Iowa has been one of the most consistent teams in the power five over the past decade, securing a winning record nine of ten years including a 12-0 regular season in 2015. While the Hawkeyes haven’t been able to quite reach those heights since (Kirk Ferentz’s quad 25-14 over the past three years) a lot of teams would kill for their consistency, especially in the ultra-competitive Big Ten West. Iowa had a very quiet 9-4, top 20 in the country season last year, and with QB Nate Stanley back along with some great pass rushers, things are looking up for 2019.
Nate Stanley was solid last year, averaging over seven yards a throw and tossing 26 touchdowns to just ten interceptions. He loses two of the best tight ends in the country in 1st round draft picks TJ Hockenson and Noah Fant, along with his top receiver Nick Easley, but juniors Brandon Smith and Ihmire Smith-Marsette were both efficient in limited opportunities last year.
The run game returns practically everyone including junior leaders Mekhi Sargent and Toren Young, who combined for 14 touchdowns and nearly 1,400 yards on a 4.7 per-carry average. Four linemen are back as well, including all-conference tackle Alaric Jackson. I think this offense has a chance to improve despite two huge losses.
The Iowa defense was great last year, allowing just 4.6 yards per play, and they had some dudes, most of whom return including one of the best end duos in the country in AJ Epenesa (10.5 sacks, six TFL) and Chauncey Golston (3.5 sacks, 5.5 TFL).
Three linebackers with significant starting experience return, and while they lose a draft selection at safety, pretty much everyone is back in the secondary in a group led by Geno Stone (four INTs) and Michael Ojemudia (nine PD). The defense played so well last year that I’m not sure they’ll improve, but they’ll at the very least be great once again.
After an under the radar year in 2018, Iowa has a chance for improvement in 2019, but the schedule does feature games @ Michigan, @ Wisconsin, and @ Nebraska so the record might not show it even if they do improve.
|Date||Opponent||OPp. rank||Proj. Margin|
|14-Sep||at iowa state||31||0.3|
Average Projected Record: 7.7 wins, 4.3 losses (5.4 wins, 3.6 losses)