Each week during the season the Hawkeye Headquarters staff will predict the outcome of the Iowa football game.
Blake Hornstein (0-0): As much as I’ve missed writing weekly prognostications, it simply won’t be the same this year. Because for the first time since 2017, a prediction from Steve Batterson will not be featured in our column. Life naturally goes onward — but I wanted to use this piece to share some brief memories of Steve.
I only knew him for roughly 10 months. What I learned quickly is that he was the hardest worker I ever met. For those of you that don’t know — my job is 95% Hawkeyes coverage, and often times I found myself gasping for air in the midst of the sports calendar marathon.
Steve did my job AND covered high school sports full-time — another hellacious, unrelenting beast. Not to mention he covered local colleges year-round and minor league baseball teams full-speed during the summer. They called him a “machine” for a reason.
Most of my interactions with Steve came in the press room of Carver-Hawkeye Arena. He was the only person that ever beat me to availabilities. I always asked him if he had a day off in near sight, and most of the time his response was a smile, a laugh and a no.
Seeing Steve always got me through some difficult times on the beat my first year. He was a consummate professional, a kind person — and an inspiration. This job is work. It’s fun, but it’s work. I’ll miss Steve and our interactions, and I’ll certainly miss seeing him at every Hawkeye press conference this season with his perfect hairline, sharp mustache, and as always — a notepad in hand.
The Aggies once produced the quarterback that overtook my beloved Aaron Rodgers. Two years later, they were ranked one spot behind the Hawkeyes, 24th overall in the AP poll. However, they had one the countries worst offenses and defenses in a sub-.500 2022 finish.
Cade McNamara, questionable or not, is going to have a running game behind him, two elite tight ends to throw to and one of the best defenses the sport has to offer.
Rid your mind of the ugly SDSU game last year — this is a slam dunk. Iowa’s 23.5 point favorites? Hammer it.
Prediction: Iowa 31, Utah State 7
Ryan Jaster (0-0): Welcome to optimism season. It ends Saturday. What a pessimistic thing to say, right? But everyone puts the blinders on until a game. Then it’s time to nitpick. How can you love 6-4 as an Iowa fan, but can’t be happy with a 7-3 opener that includes two safeties and a field goal? (Two safeties!)
But this year’s different. Cade McNamara is here to give the offense a jolt. Deacon Hill’s got his back. So does Erick All. Luke Lachey. Two Kalebs: Johnson and Brown. Plus a legend before a single snap: Hayden Large. I’m penciling him in for the first touchdown of the year.
And that’s just the offense. You already know that the defense is always in next-man-up mode.
Don’t believe the hype? Understandable. But the truth is, Kirk Ferentz won’t snooze and miss the moment this season. He excels when put in this position.
Sure, I usually let a PS2 make the game predictions for me (see below), but when I go all in on a season like this, my record is pretty good: The Chicago Cubs in 2016.
No matter what the injury report says, the power of belief will carry the Hawkeyes to Indy and maybe even beyond, just like it took the Cubs to a World Series title in 2016. I mean, come on, a division title is a much safer prognostication than breaking a century-long championship drought.
We’ll document the journey all season on Hawkeye Headquarters – the highs, the lows, the wins, the points per game. After all, Iowa is tracking the last two, too. In this analytic era, remember to enjoy the ride. Keep that optimism up as long as you can.
Take the Totally Irrelevant Prediction, for example. This computer model uses the players returning from one of the best Hawkeyes teams of all-time to deduce who will win games in 2023. Random. Dispassionate. Fair.
If you’re new to this, it’s a simulation run on NCAA Football 2004. “Why?” you ask. “Why not?” I answer. It’s been done that way since 2015 and that regular season ended up undefeated (for both me and the team), so they let me keep doing it. The TIP tends to pick Iowa wins, but not always. And along the way, 24-3 was etched in brick and 64-0 went from improbable to possible. Doubt the method at your own risk.
The TIP knows, and this week, the TIP has the Hawkeyes winning 27-7. The defense dominated – aside from one second-quarter drive – and the offense was much better with three touchdowns, yet still stalled for four field goal attempts, missing two. But it helps set the tone when your opponent starts with a punt from the 3, the Hawkeyes’ first drive starts at the 26 and your running back gets half of that on the first play of the year. Even with “designated performance objectives” looming large, Iowa builds a lead and hits cruise control for the win. The Hawkologist’s prognosis is a 1 on the 6-point pain index.
Never a doubt. Keep that same energy all year, okay? Big Ten West champions.
Here’s a look at what others from near and far expect, starting with the weather from Local 4’s Tyler Ryan:
David Eickholt: Iowa 38, Utah State 7. Cade McNamara gets the start. Kaleb Johnson goes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Iowa’s line of scrimmage dominates and has their confidence high heading into Ames next week.
Dennis Dodd: Iowa
Tom Fornelli: Iowa
Chip Patterson: Iowa
Barrett Sallee: Iowa
Shehan Jeyarajah: Iowa
David Cobb: Iowa
Jerry Palm: Iowa
Bill Connelly: Iowa 37, Utah State 4
Steven Lassan: Iowa
Joe Vitale: Iowa
Luke Easterling: Iowa