Raise your hand if you had Iowa 6-0 heading into this week against Purdue. Okay, all but Cody Hills’ #IowaSim19 can put your hands down.
Penn State? At Michigan? Yes, both games ended up being very winnable. But, you probably weren’t thinking they win both at the beginning of the year. Heck, many of you didn’t believe that at halftime of either of those games. Believe me, I saw the tweets.
So why are so many people mad — online and otherwise — at 4-2?
The Hawkeyes are right where they are supposed to be. Maybe not where we’d all prefer them to be. Undefeated seasons are always more fun. But if you are looking for the 2015 Hawkeyes, look north and bring a paddle.
Kirk Ferentz telling reporters after a second straight loss that Michigan and Penn State were “really good teams” left some fans… unsatisfied.
Some wondered when Iowa would be the “really good team” again. And with both losses being so close, the opportunity was there to beat two “really good teams” and be thought of as a “really good team” for at least two more weeks.
But maybe Iowa just isn’t a “really good team.”
The teams they lost two were both favored and ranked — and still are — but so still are the Hawkeyes. So at worst Iowa is a good team. Just not good enough? Where is the bar set for these Hawkeyes? They are still considered in the top 23 of both major polls.
When the Hawkeyes scratched and taloned their way to finish at No. 8 for three consecutive years — as I detailed in this space before the Michigan game — that was when they had become a top 10 team yearly, even if not in preseason polls. If the program was going to stick the landing, that was the time. But 2006 and 2007 put an end to that — and could have ended the Ferentz era in a different program. Now at best the Hawks are probably a perennial Top 25 team. Seems acceptable, just like after Lickliter a Tom Davis-like tournament appearance and second round exit is palatable in basketball. But you need the 2009s and 2015s every so often to truly make the regularly scheduled 8- and 9-win seasons go down easier.
Scott Dochterman of The Athletic wrote a wonderful analysis of Iowa fandom that includes names you know from social media. If you aren’t a subscriber, it’s well worth the introductory rate to start with this.
Is this Clemson? No, it’s Iowa. And just this one slice of a really good article (that’s about much more than results) sums up exactly what that means.
In hindsight, last year had the potential to be special. Averaging 30 points a game with two first-round NFL tight ends.
This is more of a classic Iowa team, and that might mean those same 8 or 9 wins. That might mean every game against a good team comes down to the wire and some just won’t go Iowa’s way. But more often than not, they will be right there in the fourth quarter. This week will give us an indication if the trademark “bad loss” is out there. For the past two years, Purdue has been one.
These Hawkeyes don’t have a bad loss on paper, even if it looked that way on the field.
When it comes to the Boilermakers, the rivalry that isn’t real has some very valid red flags. It’s traditionally a tough matchup, even at Kinnick.
Let’s get to the picks.
Once again, we are thrilled to have our predictions on Hawkeye Headquarters brought to you by Draft Day Sports Lounge inside Rhythm City Casino, “where you can grab a bite and make live bets!”
The Hawkeyes’ all-time leader in receptions is back for a third season of picks.
Kevonte Martin-Manley: Iowa 47, Michigan 14
Steve Batterson: Iowa 31, Purdue 21. With highly-ranked Michigan and Penn State defenses in the rearview mirror, expect the Iowa offense to regain a little of its swagger against a young Boilermakers team. Purdue has the offensive skill to test the Iowa defense, but the Hawkeyes’ ability to keep redshirt freshman quarterback Jack Plummer off schedule early in this game can make a significant difference.
Steven Lassan: Iowa
Mitch Light: Iowa
Mark Ross: Iowa
Dennis Dodd: Iowa
Jerry Palm: Iowa
Tom Fornelli: Iowa
Chip Patterson: Iowa
Barton Simmons: Iowa
Barrett Sallee: Iowa
Ben Kercheval: Iowa
David Kenyon: Iowa 27, Purdue 17
Ralph D. Russo: Iowa 24, Purdue 14
Bill Bender: Iowa 31, Purdue 17
Bill Connelly: Iowa 35, Purdue 21
Chad Leistikow: Iowa 35, Purdue 28
Go Iowa Awesome
Mark Hasty: Iowa 20, Purdue 13
Black Heart Gold Pants
JPinIC: Iowa 31, Purdue 16
Jerry Scherwin: Iowa 42, Purdue 9
Tnels20: Iowa 26, Purdue 13
Matt Cabel: Iowa 17, Purdue 10
BoilerHawk: Iowa 31, Purdue 17
Benjamin Ross: Iowa 27, Purdue 6
Doug Saye: Iowa 26, Purdue 9
Matt Reisener: Iowa 35, Purdue 13
DC: Iowa 34, Purdue 14
And finally, the totally irrelevant prediction based on playing EA Sports’ NCAA Football 2004 on a PS2, as is the tradition since 2015.
Ryan Jaster: Purdue 14, Iowa 7. A fumble on Iowa’s first play is ominous, but the Hawkeyes recover and actually run it up the gut successfully to the 30. Unfortunately, as soon as they go away from the run, Purdue gets a 69-yard pick 6 on a screen. That’s the only score until late in the half, when Purdue adds a 27-yard touchdown pass with 46 seconds left to take a 14-0 lead into the locker room. Despite being down two scores, once Iowa abandons the pass for the run in the second half, it works. Straight up the middle. But the 12-yard TD run on an 80-yard drive is too little, too late with 1:41 left. The onside kick is unsuccessful, but the Hawkeyes do get the ball back, only to have it intercepted.
Prognosis: Does Jeff Brohm have the Hawkeyes number? It sure seems like it. Two years ago the Hawkeyes were Mahoungou’d by Purdue, targeting Anthony Mahoungou six times in the first seven plays of the third quarter and ended up with five completions for 118 yards, two touchdowns, one defensive pass interference call and a score flipped from 9-7 Iowa to 21-9 Purdue within three minutes. It happened again last year as the Boilermakers exploited the matchups they were given and won by two. That time, Terry Wright had six catches for 146 yards and three touchdowns. Who will it be this year? David Bell? No pain is expected except by a video game old enough to drive, but until we see otherwise… I’m wary of the Boilermakers. That light at the end of the tunnel might be a train.
Predictions on Hawkeye Headquarters are brought to you by Draft Day Sports Lounge inside Rhythm City Casino, “where you can grab a bite and make live bets!”
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Ryan Jaster writes a weekly predictions column during football season for HawkeyeHQ.com and previously wrote and edited for CBS Sports, the Quad-City Times, ChicagoSports.com and the Chicago Tribune. You can follow his Hawkeye musings at @Hawkologist.