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With the 2022 football season still a touch over three months away, a lot can change and likely will, but with spring ball wrapping up and heading into summer camp, there is a bit more clarity than we had even two months ago. 247Sports looked at the best and worst-case scenarios for every team in the Big Ten after the conclusion of spring festivities.
The Iowa Hawkeyes are the only team in the conference to have a win-loss discrepancy equaling a five-game swing. Most of the other teams had swings in their scenarios that often equaled only two or three games flipping. One would think that the Hawkeyes’ stability under Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz would put them in the group of smallest discrepancy, but it appears to be otherwise.
Brad Crawford of 247Sports does see a way that the Hawkeyes make a repeat appearance in the Big Ten championship game as the West Division’s representative.
Drawing both the reigning Big Ten champions in Michigan and perennial playoff contender Ohio State does add another layer of difficulty that the Hawkeyes have to handle this fall. Aside from that, Iowa should be favored in most games with its two big games in the West again coming against Wisconsin and Minnesota. Wisconsin and Iowa have alternated wins the last two years, while Iowa has had Minnesota’s number recently and won the past seven.
Best-case scenario: 10-2, 7-2; If Iowa’s only losses come against Michigan and Ohio State, that should be enough for a return trip to the Big Ten Championship Game for Kirk Ferentz and company. That would mean head to head wins (and potential tiebreakers) over Wisconsin and Minnesota, the other two programs we consider to be the ones fighting for space at the top of the division. – Crawford, 247Sports.
Crawford also sees a universe where Iowa has their worst year since 2012. If it plays out that way, it would represent just the Hawkeyes’ fourth losing season since 2000.
Worst-case scenario: 5-7; 3-6; This season’s schedule isn’t as favorable as most years for the Hawkeyes. They’ll play Michigan and Ohio State and won’t be the betting favorite in either of those matchups. Should the Week 2 rivalry tilt against Iowa State go south, getting to bowl eligibility could be touch and go the rest of the way. – Crawford, 247Sports.
Ferentz has led the Hawkeyes to at least six wins in all but three years of his tenure, even the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Crawford pegs Iowa State as a potential early season stumble even though the Cyclones were unable to dethrone Iowa with a starting quarterback, running back, and tight end that all found homes in the NFL.
Should one or two of the games against Minnesota or Wisconsin go sideways, it may take the Hawkeyes out of Big Ten West contention, but to miss a bowl game would have to be an event of apocalyptic proportions.
With a stout defense returning that is led by a trio of linebackers with experience, a tight end in Sam LaPorta that is only getting better, the Iowa Hawkeyes should be in a great position to do what they do best: find a way to win games no matter what it takes.
Follow Riley on Twitter: @rileydonald7
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