Miller: Predicting Iowa’s Record

July 18, 2019

Written by Jon Miller

Through the years, I have changed the way I have undertaken this exercise, predicting Iowa’s record in football.

For a time, I would go game by game, make up some pretend score of a game to be played months in advance and assign a winner and loser to each contest. That process began to feel a bit too tedious to me, so I have changed it up.

Now, I apply a percentage on each game, a win percentage that I see, relative to what I think Iowa’s chances are at victory. From there, I arrive at a win total, based more on percentages than adding up wins…and just because I may favor Iowa in a certain number of games does not mean that my final record prediction will add up to that.

So here goes with this year’s self-serving rundown…

MIAMI: 90%

RUTGERS: 75%

@Iowa State: 45%

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE: 85%

@Michigan: 35%

PENN STATE: 65%

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PURDUE: 55%

@Northwestern: 45%

@Wisconsin: 40%

MINNESOTA: 60%

ILLINOIS: 70%

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@Nebraska: 45%

So if we added up wins and losses based on being north or south of the 50% line, that would be a record of 7-5. Right now, I think Iowa would be an underdog in most of their road games. Maybe not the Northwestern game, right now, but most of them. Vegas may have other motives in some of these games, but this is how I see it.

In the end, this is one of Iowa’s most challenging road schedules that I can recall. I have seen every one of Iowa’s road foes ranked in some type of preseason poll…not every one of those teams has been ranked in every poll, rather, every one has been ranked at least somewhere. Here is an early consensus poll of some of the major magazines:

from www.stassen.com

You’ll see four of Iowa’s five road foes listed there, sans Northwestern. You’ll also see Penn State there.

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This is not an easy schedule.

I think Iowa is the most balanced team, from a talent perspective relative to the starting 22 in the Big Ten West. However, Iowa tends to play a brand of offense that keeps games closer…relying on its defense to win the day. That leads to a fumble or interception here or there that might allow a less talented team to win the day…hence, my viewing this exercise from a more statistical, percentage-based point of view.

In the end, I see Iowa finishing 8-4. If the offense attacks more this year, and if they employ more gap-style blocking along the offensive line and less a reliance on outside zone, I could squint and see 10-2. If they continue to employ much of the same offensive approach we have seen over the past two decades, I am less optimistic…which is what I expect when I land at 8-4.

Purdue and Nebraska are going to score points…can Iowa keep up? Can Iowa’s 4-2-5 defensive alignment hold up against Wisconsin? Iowa State may have their best defense in a half century…Michigan’s offensive changes may also put a lot of pressure on the scoreboard…will Penn State’s defense be enough to overcome so many questions on offense?

As far as the Big Ten West is concerned, I think two losses in league play will win the division outright and I believe three losses will give you a share of the division. Things are shaping up to see a multi-team tie for the division. I believe Iowa’s game at Nebraska to end the season will decide which Big Ten West team will go to Indianapolis, but that does not necessarily mean that the winner of that game will go to Indianapolis. Perhaps as many as six Big Ten West teams could be in the hunt for the division title as late as 11 games into the season…with maybe four in the hunt going into the season’s final game.

It should be a lot of fun watching things play out in such a balanced division.


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