Hawkeye HQ predictions and pregame: No ‘ship, but ship righted

Hawkeye Headquarters
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CHAMPAIGN, IL – NOVEMBER 19: Zach Grant #88 of the Illinois Fighting Illini cradles the ball in his legs that would eventually be called incomplete as Ben Niemann #44 of the Iowa Hawkeyes defends at Memorial Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

It was all good just three weeks ago. People were talking about the 2018 Hawkeyes like they were the second coming of the 2002, 2009 or 2015 teams.

Now fans are hearing the echoes of 2006, 2010 and 2014

From 6-1 to 6-4. Three weeks ago you’d think that was impossible. But as I warned then, don’t count your Tigerhawks before they’re hatched.

Kirk Ferentz threw two more Iowa teams in the mix: His personal favorites, 2008 and 2013.

Here are the records for all of those teams being compared to these Hawks in the past three weeks, good and meh:
2015: 12-2
2014: 7-6
2013: 8-5
2010: 8-5
2009: 11-2
2008: 9-4
2006: 6-7

But you have to go beyond the results to see how those teams really stack up:

Three weeks ago, Wisconsin was the biggest indicator of who the Hawkeyes were: Win the blowouts, but lose the close games.

And as any Iowa State fan is happy to tell you, the Hawkeyes haven’t beaten any good teams this year.

Odd flex, but okay.

Of all the teams on the disappointing side of Hawkeyes history, 2010 feels like the best fit. Mostly big wins, with losses in the closest games after a promising start. But that 2008 stat above is right there through 10 games.

Someone many think might help win tight games is tight end Noah Fant. But he’s not getting receptions… or targets… or snaps.

Two weeks ago we talked about about being Mahoungou’d last year by Purdue. It happened again in that Purdue exploited the matchups it was given… in much the way fans would like to see their preseason All-American used.

For what it’s worth, just one series I’d like to see Fant be the receiver Stanley locks in on… the entire series. There’s nothing left to lose but the Holiday Bowl.

So that’s exactly what I did in this week’s simulation. We’ll get to that… after the picks.

Celebrity prediction
The Hawkeyes’ all-time leader in receptions returns for a second season of picks.
Kevonte Martin-Manley: Iowa 33, Illinois 7

Featured predictions
Hawkmania

Steve Batterson: Iowa 42, Illinois 28
Even on what is expected to be a soggy mid-November day at Memorial Stadium, there should be more than enough holes in the Fighting Illini defense for Iowa to end its recent funk. Illinois has given up an average 532.9 yards and 38.6 points on an average and I don’t expect that to change against a slightly-above average Hawkeye team. Iowa should be able to re-establish its run game against a defense that is surrendering 247.9 yards on the ground.

Illinois’ offense has moved the ball on pretty much every opponent it has faced with the exception of Purdue. Don’t expect that to change if Reggie Corbin is healthy enough to play. Much like last year’s game at Kinnick when Iowa needed an Akrum Wadley TD late in the first half to take a 17-13 lead at the break, expect the Illini to keep it close early but expect the strength of Iowa’s defensive front to eventually turn things in the Hawkeyes’ favor in the second half.

Hawkeye Headquarters
Adam Rossow: Iowa 42, Illinois 20
Dan Vasko: Iowa 35, Illinois 17

National predictions
SBNation
Bill Connelly: Iowa 37, Illinois 21

Athlon Sports
Steven Lassan: Iowa 
Mitch Light: Iowa 
Mark Ross: Iowa 

Bleacher Report
David Kenyon: Iowa 34, Illinois 21

Hawkeye State predictions
The Athletic
Scott Dochterman: Iowa 45, Illinois 20

The Gazette
Marc Morehouse: Iowa 38, Illinois 17

Hawk Central
Chad Leistikow: Iowa 49, Illinois 35

Go Iowa Awesome
Mark Hasty: Iowa 40, Illinois 28

All Hawkeyes
Pat Harty: Iowa 38, Illinois 24

Hawkeyes Mic
Brendan Stiles: Iowa 41, Illinois 10
Tyler Tjelmeland: Iowa 35, Illinois 10
Jack Brandsgard: Iowa 38, Illinois 17
John Patchett: Iowa 41, Illinois 24

Irrelevant prediction
@Hawkologist
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: Hawkeyes 64, Illinois 0. Hawks by a million? Not quite, but about as close as you can get in this game with these settings. The CPU passes the sticks early and I air it out almost exclusively and blindly to the tight ends. Triple coverage? No problem. I’m making a point here. Sure, 4 interceptions result, but so do 8 touchdowns, including some connections on big yardage bombs: 33, 65 and 80. Meanwhile, the Illini start with fumble, fumble, missed FG and fumble on their first 4 drives. That helps. Iowa builds a 40-0 halftime lead, starting with a 10-yard fake field goal touchdown pass and punctuating it with a fumble safety. The second half is more of the same, just not as much.

Prognosis: Don’t stop believing. The experts haven’t. And I have to admit, after my suspicions from last week’s prognosis were proven right in painful fashion last week, I have to think this is the game that rights the ship, even if the ‘ship is now officially out of reach. No pain is predicted.  

For more Hawkeye coverage, follow @AdamJRossow and @HawkeyeHQ on Twitter and Facebook — and Hawkeye Headquarters on OurQuadCities.com all season. We’re the only Quad-Cities station to follow Iowa at home and on the road, so travel with us to Illinois for the final road game of the season on November 17 and join us at Kinnick Stadium on November 23 as the Hawkeyes host Nebraska.

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