Kirk Ferentz’s Iowa football team is thinking Indianapolis once again heading into this season.
Fresh off a Big Ten West Division title, Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa football program will want to assert their dominance on the gridiron once again with a return trip to Indianapolis in 2022.
Iowa is coming off a 10-win season and a top-25 finish, but back-to-back losses to end the year made everyone forget about the fact the Hawkeyes were at one point No. 2 in the nation. Ferentz may be the longest-tenured head coach in the Power Five, but we have to wonder if Kirk’s Dawgs will be ready to try to scale the mountain once again. America needs farmers, but loves … Dawgs!
Kinnick waving in at No. 31 on FanSided’s Preseason Top 50 Rankings, the Iowa Hawkeyes!
Iowa football 2021 season in review
Coming off a relatively strong 6-2 COVID season in 2020, Iowa entered last fall with a No. 18 ranking nationally. With a pair of wins over over-ranked teams in Indiana (can you believe it?) and in-state rival Iowa State, the Hawks looked to be a total wagon heading into the heart of Big Ten play. Iowa crushed Maryland on Oct. 1 and then won a thriller over No. 4 Penn State to get to 6-0.
Fate would have it, Iowa ran into some good, old-fashioned Spoilermakers. We’re talking about a terrible homecoming of sorts, as Iowa mustered just seven points vs. a high-octane Purdue offense. To make matters worse, Wisconsin jumped around and claimed the Heartland Trophy for themselves with a 27-7 win over Kirk’s Dawgs. A five-point win over Northwestern was alarming.
Heck, if Iowa had an offense that wasn’t defined by nepotism, maybe distinguished alums like our boy Carm would appreciate his alma mater’s football team a bit more? Then again, Pat Fitzgerald is that guy and have you seen what they have done to the facilities by the lake up in Evanston? After winning the Carm Bowl, Iowa would procure the sacred Floyd of Rosedale over Minnesota.
At 8-2, Iowa continued to beat Big Ten West cannon fodder like Illinois and Nebraska despite the passing game remaining forever stuck in the Middle Ages. Blessed with a 10-2 mark, Iowa would win the Big Ten West because those Golden Gophers rowed the damn boat over those stinking Badgers. To Indianapolis Kirk’s Dawgs went. It was mostly death by khakis after that for Iowa…
To make matters worse, they lost their bowl game to noted Iowa alum Mark Stoops’ Kentucky Wildcats. He may have the best job in college football, but one would think the littlest Stoops brother can bring that Youngstown blood and workman mentality on the recruiting trails once 67-year-old Ferentz hangs up the headset as one of Hayden Fry’s most distinguished disciples.
Previewing Iowa offense for 2022 season
- Returning starters (7): Spencer Petras (QB), Monte Pottebaum (FB), Keagan Johnson (WR), Nico Ragaini (WR), Sam LaPorta (TE), Mason Richman (LT), Connor Colby (RG)
- Impact player: Sam LaPorta (TE)
Iowa may return most of its starting offense, but that is not why the Hawkeyes won the Big Ten West a year ago. Iowa is gonna Iowa for as long as the Ferentzes are calling the shots. The Hawks have around seven returning starters on offense, including quarterback Spencer Petras and tight end Sam LaPorta. This unit must replace running back Tyler Goodson and center Tyler Linderbaum.
With LaPorta being the impact player at tight end, that says everything you need to know about the Iowa offense. Though Gavin Williams should be in for a big season replacing Goodson as the starting running back, Iowa is Tight End U for a reason. Look for LaPorta to be among the best pass catchers at that particular position group across the country in what will be his senior year.
Previewing Iowa defense for 2022 season
- Returning starters (9): John Waggoner (DE), Noah Shannon (DT), Logan Lee (DT), Jestin Jacobs (LB), Jack Campbell (LB), Seth Benson (LB), Jermari Harris (CB), Kaevon Merriweather (SS), Riley Moss (CB)
- Impact player: Jack Campbell (LB)
Iowa looks to be in a fantastic spot defensively, as the Hawks will have around nine returning starters on that side of the ball. Seemingly everyone is back in the trenches, with Jack Campbell and Jestin Jacobs highlighting the linebacking corps. Iowa returns three starters in the back-end of its defense with cornerback Riley Moss serving as the breakout player among that position group.
