The Iowa Hawkeyes were one of the most confusing, frustrating and important teams in college football last season. Will this team be able to go over its regular season win total of 7.5 in 2018? One fundamental question will help bettors to arrive at a possible answer… but that answer is not easy to find, not with Iowa football.
Iowa 2018 regular season win total
Odds courtesy of BetDSI Sportsbook.
What Happened Last Year
The Hawkeyes were tremendous when they played their best, and terrible when they played their worst. Iowa was great enough and talented enough to beat Big Ten champion Ohio State by a score of 55-24. When one says that Iowa was one of the most “important” teams in college football last season, that result is the basis for that claim. Iowa’s blowout of the Buckeyes caused Ohio State to be passed over in favor of Alabama for the fourth and final spot in the College Football Playoff. Iowa also played Penn State tough. The Hawkeyes led before the final play of regulation, but Penn State threw a touchdown pass to win with no time left. Iowa played four great games last season, scoring 55 against Ohio State, 45 against Illinois, and 56 against Nebraska, plus the mighty defensive effort against a loaded Penn State offense.
However, that Iowa team did not play for most of the season. The offense looked terrible in losses to Purdue at home, at Michigan State, at Northwestern, and at Wisconsin. Iowa’s points often came from defensive scores, and the Hawkeyes gave away points with their offense, which committed a number of critical turnovers which other teams turned into scores.
Which Iowa team will show up – the good one or the bad one? That will determine how well the 2018 team performs, and it’s hard to guess the right answer.
What Will Change This Year
There is no Akrum Wadley at running back, meaning Iowa will have to go without its most dependable and explosive rusher. However, Nate Stanley is back at quarterback, which gives the Hawkeyes a measure of stability. Yet, stability is relative with this team, which rarely seems to be able to play at the same level – for better or worse – in consecutive weeks.
What will make things harder for the defense is that ballhawking cornerback Josh Jackson – who came up with so many big plays last season – will no longer be on the roster. If Iowa’s offense is not hugely improved from 2017, the loss of Jackson will make it harder for the defense to compensate with interception returns for touchdowns and other impact plays which can turn a game on a dime. Iowa’s margin for error in terms of execution and precision will be smaller than last year… and it’s not as though last year’s team handled close games well. It didn’t win close ones against Michigan State, Penn State, Northwestern, and Purdue.
Outlook & Prediction
The schedule is favorable for Iowa. Northern Iowa and Northern Illinois should be wins. Iowa is in the Big Ten West, which means it plays three games against the Big Ten East. Those three East opponents are Penn State, Indiana, and Maryland. Iowa should go 2-1 in those three games. That is four wins. Then Iowa has its six games against the Big Ten West. Wisconsin should be a loss. Northwestern is a 50-50 game, but the other four games – Purdue, Illinois, Nebraska, and Minnesota – should be wins. The schedule is soft enough that the over looks like the better pick than the under.
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