I’ve delayed this long enough. Time to dive in and see what the cracked crystal ball says for this year.

Before we do that, here is an accountability exercise; how have I done in other years attempting to predict Iowa’s season record?

I’ve compiled all of my Iowa football preseason predictions dating back to the 2001 Iowa football season. I launched HawkeyeNation.com on April 12th of 2001, so I figured that would be a good place to start and while I am sure I made a prediction in 2000, as I was writing for SuperHawkeye.com at the time, I cannot locate it and that first version of Rivals.com went down in a blaze of glory. Here are my annual preseason picks, with the final regular season record and how close I came to hitting the mark.

2012 Game by Game Prediction: 8-4 (off by four, 4-8)
2011 Game by Game Prediction: 8-4 (off by one, 7-5)
2010 Game by Game Prediction: 12-0 (off by five, 7-5)
2009 Game by Game Prediction: 10-2 (direct hit)

Yeah, I remember the 2010 prediction..the year most everyone I know picked Iowa to finish no worse than 10-2, with several 11-1 predictions. The year that several publications ranked them inside the Top 10. The year they were favored in every game (in preseason lines). It was a big miss.

Here are my predictions for earlier seasons, links not included as they are to premium articles I wrote for Scout.com or Rivals.com, or as published in Hawkeye Nation Magazine:

2008: 8-4 (direct hit)
2007: 9-3 (off by three, 6-6)
2006: 11-1 (off by five, 6-6)
2005: 9-2 (off by two, 7-4)
2004: 8-3 (off by one, 9-2)
2003: 8-4 (off by one, 9-3)
2002: 8-4 (off by three, 11-1)
2001: 7-4 (off by one, 6-5)

In my opinion, getting to within one win of the actual final total is something I am going to count as successful prediction.  Anything outside of that, in just an 11 or 12 game regular season, is not something I am going to tell my kids about one day. Also, the 2006 prediction was pretty rough and that remains the team where Kirk Ferentz believes the low point of his era was hit.

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12 seasons:  6 years being within one win of the actual total (including two direct hits) and 6 years being outside of that mark.  One of those five was off by two, with two of those years being off by a staggering five games, not to mention last year’s miss by four games. I take some solace in the fact that everyone missed the mark by a wide berth in 2010 and 20112.

So after 12 years I have gotten it right 50 percent of the time, but I wouldn’t call it a coin flip proposition since there is the possibility of going 0-12 and no element of chance as you get with a coin flip.  Still, take this for what it’s worth; my best effort to guess what Iowa’s football season will be like.

Northern Illinois: It’s a home game against a MAC team coming off an Orange Bowl bid with a Heisman Hopeful at quarterback (Jordan Lynch), one who can do damage with his arms and legs. They don’t have the dynamic defensive frontline they had one year ago and I think that is going to make the difference, but Phil Steele is picking them to win the MAC, again. WIN

Missouri State:  Terry Allen is their head coach and has an Iowa connection.  Neat.  Iowa has no business losing to Missouri State and I hope this game isn’t close:  WIN

at Iowa State:  Iowa at Iowa State in December could be a game between Top 25 ranked basketball teams, or close to it.  The game at Ames in week three of Iowa’s football season?  Not so much.  I won’t go as far as to call it a pillow fight, but I would wager that the loser of this game will have a very tough time going bowling.  Iowa State’s schedule is pretty tough and Iowa’s is tougher than last year.  One thing I really like for this young Iowa team is the fact they will have two games under their belt before heading to Ames.  Iowa State will also be a young team and they have a bye week after their season opener.  ISU pundits may say that works to their advantage.  No matter who plays quarterback for Iowa in this game, he will be making his first appearance on the road.  First time Iowa starters don’t fare so well in Ames.  LOSS

Western Michigan:  Iowa cannot lose to a directional Michigan school at home for the second year in a row.  OK, I guess it can, but if it does and Iowa winds up 2-2 heading into Big Ten play for the second year in a row, it’s going to be a very, very dicey October.  WIN

at Minnesota:  This game is played on September 28th, so five games will be in the book before October.  Minnesota has been picked to finish 6th in the Legends in most magazines I have seen, but they return 10 starters on offense including a young quarterback who looked good at times last year.  Iowa won 31-13 one year ago and I do think the Hawkeyes will have a better offense and defense this year.  I think Iowa wins a very close one and perhaps the quarterback who ‘gets the win’ on the road here will have taken the job by the reigns.  WIN

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Michigan State:  The Spartans visit Kinnick in game six of the season.  Iowa’s quarterback situation will have hopefully been solidified by now and the young defensive line may be playing with a bit of confidence by now, too.  Michigan State does not have that bruising running back we have come to expect, or at least I don’t see him on the depth chart right now. Andrew Maxwell should be better at quarterback and the Spartans defense will be good again, but perhaps not as imposing as it has been the past two years.  I think we are setting up for another low scoring affair and I give Iowa the nod at home. WIN

MIDPOINT SYNOPSIS:  I have Iowa at 5-1 at this point but can easily see a path to 3-3 or even 2-4.  Losses to NIU, ISU, Minnesota and MSU would not be a stretch.  If Iowa were 2-4 at this point of the year…wait…I don’t even want to think about it.  They could also be 6-0 at this point of the season.  I feel like I know less about this team than I did about last year’s team and I missed the mark last year by four games.

What’s interesting to me is that the strength of this Iowa team would seem to be it’s running game and at times a power running game.  The Power I am talking about can be found at tackle for Iowa, as the Hawkeyes will be starting two future pro’s.  Given their depth at tight end, I think Iowa may use one of them as an H back at times (say Ray Hamilton) along with CJ Fiedorowicz at the traditional tight end position or even spread out wide.  I think we will see Damon Bullock and Jordan Canzeri getting the ball in numerous ways; out of the slot or lined up out wide, jet sweeps, etc.

During the spring game, Iowa went uptempo and no huddle.  You can still have a power running game out of spread formations and uptempo.  But I just have a hard time believing that we are going to see a great deal of that type of offense once we get into the heart of the season.

What does the second half of the season have in store for Iowa?  Will they make it to a bowl game?  After all, if they win one more game, according to my prediction, they are bowl eligible.  CLICK HERE for my predictions for Iowa’s second half.