The 2013 Iowa squad starts things off against Northern Illinois and Jordan Lynch at Kinnick Stadium on 8/31. This isn't necessarily the best way to start the season for the Hawkeyes, who allowed an average of 162 YPG last year; the Huskies' Lynch averaged about 130 yards all on his own. Aside from the game against Northern Illinois, the toughest non-conference game on the Hawkeyes' slate is their yearly match-up against Iowa State. Iowa lost to the Cyclones 9-6 in 2012, which...well, yeah. Be prepared for the same result at ISU on 9/14. With games against Missouri State on 9/7 and Western Michigan on 9/21, the Hawkeyes actually have a pretty easy schedule heading into B1G play. However, with a new QB in either Jake Rudock or Cody Sokol, they could be 2-2 heading into B1G play. It's in the B1G where things could take a serious down-turn.
Jerry Kill and the Gophers will host the Hawkeyes at TCF Bank Stadium on 9/28. Kill has made steady improvements at every one of his stops, and with Philip Nelson showing some real talent, it looks like Floyd of Rosedale will be heading to Minneapolis (where he belongs, by the way). Nelson showed some real bright spots as a freshman being thrown to the wolves last year, so he should be able to get the ball to Derrick Engel and/or Isaac Fruechte, who are the team's best returning receivers. The person to really keep an eye on during this game (and throughout the season), though, is Ra'Shede Hageman. He's going to kill him some Hawkeyes and eat the bones.
On 10/5, the Michigan State Spartans head into Kinnick Stadium. Michigan State is Michigan State, but I can't see even the Spartans losing this one for a second year in a row; especially if the game is as close as it was last year (a 19-16 2OT "thriller"). This game starts a run for Iowa that is pretty brutal: at Ohio State, then at home against Northwestern and Wisconsin. The Buckeyes are going to be at the top of the conference again this year, and Northwestern has made some huge strides under Pat Fitzgerald and look to be a real threat in the B1G. Last year's Wildcats beat Iowa 28-17 at Ryan field, and even though this year's game is in Iowa City, Northwestern will come away with the win. The Wisconsin Badgers will be visiting Kinnick on 11/2, and I think Iowa is going to pull this one out. Yes, I think they will beat the Badgers. Bucky always seems to have some trouble with the Hawkeyes (the series record is 42-42-2), and I don't think this year will be any different. With a new head coach for the Badgers, a young QB in Joel Stave (or one who has had 100 knee surgeries in Curt Phillips), I think Iowa will trip up the Badgers. Given the rest of their schedule, it may be the only quality win for the Hawkeyes to hang their hat on. They then travel to West Lafayette on 11/9 to meet up with a Boilermakers team that could be just as bad as Illinois. With no clear-cut QB for the Boilers, this game is pretty much a pick-'em in my mind.
November 23 will be a very bad day for the Hawkeyes when Michigan continues what they started with last year's 42-17 drubbing. Devin Gardner's first full year as the starting QB will open a can on the Hawks, and it would be no surprise if 2013's final score is similar to last year's. Let's just say that blood will be shed, and there will be dead Hawks strewn about the field. Finally, Iowa finishes against Nebraska at Memorial Stadium. I'm not sure how this game is going to turn out, but I think it's going to be something that the Hawkeye fans are going to relish...win or lose. They'll just be happy that the season is done.
All in all, I see Iowa finishing 4-8 overall and 2-6 in the B1G for the second year in a row. Although people probably believe that the Ferentz era has stayed past its welcome, is this the year that something is actually done about it? Iowa has had only two 10+ wins since 2004, and has had five 6-win or 7-win seasons. For all other Iowa-related stories, check out the work over at Black Heart Gold Pants.