The 6-1 18th ranked Hawkeyes have fans and journalists alike thinking of different numbers: 2002? 2009? 2015?

Now I could take plenty of space here to say why and why not each comparison is valid. Others have and will. And that’s fine.

But I’ll address it simply: They’re the 2018 Hawkeyes. With seven games down and at least six to go. (Bowl-eligible, baby.) It appears to be a special season, but that glow will be put to the test in a big way in Happy Valley against No. 17 Penn State.

It’s like saying the 2004 Cubs were among the best ever even though that last week made them miss the playoffs. Or the Atlanta Falcons put on the most dominant performance against the Patriots in a Super Bowl since the 1985 Bears — until that last quarter. Or that LeBron James’ six NBA Finals losses is somehow greater than Michael Jordan’s six wins with MVP honors in every one…

Or that the Hawkeyes’ game against Penn State last year with those late Akrum Wadley touchdowns was one of the greatest wins of all-time… oh… yeah. Too soon?

So I’m gonna let them finish… before I find their place in all of this Hawkeye history.

And let’s be honest, the only numbers I truly care about in this column are the scores the experts predict each week.

Let’s get to it.

Celebrity prediction
The Hawkeyes’ all-time leader in receptions returns for a second season of picks.
Kevonte Martin-Manley: Iowa 17, Penn State 10

Featured predictions
Steve Batterson: Penn State 27, Iowa 24
Kirk Ferentz can’t wait to send Trace McSorley a graduation card. The Penn State senior QB has collected 625 yards of offense against Iowa the past two years and will team with freshman running back Miles Sanders in giving the Nittany Lions a slight edge at home. A couple of kickers from Iowa high schools along Interstate 35 – Iowa’s Miguel Recinos of Mason City and Penn State freshman Jake Pinegar from Ankeny Centennial – may have a say in the outcome of this game on what is expected to be a soggy Saturday at Beaver Stadium. Pinegar is 6-of-7 on field goal tries inside 40 yards.

Hawkeye Headquarters
Adam Rossow: Iowa 23, Penn State 20 (OT)
Dan Vasko: Iowa 27, Penn State 24

National predictions

Bill Connelly: Penn State 28, Iowa 23

Athlon Sports
Steven Lassan: Penn State
Mitch Light: Penn State
Mark Ross: Penn State

Bleacher Report
David Kenyon: Iowa 27, Penn State 20

CBS Sports
Dennis Dodd: Penn State
Jerry Palm: Iowa
Tom Fornelli: Penn State
Chip Patterson: Iowa
Barton Simmons: Penn State
Barrett Sallee: Penn State
Ben Kercheval: Iowa

The Athletic
Stewart Mandel: Penn State 27, Iowa 21
Bruce Feldman: Iowa 27, Penn State 21

Associated Press
Ralph D. Russo: Penn State 24, Iowa 23

Sports Illustrated
Andy Staples: Iowa
Ross Dellenger: Penn State
Joan Niesen: Penn State
Laken Litman: Penn State
Eric Single: Penn State
Molly Geary: Iowa
Scooby Axson: Penn State
Max Meyer: Penn State

Andrea Adelson: Penn State 24, Iowa 17    
Joel Anderson: Penn State 34, Iowa 20    
Edward Aschoff: Iowa 23, Penn State 21    
Kyle Bonagura: Penn State 31, Iowa 24    
Heather Dinich: Penn State 28, Iowa 21    
David M. Hale: Penn State 24, Iowa 17    
Sam Khan Jr.: Iowa 28, Penn State 27    
Chris Low: Penn State 30, Iowa 21    
Ivan Maisel: Penn State 17, Iowa 16    
Ryan McGee: Iowa 28, Penn State 27    
Dan Murphy: Iowa 35, Penn State 31    
Adam Rittenberg: Iowa 28, Penn State 24    
Alex Scarborough: Penn State 35, Iowa 27    
Mark Schlabach: Iowa 23, Penn State 20    
Mitch Sherman: Iowa 20, Penn State 17    
Jake Trotter: Penn State 20, Iowa 14    
Tom VanHaaren: Iowa 24, Penn State 17

Hawkeye State predictions
The Athletic

Scott Dochterman: Iowa 27, Penn State 20

The Gazette
Marc Morehouse: Iowa 23, Penn State 20

Hawk Central
Chad Leistikow: Iowa 30, Penn State 17

Go Iowa Awesome
Mark Hasty: Iowa 24, Penn State 20

All Hawkeyes
Pat Harty: Iowa 31, Penn State 23

Black Heart Gold Pants
Max Brekke: Iowa 24, Penn State 21
Hello Jerry: Iowa 24, Penn State 17
Matt Cabel: Penn State 27, Iowa 24​​​
BoilerHawk: Iowa 21, Penn State 20
Benjamin Ross: Iowa 31, Penn State 20
Doug Saye: Iowa 27, Penn State 20
JPinIC: Penn State 27, Iowa 24
Matt Reisener: Iowa 24, Penn State 21

#IowaSim18 simulation
Cody Hills: Iowa 21, Penn State 20

Irrelevant prediction
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 9, Penn State 0. This game came out before the season of 6-4, but somehow it knew what was coming. The 2016 simulation of this game predicted 14-5 Iowa. Then again, it picked Iowa 55-46 last year and it wasn’t quite that wild. If it’s in the game, it’s in the game? If that’s the case, this year it’s field goals and fumbles. And a second shutout in a row? Improbable. Of course, the two games referenced above end up as Penn State wins. Hence, “irrelevant.” The whole summary pretty much fit in the tweet this time:

Prognosis: After a surprising number of weeks so far this year with no detractors, the Hawkeyes have lost some of the national writers for this road trip. And a few locals. Understandable. Iowa hasn’t won at Penn State since 2009, but the series is fairly even in slight favor of Penn State (15-12 and on a 4-game win streak). This is another one of those games that presents an opportunity to step up in status. Wisconsin was the first this year, and the Hawks were five minutes and change away from it before an 11-point loss. Iowa needs to avoid mistakes if it wants to win this game in a hostile environment. Many of the experts don’t think they will do it, but overall the picks are split. Some pain is predicted.  

For more Hawkeye coverage, follow @AdamJRossow and @HawkeyeHQ on Twitter and Facebook — and Hawkeye Headquarters on all season. We’re the only Quad-Cities station to follow Iowa at home and on the road, so travel with us to Penn State, Purdue and Illinois to finish off the season.