 TDs) and backups Toren Young and Toks Akinribade.
It’s hard to see the defense being as good as it was last year allowing just 17.9 points per Game. Still, they return at least one player at every level, so it’s not like it will be a complete drop off on this side of the ball. Top safety Brandon Snyder got hurt in the spring, so that’s an obvious problem, but Jake Gervase looked great in the spring Game and Miles Taylor joins him. The loss of Desmond King is another problem at cornerback, but the Hawkeyes should be loaded at linebacker with experienced guys in Josey Jewell, Ben Niemann and Bo Bower. The secondary was torched at times last season and that could happen again in 2017.
With yet another manageable non-Conference slate, Iowa should look great going into Big Ten play. Still, a home Game against Penn State followed by a trip to East LAnsing could give them two quick losses. If they don’t figure out their quarterback situation, those losses are than possible. It doesn’t get easier with Northwestern, Wisconsin and Nebraska all on the road to go with Ohio State coming to Iowa City.
Despite finishing second in the West last season, there’s a reason their odds aren’t so great to win the Conference (+3000 at 5Dimes Sportsbook). Projected to finish Fourth in the West, the Hawkeyes have an uphill battle. Even if their running Game is as good as it was a year ago, that may not mean anything with a more difficult Schedule, unless they can upset a top team like Penn State or Ohio State (a la Michigan last year).
2017 Iowa Hawkeyes Football Schedule
Sept. 2 vs. Wyoming
Sept. 9 at Iowa State
Sept. 16 vs. North Texas
Sept. 23 vs. Penn State
Sept. 30 at Michigan State
Oct. 7 vs. Illinois
Oct. 21 at Northwestern
Oct. 28 vs. Minnesota
Nov. 4 vs. Ohio State
Nov. 11 at Wisconsin
Nov. 18 vs. Purdue
Nov. 24 at Nebraska