Before the annual Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series game this weekend, most Iowa fans probably thought there was no way the Hawkeyes would be bowling this year.
After the win, many may still be speaking those words, but the efforts on the field are getting better with each week.
The 27-21 win over the Cyclones looked much worse than the score indicated. The Hawkeyes rushed for more than 200 yards for the third straight game and Iowa held a 27-7 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
The Hawkeyes still have issues in their secondary and continue to struggle with closing out games, but it is safe to say that the possibility of reaching a bowl game got better Saturday.
And with another opportunity for a win Saturday, the Hawkeyes could be half way their after their head-to-head battle with Western Michigan.
Western Michigan is 2-0 all-time against a Kirk Ferentz-Iowa coached team, but the Hawkeyes opened as a 19.5 point favorite at home. Western Michigan also is 0-3 on the year.
The Big Ten Conference also leads fans to believe that some teams can be had this year.
I don’t expect Iowa to win at Ohio State or at home against Michigan or Northwestern. But the other five Big Ten Conference games don’t appear to be overly challenging.
Purdue is by far the worst team in the league, Michigan State is not impressive on offense and Minnesota is in the middle of a change at quarterback. I also don’t think Wisconsin in unbeatable and the Hawkeyes usually play the Badgers pretty tough. The game at Nebraska at the end of the year does not look overly tough at this point, after UCLA scored 38 unanswered points at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Coming up with a win at Nebraska is always tough, and I am certainly not predicting that at this point. But with the news that recently came out with Bo Pelini’s “tape,” the Husker fans may be so fed up with Pelini and the program at that point, the homefield advantage may go away on its own.
Here is the remaining schedule that Iowa faces this year and the chances I give the Hawkeyes to pull off the win.
Western Michigan, 90-10
At Minnesota, 60-40
Michigan State, 55-45
At Ohio State, 20-80
At Purdue, 75-25
At Nebraska, 30-70
If Iowa wins the games it’s supposed to win, it will finish 6-6 and advance to a bowl game. A win at home against Wisconsin would push that to 7-5 and any other upset win would add more wins to the total.
Iowa should be able to run on any Big Ten Conference defense and as Jake Rudock continues to grow, I think the offense gets better by the week.
If Iowa can fix its secondary issues, the defense could be one of the best in the league.
The key the rest of the way will be the coaching staff’s ability to win close games. I thought Iowa would lose the Cy-Hawk game if the contest was close. Thankfully, that game was put away in the third quarter and held on to in the fourth frame.