It’s time for pulled pork.
It’s time for flannel and letterman sweaters and bean boots.
It’s time for Bailey’s and coffee and kegs and eggs.
It’s time to hype the Hawkeyes into playoff contention before mid-September when Iowa allows a safety in the final minute to lose to Northern Iowa.
It is time for bold takes.
This is not an attempt to predict the future.
This is not a feeble ploy to reverse-jinx Iowa into 12-0 territory.
This is not even a ruse constructed just to rile you up — please don’t get angry at me in the comments. If anything, take pity on a mind that lacks the ability to formulate a measured thought on its favorite football team, but still has the arrogance to put out word vomit that couldn’t even pass as coherent musings on Halloween.
I am Ben Ross, and this is my disposition.
Ten Bold Predictions for Iowa Football in 2018:
1. Iowa will produce two 1,000-yard rushers this year.
Predictably, my first ... prediction ... comes with a huge caveat.
I believe whoever is RB1 will go for about 11, 12, 1300 yards or so this year, whether that be Toren Young or Ivory Kelly-Martin.
Then, I figure, RB2 will be in the 800-1000 range.
And then? Mehki Sargent will pick up the slack. So, this statement would have been better off packaged as “Iowa’s running back committee will combine for over 2,000 yards rushing,” but then I wouldn’t be able to provide the above caveats, which would have surely cooled the take.
2. Iowa will have an all-American on the roster.
Noah Fant. Nate Stanley. Anthony Nelson. Amani Hooker.
Take your pick.
3. Iowa will beat Wisconsin this year, but not make it to the Conference Championship Game.
Iowa will beat Wisconsin in legendary form four weeks from now, only to lose to Purdue on a last-second field goal and fiddlefuck its way in mind-boggling fashion to Nebraska in a game where a win would send Iowa to Indy for the second time in four years.
4. Iowa will win 10 games this year, with or without a bowl game
That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.
(I realize this conflicts directly with take No. 3. Whatever.)
5. There will be a multi-week stretch where people say TJ Hockenson should start over Noah Fant.
Well jokes on you, Iowa starts two tight ends.
6. There will be rumors of Phil Parker leaving after this season.
Believe me, if this comes true, that means Iowa had a fantastic year — not just defensively.
We’ve taken Phil Parker for granted as Iowa fans. It’s time for that to stop.
7. A true freshman will see significant playing time at cornerback this season.
Of all my takes, this is the most lukewarm.
8. Poor punting will cost Iowa a game this season.
Actually, this is my lukewarmest take.
9. Good punting will secure an Iowa win this season.
Nate Stanley had a 47-yard punt last year, people forget that.
10. Nate Stanley will have worse stats this year, but he, and the team, will be better for it.
I just don’t think there’s any possible way Nate Stanley replicates his slash line from last year — particularly his 6-interception rookie season.
I think his TDs go down (slightly) interceptions go up (slightly more than slightly) while his yards and completion percentage stay roughly the same.
If you would, think of this as the reverse-Stanzi: where an Iowa QB puts up pedestrian-to-average numbers, but the team around him thrives.
We can also call this Hornibrooking.
We can, but we won’t.
11. Iowa football will be ranked in the final AP poll of the season.
I believe Iowa ends the season with a bowl win and 10 or more victories.
That’s a recipe for a nice No. 11 ranking to end the year.
See what I did there?
So there you have it.
In general, I like to keep such cavalier and bombastic statements to myself, but once again, I must remind you of the poetic injustice that is me having a keyboard and publishing permissions, while you, dear reader, has just one of those things.
Cheers, and Go Hawks.