Iowa keeps pumping out wins and it’s rarely been a good idea to bet against them with Kirk Ferentz in charge, though recent allegations could change that. The Hawkeyes have hit at least eight wins each of the last five seasons to go with last year’s 10-3 record that included a bowl win over USC.
Yet, with a new quarterback, the oddsmakers set their early preseason over/under at 7.5 wins with +25 to 1 odds to win the Big Ten, third best in the West division.
QB Spot in Question
Finding a quarterback is definitely important, but it’s not like Nate Stanley stood out last season, tossing 16 touchdowns on 7.4 yards per attempt. Former backup Spencer Petras is likely to take over, especially since his competition didn’t get much time in the offseason due to the pandemic.
Fortunately, whoever wins the QB gig will be set. The line returns four starters and transfers in an experienced Indiana tackle, so that group should be steady, per usual.
Helping the quarterback is a nice set of receivers in Ihmir Smith-Marsette (722 yards, 5 TDs), Brandon Smith (439 yards) and sophomore tight end Sam LaPorta.
Throw in sophomore running back Tyler Goodson (638 yards, 5 TDs) and it wouldn’t be surprising if the offense surpassed last year’s 366.5 yards and 25.8 points per game.
Defense Solid Once Again
If that happens, reaching eight wins shouldn’t be difficult because the defense should again be dominant after allowing 304.3 yards and 13.2 points per game.
Plenty of starters are back with end Chauncey Golston maybe having the biggest target on his back since he’ll now be the guy to get to opposing quarterbacks.
Linebacker has decent experience in Djimon Colbert and Nick Niemann, while corner Matt Hankins and safety Jack Koerner lead the secondary. They probably won’t be as good as last year, but the defense should still be one of the better groups in the Big Ten.
Double Digit Wins Possible
The reason Iowa has an over/under at 7.5 wins is because it has a lot of expected close contests, namely the early two against ISU and Minnesota. Win both of those and the Hawkeyes could start 5-0 ahead of back-to-back trips to OSU and PSU.
Lose both and have trouble against Michigan State and then expectations could be lowered to seven wins. Even if they opened 3-4, the final five games are all winnable with road trips to Illinois and Purdue before the home finale against Wisconsin.
If the Hawkeyes get their quarterback figured out and their ground game can go to another level with Goodson, another eight wins is easily in range. If they start strong and get those five early wins, double-digit wins could even be possible.
2020 Iowa Hawkeyes Schedule
Sept. 5 vs. Northern Iowa
Sept. 12 vs. Iowa State (early preseason line IOWA -1)
Sept. 18 at Minnesota (IOWA +4)
Sept. 26 vs. Northern Illinois
Oct. 3 vs. Michigan State
Oct. 10 at Ohio State
Oct. 17 at Penn State
Oct. 24 vs. Northwestern
Nov. 7 at Illinois
Nov. 14 vs. Nebraska
Nov. 21 at Purdue
Nov. 28 vs. Wisconsin (IOWA +4)