2019 Iowa Hawkeyes Football Predictions and Odds to Win National Championship
There are things you could knock the Iowa Hawkeyes for if you wanted, but coaching stability is not one of them. Hayden Fry coached his 20th and final season in 1998. He handed the reins to Kirk Ferentz, who had been an assistant for Fry since the 1980's, and Ferentz is entering his 21st season with the program. Two coaches in 41 years. Off the top of my head for turnstile programs, Kansas is going with their 11th coach this year since Fry began, and Houston their 13th in that time. Even Florida is on their eighth, and two of those won national titles.
Ferentz has his ups and his downs, but he has played in bowl games in 16 of the last 18 seasons and was bowl eligible in one of the two years he missed. And despite rarely recruiting at a national level, he has a way of turning guys who far exceed their stars - especially corners and offensive linemen. Again this year, Ferentz isn't going to threaten for a national title, or even a Big Ten title barring a series of miracles. But they won't be any fun to play, and they will win solidly more than they lose. After all these years Ferentz is still Ferentz.
2018 in a Nutshell
Like too many teams in the mediocre middle of the sport, the Hawkeyes won the games they had to win but lost all the toughest games. They opened 3-0 facing the hardly grueling gauntlet of Northern Illinois, Iowa State and Northern Iowa. But then they lost at home to a Wisconsin team that was definitely vulnerable last year. They won three more against Minnesota, Indiana and Maryland - three more teams that are not at Iowa's level. But then they lost three in a row at Penn State and Purdue, and at home against Northwestern. Ferentz really needs to win at least one of those, and two would be even better. They took their frustrations out on hapless Illinois in a 63-0 massacre, then closed out with a three-point win over a Nebraska team that had gone from clueless to conquering in just a month. That earned them an Outback Bowl berth, and they beat Mississippi State to move to 3-3 under Ferentz in a bowl that has almost become a home game for the Hawkeyes given how often they are assigned to it.
Key Additions and Departures
It's not always the case that we see a tight end go in the first round of the NFL Draft. It's often not a priority position for teams that have other needs. So, when Iowa had two selected in the first 20 picks of the draft this year, we know they had something really special going on. T.J. Hockenson went eighth, and Noah Fant 20th, and both leave a massive hole at the position. The two caught 27 of the 52 touchdowns QB Nate Stanley threw over the last two seasons, and now the team has just one TE with any career receptions - and he has only three. A position of massive strength has clearly been weakened. They also lost slot receiver Nick Easley to graduation. Easley and the two tight ends combined to catch 18 of the 26 TD passes Stanley threw last year, so some new guys are definitely going to have to step up. Defensively, the team lost S Amani Hooker, the Big Ten DB of the Year, in the fourth round along with DE Anthony Nelson. That's a lot of star power to lose. But they have a proven senior QB, an offensive line anchored by two outstanding tackles, great running back depth, and probably the best rushing end in the conference, so they aren't going to fall off a cliff by any means.
The recruiting class ranked 41st nationally, which is right in the range that Ferentz always seems to settle. The class included three four-stars, but two are offensive tackles who will almost certainly redshirt.
Biggest Area of Concern
It has to be the pass catchers. Stanley can throw, but who will he throw to? The two likely starters at receiver had five TDs between them last year, and neither was exactly electric. They are basically starting from scratch at tight end, and Stanley has used that position as a massive safety valve the last couple of years. Stanley is a senior, so you want to maximize his impact while you have him. But guys will really have to step up and help him out if he wants to come close to matching his numbers from last year.
Iowa Hawkeyes Schedule Analysis
It's like they have two entirely different seasons this year. At home things should be very smooth. Miami of Ohio, Rutgers, Middle Tennessee and Illinois are all but certain wins, and the Hawkeyes will have a solid edge against Purdue and Minnesota, too. Only Penn State is an intimidating home contest, and even that isn't as tough as it has been recently. A record of 6-1 at home isn't an entirely unrealistic goal. But the road slate of five games is absolutely brutal. At Northwestern is the easiest game, and the Wildcats won eight conference games last year. They also play at Wisconsin, Iowa State, Michigan and Nebraska. All five of those teams could be ranked when Iowa visits them, and Michigan is a national title contender. Ouch. They could go 6-1 at home and only wind up with seven wins and it wouldn't be hugely shocking.
2019-20 Iowa Hawkeyes Betting Odds and Trends
BetOnline has Iowa at +15000 to win the national title, which places them behind 22 other teams and makes their potential return almost 67 times higher than favored Alabama and Clemson. Needless to say, they are not seen as a title threat. Bovada doesn't see them as a threat in the Big Ten, either. They are at +2800 to win the conference, which is twice the return of the two closest teams to them - Wisconsin and Michigan State.
2019-20 Iowa Hawkeyes Predictions and College Football Picks
The loss of talent is going to force the offense to take a step back. And that road schedule would crush a better team than this one. I have respect for this program, and they will pull off a surprise somewhere as they usually do, but it's going to be a tough year. Matching last year's total of nine wins including the bowl game would have to be seen as a victory.
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