Football

Speed Option: Iowa Hawkeyes

The Buckeyes have had a to wait a long time to face Iowa for the first time since the shocker in Iowa City (Iowa). There is no reason to really relive what happened last time around, there are few people on either roster that were part of the teams that took part in that game, coaches included (at least on the Ohio State side of things).

Last season the Hawkeyes were able to win the Big Ten West with only a pair of losses along the way in the Big Ten regular season. The biggest thing that cost Iowa during their pair of regular season losses was the lack of offense, a problem that arose during the Big Ten Championship Game as well when Michigan was able to hang 42 points while only giving up three. Iowa would go on and lose a close bowl game to Kentucky to end the year 10-4.

Looking ahead to 2022, it is going to come down to much of the same, how will the Hawkeyes put points on the board? Will they be able to hold teams to fewer than 20 points on the year and more importantly, win the big games? Last season the Hawkeyes were 3-2 against top-25 teams, this year could have four or more ranked teams.

Let’s run the speed option and talk Hawkeyes.

Iowa

All-time Series Record: Ohio State leads 47-15-3

Last Meeting: 2017 – Iowa Def. Ohio State 55-24

2021 Record: 10-4, 7-2 Big Ten Conference

Returning Starters: 14 (7 Off., 7 Def.)

Head Coach: Kirk Ferentz

Offense

Total Offense: 303.7 YPG (121st)

Rushing Offense: 123.6 YPG (101st)

Passing Offense: 180.1 YPG (109th)

Scoring Offense: 23.4 PPG (99th)

Well, Iowa couldn’t really run the ball or throw the ball or even get great line play but still won 10 games, somehow and some way. It is hard to believe that Iowa scored 23-plus points per game when you see that in its four losses It scored a combined 34 points, or just a little more than eight points per game.

Spencer Petras each year comes into the season with the promise of “this is the year” and then quickly that dissipates, and the question is “how long is his leash?” Does Kirk Ferentz make a move this season to Alex Padilla? Ferentz has been loyal to players and coaches to a fault over the course of his career, it is hard to imagine he would make a move off of a quarterback that piloted his team to a share of the Big Ten title, but how much pressure is there in Iowa City this year to get things right?

Tyler Goodson may have rushed for more than 1,100 yards last year but it was a silent 1,100-yard season. And he is now off to the NFL. Nobody on the team had much more than 300 yards rushing outside of Goodson, so it is going to be a need for someone to step up in a big way. Petras can run the ball but the Hawkeyes are going to need more from the running back position than just the Q-run.

Defense

Total Defense: 328.9 YPG (17th)

Rushing Defense: 114.4 YPG (13th)

Passing Defense: 214.5 YPG (42nd)

Scoring Defense: 19.2 PPG (13th)

The Hawkeyes were top-20 in several of the major categories last year on the defensive side of the ball and one thing that was not listed is turnover margin. The Hawkeyes have to force those sudden changes and get shorter fields as long as the offense is suspect.

Corner Riley Moss is a major impact player for the Hawkeyes and while he did miss some time last season, that may have illustrated just how important he is to the defensive efforts.

Pound-for-pound, Iowa linebackers are going to be some of the top defensive players in the conference this upcoming season, starting with Jack Campbell. There are not a lot of names on this Iowa team that casual Big Ten fans will recognize out of a group, but name recognition doesn’t mean everything as the Hawkeyes continue to develop players among the best of them, at least on the defensive side of the ball.

Random Musings

For all of the success and Big Ten coach of the year awards for Kirk Ferentz, the Hawkeyes have only won a divisional title twice in the history of Big Ten divisions. The Hawkeyes did not follow up their 2015 Big Ten West title up well with an Outback Bowl loss the following season.

Speaking of Kirk Ferentz, does anyone remember when he started coaching in the Big Ten? You have to go back to 1999 for his first season as head coach for the Hawkeyes after taking over for Hayden Fry.

The Hawkeyes have a manageable non-conference schedule outside of the annual Cy-Hawk game. South Dakota State (FCS) and Nevada round out the non-conference schedule and Iowa will open the Big Ten season at Rutgers before the first difficult league game against Michigan to start off October. The schedule maker likes Iowa, giving the Hawkeyes an open week before the game against Ohio State.