Iowa is the lone competition in the Big 10 West. Every couple years, the Hawkeye’s challenge Wisconsin for the crown. Iowa hasn’t beat Wisconsin in a few years, but they open Big 10 play at home against the Badgers, a must watch game in the Big 10. Also last season, we had the first season of the wave, one of the most beautiful scenes in college football.
Iowa has not been always been a school that attracts the best recruits nationwide, but this year they ranked 40th nationally and 7th in the Big 10. Iowa landed recruits in spots like linebacker, after 3 starters departed the team. After sending DB Desmond King to the NFL, the Hawkeyes landed 2 4-star backs Julius Brent and Dallas Craddieth. The only question remains, will this be enough to finally beat the Badgers.
There really is no quarterback controversy in Iowa City. Nate Stanley returns as the main man for the Hawkeyes. In 2017, Stanley passed for 2,437 yards, 26 TDs and 6 interceptions on a 56% completion percentage. If Stanley continues his dominance, he will set records for the Hawkeyes as one of the best passers in school history. Backups for the Hawkeyes are Peyton Mansell as the main back up and True Freshman Spencer Petras who is from the same high school as LA Rams QB Jared Goff.
Nick Easley was the lone receiver that had over 500 yards a game last year, however 8 different receivers caught touch downs for the Hawkeyes and 6 different receivers caught more than 10 passes. But here is the kicker, of those 6 receivers, only 3 receivers were true wide receivers. Iowa’s biggest contributor on offense was RB Akrum Wadley who had 1109 yards, and 10 TDs on the ground. Wadley will be missed in Iowa’s backfield and will leave huge shoes to fill. So who will be Iowa’s next 1000 yard rusher? Well this year will be a toss up between sophomores Ivory Kelly-Martin and Toren Young. The pair only had 377 yards on 65 attempts last year with 5 TDs. Iowa has always had strong linemen (something about the corn in the Midwest creates great linemen) and should create strong running lanes for the young backs.
Iowa had one of the best defenses in the nation, ranking 14th in the nation for fewest points allowed and 1st in the nation in interceptions. But the 2018 crew will have a lot of replacements with Josh Jackson and 3 DBs leaving for the NFL. With the amount of attrition, the Iowa defense may not be able to bail out the offense and if they want any chance at beating Jonathan Taylor, Alex Hornibrook and the Wisconsin Badgers, the Hawkeyes will have to play close to mistake free.
Iowa has a favorable schedule this year with no games against Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State. Night games at Kinnick Stadium are something special and a place where Big 10 East team’s playoff hopes come to die. Last season the Hawkeyes beat Ohio State at home 55-24 and were very close at toppling Saquan Barkley and Penn State. But this year, the only night game of significance at Kinnick will be against Wisconsin. If Iowa can beat the Badgers, the Hawkeyes will be looking at a 10 or 11 win season and hopefully a trip to the B1G 10 Championship.