It is hard to pick between Campbell and Moss, but let’s go with the former because he is surrounded by more familiar faces up front. Iowa could have one of the best linebacking corps in the country. If the Hawkeyes are to repeat in the Big Ten West, Campbell will have to not only be an all-conference performer but emerge as one of the best defensive players in all of football.
Iowa football players awards watch for 2022 season
A handful of Iowa football players have appeared on awards watch lists, including these four guys.
Sam LaPorta, Mackey
It is no surprise that LaPorta finds himself on the Mackey Award watch list for the best tight end in the country. Though he may not be the favorite, he does play the right position at the right school.
Jack Campbell, Bednarik, Butkus, Nagurski
Should all go according to plan, Campbell could be in position to potentially clean up during awards season. He is on the preseason watch lists for the Bednarik, the Butkus and the Nagurski this year.
Riley Moss, Bednarik, Nagurski, Thorpe
Moss too finds himself on three awards watch lists this preseason. He is up for the Bednarik and the Nagurski like Campbell is, but his third would be the Thorpe, an honor he has a real shot at.
Tory Taylor, Ray Guy
And because Iowa’s offense will lag behind its defense, the Hawks are going to punt a ton with Petras running Brian Ferentz’s nepotism offense. That is why Tory Taylor is up for the Ray Guy.
Iowa football biggest game on 2022 schedule
Looking at Iowa’s 2022 regular-season schedule, the Hawkeyes don’t get a lot of easy breaks out of the Big Ten East rotation. While they should be able to win at Rutgers, hosting Michigan is not easy and a loss feels certain at Ohio State in the Horseshoe. Iowa is fortunate to finish the regular season with five-straight Big Ten West games, none probably more important than at Purdue.
Assuming Iowa wins CyHawk over the Clones at Kinnick, the Hawks could be 6-2 heading into November, possibly 7-1 if they split with Michigan and Ohio State. Having the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Boilermakers could be huge in Iowa’s chances of repeating in the West. They may host Wisconsin and Nebraska at Kinnick, but at Minnesota is not a walk in the park at all.
Simply put, for Iowa to be in the mix to win the Big Ten West again, it has to get wins over the bottom dwellers (Illinois, Northwestern) and mid-tier teams on the come-up (Nebraska, Purdue). If Iowa can enter the latter part of November in the top three of the divisional race with Minnesota and Wisconsin, luck could be in their favor once again and help get the Hawks back to Indianapolis.
However, a road loss to Purdue may indicate that this year’s Iowa team is only middle of the pack.
Iowa football best-case scenario
With a strong defense and well-formed identity offensively, Iowa could definitely repeat as Big Ten West champs. In an absolute best-case scenario, Kirk’s Dawgs shred Jim Harbaugh’s khakis more viciously than a concert goer in a Slipknot mosh pit. Coupled with another win in CyHawk and Iowa could be a perfect 6-0 heading into the bye before the Ohio State game, which they will not win…
At 6-1 with a scarlet bloody lip and a gray shiner, Iowa obliterates Northwestern in Carmageddon, using all of that newfound confidence to steal one from the Spoilermakers in West Lafayette. At 8-1, the Hawks jump around on Graham Mertz’s overrated arm to send Paul Chryst back to Madison with a very pleasant Kinnick Wave. Assuming P.J. Fleck’s cliche boat sinks, let’s get to Black Friday!
In a game where Iowa can win the Big Ten West going away, the distinct possibility of ending the Scott Frost tenure in Lincoln without the Huskers going to a bowl is tastier than sweet corn. While Iowa is sitting at 11-1 and heading to Indy, Frost is getting tarmac-ed in Des Moines, but hey, at least he has his Cinnabon. Somehow, someway, Kirk’s Dawgs are still alive to make the playoff.
Unfortunately, an 11-1 (8-1) season is going to be rendered useless against Ohio State in Indy.
Iowa football worst-case scenario
What happens if Kirk’s Dawgs have no bite? It’ll be worse than finding out that John Wayne Gacy invented the Double Down at a Waterloo KFC back in the day. Ty Schmit was pissed then, but it could be worse than watching him melt down during The Pat McAfee Show‘s NFL Draft Spectacular over bad Green Bay Packers picks while simultaneously impersonating Mel Kiper Jr.
This year’s harvest could be bad. There is no corn, there is no hope and there is no never-ending supply of Marylander pumpkin pie. Iowa may not be a national embarrassment like it was during the Chris Doyle fiasco, but what does it smell like if it hits the fan in Iowa City in 2022? It smells like burning corn, as the Field of Dreams has caught on fire as tribute to the late, great Ray Liotta.
