Howe: Game-By-Game Predictions for Iowa Football ’20

August 7, 2020

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Big Ten released its retooled football schedule this week. It announced earlier this summer a conference-only mandate in order to regulate safety protocols across the league during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The slate is built with bye weeks and flexibility allowing for virus outbreaks that could cause postponements like we’ve seen in Major League Baseball. It’s anyone’s guess if college football with 120 players per team in a contact sport can pull off a season and what it might look like at the end.

All we can do is approach life on a day-to-day basis in these strange times. College football is no different.

With that in mind, here are my game-by-game predictions for Iowa Football:

Sept. 5

Maryland at Iowa

Howe I See It – The Terps step into the opening week originally reserved for an in-state matchup with Northern Iowa. The Hawkeyes will be favored against a Maryland outfit lacking consistency at quarterback and a defense that ranked 115 of 130 teams in scoring defense a year ago after allowing 34.7 points per game. The home team should score early and often here.

Prediction – IOWA 34, Maryland 16

Sept. 12

Iowa at Purdue

Howe I See It – I picked the Boilermakers in an upset here within my Fearless Predictions piece last week. That was when the game was sandwiched between matchups with rivals Nebraska and Wisconsin during November. I still don’t like this spot for the Hawkeyes. Purdue is a tough matchup, and it’s Iowa’s first road game, albeit one with few or no fans.

Prediction – Purdue 27, IOWA 24

Sept. 19

Iowa at Minnesota

Howe I See It – Originally slated for a Friday night kickoff, we’ll see if that holds. No matter when it’s played, the Golden Gophers will be geared up. They’ve dropped five in a row in this series and seven of the last eight. They also lost their top two receivers from ’19, a huge blow to their offense. Minnesota does return all five starters on the O-Line that averages 6-6, 340 pounds along with talented QB Tanner Morgan.

Prediction – Minnesota 24, IOWA 23

Sept. 26

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Nebraska at Iowa

Howe I See It – The Hawkeyes also have captured five in a row against Nebraska. Iowa held off a Husker comeback attempt last season in Lincoln. Coach Scott Frost has posted a 9-15 mark in two years at his alma mater and the Big Red fans are becoming restless with their favorite son. Iowa is continues being better defensively, and until Nebraska figures things out on that side of the ball, it’s going to be in the wrong end of the outcome.

Prediction – IOWA 30, Nebraska 20

Oct. 3

Northwestern at Iowa

Howe I See It – The Wildcats were a disaster in ’19 a year after winning the Big Ten West. Much of the struggles could be attributed to poor quarterback play. It would seem they’ve rectified that situation by bringing in Indiana graduate transfer Peyton Ramsey. He’ll operate behind an O-Line that returns four of five starters and with a talented, experienced group of skill players. Nine starters return on defense. Northwestern could jump back up the standings.

Prediction – IOWA 20, Northwestern 17

Oct. 10

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Iowa at Illinois

Howe I See It – Coach Lovie Smith engineered an upset of Wisconsin and returned the Illini to the postseason in ’19. He brings back underrated quarterback Brandon Peters along with one of the conference’s best-kept secrets in receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe and all five starters on the offensive front. While Lovie has raised the talent level on his roster and improved what was an awful defense, Illinois is not yet at the level of the top teams in the West.

Prediction – IOWA 24, Illinois 16

Oct. 24

Iowa at Penn State

Howe I See It – The Nittany Lions begin the season at No. 7 in the Coaches Poll with a lot of talent returning in State College. They will be without Micah Parsons, their all-American linebacker who opted out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns. Iowa killer KJ Hamler left early for the NFL. Penn State brings back 85 career starts on its offensive line and an underrated quarterback in Sean Clifford. Parsons’ exit leaves PSU with just four starters returning in defense but there’s usually talent waiting in the wings.

Prediction – Penn State 28, IOWA 24

Oct. 31

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Michigan State at Iowa

Howe I See It – The coach Mel Tucker era kicks off in East Lansing this season after an overall strong run by his predecessor, Mark Dantonio, the program leader in wins. Sparty will be replacing starting quarterback Brian Lewerke without the benefit of spring practice and disrupted summer workouts thanks to a coronavirus outbreak on the team. On top of that, defensive line stalwart Jacob Panasiuk opted out of the season because of COVID-19 concerns. Tucker has his work cut out for him.

Prediction – IOWA 31, Michigan St. 16

Nov. 14

Wisconsin at Iowa

Howe I See It – What Iowa has done to Minnesota the last decade the Badgers have exacted on the Hawkeyes. Wisconsin has captured four in a row in this series and seven of the last eight. The Badgers are replacing a lot on offense with the exit of all-world running back Jonathan Taylor and dangerous receiver Quintez Cephus. They also are replacing three starters on the offensive line. Nine starters return on defense. Both teams will be coming off a scheduled bye. No excuses for Iowa if it’s hoping to reverse a negative trend against the Badgers.

Prediction – IOWA 21, Wisconsin 20

Nov. 21

Iowa at Ohio State

Howe I See It – We’re sure to hear a lot of about Iowa handing the Buckeyes one of their most embarrassing loses ever in ’17 at Kinnick Stadium. The programs will meet for the first time since that contest, and while many of the faces on both sides have changed, Ohio State will be ready and quite possibly in line for the College Football Playoff. Justin Fields will be the best quarterback the Hawkeyes face in ’20, and he’s surrounded by top-flight talent. It’s a tough spot already for an Iowa team coming off a rivalry game with Wisconsin, and the Buckeyes will be returning from a bye.

Prediction – Ohio State 35, IOWA 20

So, there you have it. I have the Hawkeyes compiling a 6-4 record against the conference’s toughest schedule on paper.

If my prognostications play out, Iowa would be 5-2 in the West. Topping the Badgers for the division will be tough with Wisconsin’s light slate.

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