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Hawkeye schedule part 2

Hawk Talk
Senior Drew Ott is expected to anchor the defensive line for the Hawkeyes this season. (Photos by Terry Inteveld)

This is the second part of a two-part story about Iowa’s football schedule.
Last week I thought Iowa would be favored in four games (Illinois State, Iowa State, North Texas and Illinois).
I think Pittsburgh could be a toss-up and the Hawks will be underdogs against the Badgers, with the game at Wisconsin.
This week I’ll talk about the three home games against Maryland, Minnesota and Purdue, plus road trips to Maryland, Indiana and Nebraska.

Oct. 17
at the Northwestern

The game against the ‘Cats last season, a 48-7 Hawkeye win, might have been Iowa’s best game of the season. The Hawks jumped out to a 24-0 lead and led 38-7 at half, with Mark Weisman scoring three touchdowns.
Both Weisman and Akrum Wadley ran for over 100 yards and the Hawkeye defense held Northwestern to 75 yards passing.
The Wildcats finished 5-7 last season, but did beat Wisconsin, which won the Big Ten West, 20-14. The ‘Cats return six players on an offense that averaged 23 points per game last fall.
They have to find a new quarterback, but have running back Justin Jackson back. Jackson, the 5’11”, 185-pound sophomore, ran for 1,187 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. He had 96 yards against the Hawks, scoring Northwestern’s only touchdown.
Northwestern gave up 25.2 points last season and has eight starters returning on defense.
Iowa has won three of the last four, but the Wildcats have been in every game until last year. Look for the Hawkeyes to be favored.

Oct. 24 Bye

Oct. 31
vs. the Maryland

Another tough loss last season, when Maryland was in its first year in the Big Ten Conference. Iowa jumped out to a 14-0 lead, but trailed 38-21 with 4:58 left in the game. Jacob Hillyer caught a touchdown pass and Marshall Koehn kicked a 24-yard field goal but the Hawks came up short, 38-31.
The Terrapins were 7-6 last year with wins over Penn State (20-19) and Michigan (23-16).
Maryland has six starters back on an offense that averaged 28.5 points per game. They replace both tackles and both wide receivers.
Brandon Ross is back at running back. He rushed for 42 yards last year against the Hawks and finished the season with 419 yards and four touchdowns.
On defense, the Terrapins return only four starters. They replace all three linebackers and three defensive linemen. They gave up an average of 30.2 points last season. Junior Will Likely leads the defense as a defensive back. The 5’7” junior had six interceptions, including a 45-yard pick-six against the Hawkeyes last season.
Iowa threw 56 passes in last year’s game, the most ever under Kirk Ferentz. Jake Rudock completed 32, but the pick-six was the difference in the game.
Iowa should be favored at home and it should be a payback game.

Nov. 7
at the Indiana

The Hawks rolled over the Hoosiers last year at Kinnick Stadium, 45-29.
Iowa scored 28 points in the first quarter, highlighted by Desmond King’s pick that he returned 35 yards for a score.
Mark Weisman scored twice and Jonathan Parker took a 60-yard jet sweep to the end zone.
Tevin Coleman torched the Iowa defense for 219 yards on the ground and scored on touchdown runs of 83, 45 and 69 yards, but he has graduated– thank goodness!
Iowa controlled the game with a 22-13 advantage in first downs and 10 more minutes of ball possession than the Hoosiers.
Indiana, which went 4-8 (1-7 in the Big Ten last fall), returns six starters on offense. They averaged 25 points and 264 yards in 2014. The Hoosiers beat a pretty good Missouri team early in the season, 31-27.
Quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who was lost for the season after being injured against Iowa, is back after passing for 1,151 yards and six touchdowns, playing in only six games.
The Hoosiers return five starters on defense, but have to replace two linebackers and three defensive backs. Their defense gave up an average of 32 points and 251 yards passing.
The Hawks have won five of the last six against the Hoosiers.
Look for Iowa to be favored.

Nov. 14
vs. the Minnesota

Another tragic loss to the Gophers last season– the Hawks turned the ball over three times and Minnesota rolled to a 51-14 win.
Iowa scored first, on a Mark Weisman 1-yard run, but the Gophers scored 35 straight points and led 35-7 at half. Minnesota had 23 first downs, Iowa had 13. They had 291 yards rushing, Iowa 84.
Quarterback Mitch Leidner was 10-13 for 138 yards and four touchdown passes.
The Gophers, 8-5 (5-3 in the Big Ten), have seven back on offense, including Leidner. They scored 28 points per game and averaged 216 yards on the ground.
On defense, Minnesota gave up 24 points per game. They have eight back on defense, including all four in the secondary.
Iowa had a two-game winning streak against Minnesota before last year’s game. The Hawks have won three straight at home against the Gophers.
It’s the second night game of the year for Iowa, the Kinnick crowd should be jacked and the game might be a tossup.
They are actually talking about having an Iowa wrestling meet at Kinnick during the day.
Let’s hope the Kinnick magic comes through... twice!

Nov. 14 vs. Purdue Boilermakers

Last year, the Hawks rolled over the Boilermakers, 24-10, despite being down 10-0 early in the second quarter.
Mark Weisman scored twice and the defense held Purdue to 156 total yards.
C.J. Beathard started, threw a pick-six for Purdue’s first score, but came back and went 17-37 for 245 yards and a touchdown pass to Kevonte Martin Manley.
The Boilermakers were 3-9 (1-7 in the Big Ten) and return eight on an offense that averaged 23.8 points.
Quarterback Austin Appleby is back after starting 10 games last season.
The Boilermakers’ defense returns seven that gave up 31.7 points per game in 2014.
Look for Iowa to be favored, the Hawkeyes have won four of the last five.

Nov. 27
at the Nebraska

Last season, I thought Iowa State (20-17) was the toughest loss for the Hawks, followed by Nebraska (37-34 OT) and either Minnesota (51-14) or Tennessee (45-28) in the bowl game.
My gosh, Iowa led the Huskers, 24-7, in the third quarter after Drew Ott, a Nebraska native, blocked a punt and scored from 13 yards out. Iowa’s punting team gave up two big returns in the second half, one going 80 yards for a score.
The Hawks had 24 first downs, to the Huskers’ 13, and Iowa had the ball for 37:44 minutes, Nebraska 22:16.
Nebraska, 9-4 (5-3 in the Big Ten) has a new coach, Mike Riley. He has seven starters back on offense. The Cornhuskers have to replace three offensive linemen on an offense that averaged 37.8 points per game.
On defense, the Huskers have six returning starters, including three defensive lineman.
Nebraska gave up 26.4 points last year with 205 yards passing.
Mike Riley could be a little drop-off from Bo Pelini. Pelini was very intense and liked to yell, a lot.
Nebraska should be favored at home, but I hope the Hawks will get another payback win.
Iowa needs to get at least four wins in their last six games. They will likely be underdogs against Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nebraska but I think they can beat at least one of those three.
Hopefully, they won’t stumble against Iowa State, Purdue or Indiana.
Will 8-4 be enough to call off the dogs?
Next week I’ll look at the Hawkeye offense.
Will Iowa be able to fill in the graduation losses at tackle on both sides of the ball?
Can C.J. lead the team to another bowl game and will the linebackers improve?