“If you burn it, they will cry.”
After the fighting Adam Vinateris make it too close to comfort on Labor Day Weekend, Iowa takes its three-point victory over the Jackrabbits into CyHawk to face a fully-bronzed Matt Campbell and the boys. For all the corn, Campbell plows his grim reaper to win his first CyHawk. Before he forgets, Campbell makes sure to look Ferentz in the eye before maybe their final handshake…
With too much pride to lose to Ken Wilson’s Wolf Pack in his first year on the job, Iowa nearly blows it in Rutgers’ SHI Stadium to Greg Schiano and New Jersey’s finest. As Jim Harbaugh continues to power through the awkwardness, he takes his baseball glove and a quart of milk to his nearest steakhouse and cuts through Iowa at Kinnick like a John Deere going another round.
Even if they fall to Michigan, Iowa is not losing to former Hawkeye Bret Bielema just yet, even if he has a Believe Achieve Iowa Tigercat tat. At 4-2 entering their bye, Iowa has no chance to beat Ohio State in Columbus, so that’s quickly 4-3. To Carm’s liking, Northwestern beats his alma mater in what comes as quite the shock. 4-4 becomes 4-5 after being Spoilermaker-ed in West Lafayette.
Wisconsin may be too much in the trenches for Iowa, so that’s four losses in a row. For the time being, cliches still work in the Twin Cities, as Fleck flexes his Big Ten West energy over a reeling Hawkeyes team that does not achieve bowl eligibility. Ferentz will assess the damage and say he will be retiring after one final game on Black Friday, with a chance to end Frost’s Nebraska tenure.
As you wake up from your tryptophan-induced coma, Iowa beats Nebraska to finish 5-7 (3-6). After one long-drawn-out press conference, athletic director Gary Barta will get on the phone with Stoops’ agent to ask how much is it gonna take to pry him out of UK. With a potential three-team bidding war between Iowa, Kentucky and Florida State, Stoops’ bank account is the big winner.
Iowa football 2022 season prediction
Needless to say, Iowa offers a ton of variance this year. From as good as it gets to rock bottom, we’ve got a six-win range here, alright. The good news is we can split that right down the middle and accurately project the 2022 Hawkeyes to be something around an 8-4 team. South Dakota State, Nevada, Rutgers, Illinois and Northwestern are all very winnable contests for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa is not beating Ohio State and probably not proving victorious over Michigan, so that’s two defeats there on the season. From there, how many games can Iowa realistically win when it comes to Iowa State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nebraska? Anything 1-4 or worse among those five spells disaster. Anything better than 3-2 of those five means Iowa could win its division.
Since Campbell remains clueless in CyHawk, let’s give Iowa a victory there. With Wisconsin being the least likely of their final four games to win and Nebraska being the most likely, let’s say that is how those two go. Simply put, Iowa is too well-coached to lose both road games at Purdue and at Minnesota. Thus, they will split that pair to go 8-4 (5-4) on the season to finish outside the top 25.
The four losses are vs. Michigan, at Ohio State, vs. Wisconsin and at either Purdue or Minnesota.
Iowa football 2022 bowl game prediction
Picture this. On the second to last day of the year, Kirk’s Dawgs will take on Dave Doeren and his Wolfpack in the Queen City for all the mayonnaise. Shane Beamer set the bar impossibly high with the greatest bath since Flea and the nihilists threw a marmot into The Dude’s tub, man. NC State may be the better team, but it will be one last shining mayo moment for Ferentz in Charlotte.
Coming tomorrow: No. 30 Air Force Falcons
Other articles in this series:
- No. 50: Nebraska Cornhuskers
- No. 49: Iowa State Cyclones
- No. 48: Maryland Terrapins
- No. 47: UCF Knights
- No. 46: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
- No. 45: Appalachian State Mountaineers
- No. 44: Auburn Tigers
- No. 43: Louisville Cardinals
- No. 42: Boston College Eagles
- No. 41: South Carolina Gamecocks
- No. 40: Kansas State Wildcats
- No. 39: Fresno State Bulldogs
- No. 38: Minnesota Golden Gophers
- No. 37: UCLA Bruins
- No. 36: Florida State Seminoles
- No. 35: Boise State Broncos
- No. 34: Florida Gators
- No. 33: Mississippi State Bulldogs
- No. 32: Purdue Boilermakers