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Hawkeye Football: The Pants Predicts Iowa’s 2021 Season

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The staff gazes into their crystal ball and predicts all the important details for Iowa’s 2021 football season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 12 Penn State at Iowa
The Swarm is nearly back in Kinnick.
Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Prediction week here at The Pants officially kicked off on Monday with some of our boldest predictions for the 2021 season. While those are largely rooted in potential reality, they may not be the best reflection of what we, the staff, actually think is going to happen in 2021 for the Iowa Hawkeyes.

So, to get a better idea of what we’re predicting for Iowa this season, we asked our staff to each provide their individual predictions for the year. On average, we’re expecting the Hawkeyes to finish the year at 9-3 and 7-2 in the Big Ten. Perhaps most notable there is that the staff is predicting Iowa to get all 12 regular season games in. Or at least that none will be called a no-contest under the Big Ten’s new rules on COVID-related game cancellations.

Not surprisingly, our staff is expecting good things out of the Tylers - both Goodson and Linderbuam. On defense, Jack Campbell is our guy to watch. We also had the staff take their shot at a breakout candidate and the biggest sleeper on the team this season.

Those and a few other takes on the quickly approaching 2021 Iowa football season from each of our staff members below.


JPinIC

Like any other Iowa season, I expect this one to have a floor around 7-5 and a ceiling around 10-2. Realistically, 10-2 has a pretty low probability and the cores of the bell curve sits firmly between 8-4 and 9-3. For me, I trend more optimistic based on what Phil Parker has returning, especially in the back end, and the potential of this running game. Yes, there are new faces on the offensive line, but Tyler Linderbaum is a one man wrecking crew and Tyler Goodson is the best all-around back Iowa has had since Shon Greene.

There are worries about the passing game, but Spencer Petras really just needs to be not worse than last year and this year is likely to finish at 8-4. Any improvement out of him and 9-3 feels appropriate. I’ll probably be disappointed, but I’m taking the upside.

Record: 9-3, 7-2

Best Win: Indiana

Worst Loss: Penn State

Offensive MVP: Tyler Goodson

Defensive MVP: Jack Campbell

Breakout Player: Keagan Johnson

Sleeper: Deontae Craig

Bartt Pierce

I am optimistic and pessimistic at the same time. How’s that for covering my bases? The Hawks have some incredible talent in Tyler Linderbaum and Tyler Goodson on offense. I am hopeful that Spencer Petras will make strides from last year; he improved as the year went on. I’m worried about replacing two tackles on the offensive line, especially with younger guys. Our defensive line scares the heck out of me. Our linebackers could be special, and our defensive backs are experienced and we have nice depth. That won’t matter, however, if we are getting run over in the trenches. If anyone can do it, Phil Parker can. So, there is that.

Record: 7-5, 5-4

Best Win: Purdue??!!?!?

Worst Loss: Iowa State (Cuz… Iowa State)

Offensive MVP: Tyler Goodson / Tyler Linderbaum

Defensive MVP: Jack Campbell

Breakout Player: Keagan Johnson / Cooper DeJean

Sleeper: Arland Bruce IV

MattReisener

Iowa could realistically start the season 0-2, though the 2020 campaign shows that an auspicious start doesn’t necessarily make a mid-season rebound impossible. If the Hawkeyes manage to win their first two games, it might be time to start shopping for hotels in Indianapolis. My guess is that they split their first two contests, as it’s tough to imagine Iowa losing its first game since 2019 played in a sold-out Kinnick Stadium.

Iowa’s success this year will be determined by its play in the trenches. If the Hawkeye tackles can keep Spencer Petras upright and if Kyler Schott works his way back into the lineup sooner rather than later, the offense could be poised to improve this season due to its impressive athleticism at every skill position. On the other side of the ball, the Hawkeyes don’t need their defensive line to reach the lofty heights of the past several seasons, but Iowa’s front four does need to avoid getting blown off the line to create opportunities for the back seven to do their job. If the Hawkeyes struggle in these areas, 8-4 or even 7-5 could be possible. If the lines come together and Spencer Petras can improve on his inconsistent 2020 campaign, the Hawkeyes could win the Big ten West.

Record: 9-3, 7-2

Best Win: Penn State

Worst Loss: Northwestern

Offensive MVP: Tyler Linderbaum

Defensive MVP: Dane Belton

Breakout Player: Yahya Black and Jestin Jacobs

Sleeper: Mason Richman

Kendall Phipps

I think I can confidently say that this Iowa team will be playing in a bowl game this postseason, but I think their ceiling is a Big Ten title game appearance. I might be being way too optimistic but I think with the talent this team has, they can realistically finish 10-2 or even 11-1. Tyler Goodson is set for an amazing campaign behind one of the top offensive lineman in the nation. On the other side of the ball is a loaded secondary and a defense led by Phil Parker. This Iowa team is ready to make some noise.

Record: 10-2, 8-1

Best Win: Indiana

Worst Loss: Penn State

Offensive MVP: Tyler Goodson

Defensive MVP: Dane Belton

Breakout Player: Yahya Black

Sleeper: Arland Bruce IV

Rob Donaldson

The way last season played out was rather unfortunate for many different reasons... a lack of an out of conference schedule led to young, inexperienced players being thrust into the heat of Big Ten competition without any real tune-up, which undoubtedly led to early-season mistakes. Not to mention, there was no home atmosphere and the season’s final two games were cancelled as a result of COVID outbreaks.

From week three on, the Iowa team that took the field last season was one of the best teams the program has had in decades and, as I’m on record of saying, I firmly believe last year’s team was more talented and played better than the Rose Bowl team from the 2015-2016 season.

That said, it’s a new year and a new look, as Iowa tries to move forward despite losing considerable talent from last year’s roster.

Record: 9-3, 7-2

Best Win: Iowa State

Worst Loss: Maryland

Offensive MVP: Tyler Goodson

Defensive MVP: Jack Campbell

Breakout Player: Connor Colby

Sleeper: Jestin Jacobs

Ben Ross

I find myself owning more and more Spencer Petras stock by the day, and in so doing have nearly talked myself into an assured Big Ten West title. That being said, I don’t think Iowa gets the line play on either side of the ball needed to win big in the … B1G. I’m feeling better by Iowa’s first two games in the wheat thresher, but think the table is set for some midseason hiccups.

Record: 9-3, 7-2

Best Win: Iowa State

Worst Loss: Minnesota

Offensive MVP: Tyler Goodson

Defensive MVP: Jack Campbell

Breakout Player: Terry Roberts

Sleeper: Noah Shannon

BoilerHawk

Kirk Ferentz has mastered the season which feels like it should be simultaneously more and less. 2021 will be no different. Iowa has the talent to be quite good but it isn’t in the correct places just yet. Depth will be tested in the trenches early and they won’t be able to pull it out in a nail-biter against Iowa State. Losses to Wisconsin, Penn State, & another non-trophy game will send Iowa’s division championship desires six feet under. But big wins against Minnesota and Nebraska in November will be the balm to those concerns.

Record: 8-4, 6-3

Best Win: Nebraska in Scott Frost’s last game

Worst Loss: Iowa State

Offensive MVP: Tyrone Tracy

Defensive MVP: Jack Campbell

Breakout Player: Leshon Williams

Sleeper: Jestin Jacobs


So there you have it: The Pants’ predictions for Iowa football in 2021. Agree? Disagree? Let’s here your thoughts in the comments below. And don’t forget to get in your predictions. We’ll publish the fan results this Friday.