Iowa Hawkeye football took a big leap last season. For the first time, an Iowa Hawkeye football team made the BCS, although this left Iowa football with higher hopes for this year. Last year’s squad came out of nowhere to tie for the Big Ten title, but the bullseye is fully on Kirk Ferentz and company now. With a top 10 preseason ranking, and even dark horse hopes for a national title, there is a lot to live up to. As such, this Iowa Hawkeyes football season could be the most successful ever for the program, or be among the most disappointing ever.
The Hawkeyes schedule starts today, in what is expected to be a warm up against Eastern Illinois. Still, seemingly easy games have tripped them up in the past, and a early struggle would make more headlines this year. Since the team is ranked ninth in the AP, and 10’th in the USA TODAY, their every move might impact the BCS picture.
Iowa Hawkeye football history isn’t usually filled with Big Ten and national title contenders, although they were No. 1 for five weeks in 1985. Their 11-2 2009 season, complete with the co-Big Ten championship and an Orange Bowl win, has given them a chance to rewrite history. Kirk Ferentz is now locked in until 2020, so the Hawkeyes have a lot of faith in him to take the next step.
The pre Big Ten schedule for Iowa Hawkeye football also includes a visit from Iowa State next weekend, a trip to Arizona on the 18’th, and a match with Ball State on the 25’th. After that, the team will get tested early in the Big Ten, as they hope to continue their recent dominance of Penn State.
That game on October 2 is the first of many big showdowns that Iowa will host. Since all of their huge conference games are in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes are considered to have an even better chance. Their biggest challengers are Penn State, Wisconsin and Ohio State, and the Hawkeyes will host them all.
The big dates on the Iowa Hawkeye football schedule have the Badgers visiting on October 23, and the Buckeyes coming by on November 20. Last year, the Buckeyes kept the Hawkeyes from winning the Big Ten in overtime, so Iowa believes they can go over the hump this time. In fact, if both teams hold serve, this matchup could have major national championship implications.
For all the hype over Iowa Hawkeye football this year, the team still has to deliver. They could have easily lost a lot of games last year, yet they had multiple comebacks during their run. If they don’t have the same magic, they could be one of 2010’s most disappointing teams.
Given last year, and given their home field advantage in this year’s schedule, this is the most highly anticipated Iowa football season in ages. The quest to live up to it has now just begun for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa- “2010-2011 Schedule”
Gazette Online- “Iowa’s longest preseason is finally over”