With just one week now standing between us and the return of Hawkeye football, we culminate our week of predictions with you, the people. Last week, we asked you all for your outlook on Iowa football in 2021 and you all delivered.
Boy did you deliver. In total, we had more than 700 responses to our poll on the upcoming season. Dozens of you have chimed in with thoughts in the comment section both for the original solicitation and for the prediction pieces we’ve run all week.
As you’d expect with that many people, there are a wide range of expectations. But by and large, the community here at BHGP seems to be a bit more optimistic for the Hawkeyes than the staff or the broader SB Nation Big Ten media.
Let’s take a look at the expectations for Iowa’s 2021 season as voted on by you, the fans.
The staff here at BHGP voted earlier this week and as we reported on Monday, The Pants is calling for a 9-3 finish for your Iowa Hawkeyes in 2021. On the high end, Kendall has Iowa going 10-2 while someone used Bartt’s Cheerios as a restroom as he has Iowa finishing the year at 7-5 (feel free to boo him in the comments again).
While there is certainly much more dispersion among the community here at large, you all came to roughly the same consensus as the staff. Out of 658 votes on the overall record, 32% of you are expecting Iowa to finish 9-3. That also happens to be the average (mean) record projected by the community.
Interestingly, almost 78% of respondents expect the Hawkeyes to finish somewhere between 8-4 and 10-2. As you can see above, 10-2 was the second most popular response, followed by 8-4, which seems to indicate the fanbase is erring on the side of optimism. That gets exacerbated by 12-0 and 11-1 being the 5th and 6th most common response.
Tossing in those that project Iowa at 7-5, you’ve got 85% of the respondents falling in line with the range of outcomes predicted by the BHGP staff.
But for as much optimism as there is broadly, the fanbase also has plenty of pessimists. While no staff member called for a result worse than 7-5, a full 15% of you expect Iowa to finish .500 or worse this year. And yes, some of you are expecting (or trolling ?) Iowa to go winless in 2021. If Iowa does crumble, that would mark the first time in nearly a decade (nine years to be exact) and just the sixth time in the KF era (including those first two miserable seasons) the Hawkeyes finish at or below .500 on the year.
Best Win and Worst Loss
Beyond just asking you all for your expectation for an overall record, we also asked you to pick Iowa’s best win and worst loss on the year. The results are a bit interesting. For perhaps the first time ever, the expected best win of the 2021 season as voted on by Iowa fans is..... Iowa State. The Cyclones enter the season ranked #8 overall, thus providing a rare opportunity for the Hawkeyes to beat a ranked ISU team.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise the Cy-Hawk game was the most common choice, earning more than 30% of the vote on that question, given ISU is currently the highest ranked team on Iowa’s schedule. But it will forever be strange to say out loud.
Even more interestingly, Iowa State was the second-highest vote getter for Iowa’s worst loss of the season with just over 20% of the vote there. That did fall short of taking the cake for worst loss as Northwestern is once again expected to be a thorn in the Hawkeyes’ side. The Wildcats edged out Iowa State with 22% of the vote. There was a big drop off from there with Nebraska, Wisconsin and Purdue each receiving around 9% of the vote.
We also asked you all to make your predictions on a number of player categories. While there were plenty of interesting entries (shout out Nate Stanley on his votes for offensive MVP, intrigued by the prospect of Tyler Linderbaum playing defense and to the multiple respondents who voted Adrian Martinez of Nebraska as Iowa’s defensive MVP, I did indeed laugh out loud), the votes for MVP went sort of how you might expect.
On the offensive side of the ball, Tyler Goodson was the clear winner, though a fair contingent had the All-American Tyler Linderbaum (seems like he could be OK this year) as the MVP. On defense, it was a runaway for Jack Campbell (and props to the voter who decided that rather than choosing between Campbell and fellow LB Seth Benson they would just combine them into Seth Campbell).
In terms of the team overall, Goodson emerged victorious. The aforementioned Campbell and Linderbaum, as well as Spencer Petras, also received plenty of votes. But in the end, Goodson received 22% of the vote to take the win.
In the breakout category, redshirt freshman defensive tackle Yahya Black emerged as the leader. Given the departure of Daviyon Nixon and Jack Heflin, Black is a solid bet to earn significant minutes in the middle of Phil Parker’s defense.
And finally, Nebraska native Keagan Johnson is the clear frontrunner for newcomer of the year in 2021. The Husker legacy has earned loads of hype after impressing in spring practice (he was an early enrollee) and fall camp. He’s expected to play a significant role in replacing the production lost by current Minnesota Viking Ihmir Smith-Marsette.
The Rest of the Big Ten
Outside of the questions related to Iowa specifically, we also asked you all to speak your minds on the Big Ten at large. As with both the BHGP staff and the rest of the SB Nation Big Ten media, the fanbase seems to be in complete agreement that Ohio State is winning the East.. Iowa’s week one opponent #17 Indiana and week six opponent #19 Penn State also received more than 2% of the vote each, but the Buckeyes ran away with 95% of votes cast.
Things were a bit more contentious in the West with the fanbase substantially more optimistic on the Hawkeyes than either the staff or the SB Nation Big Ten media. The community voted Iowa as the winner of the West with nearly 55% of the 669 votes cast.
Wisconsin finished second with 41% of the vote in dramatic divergence from the media poll. In the media, 79% of respondents chose the Badgers to win the West while 63% of the BHGP staff is on Wisconsin.
Beyond Iowa and Wisconsin, Northwestern, Minnesota and Purdue all received votes to win the division. And more than one of you selected Nebraska to make it to Indianapolis. Ugh.
Speaking of Indianapolis, more than 17% of you went full homer and took the Hawkeyes to win the whole damn thing. If you feel that way, you can make a pretty penny putting your money where your vote is. Iowa is currently going off at +950 to win the Big Ten Championship.
Ohio State, on the other hand, is the odds on favorite to win the conference title for a fifth straight year. The Buckeyes are currently going at -222 to win the title so the 78% of you that are on Ohio State stand to win a little less if you want to get in on the action.
Thanks to everyone for participating in the fan poll. Here’s hoping the optimism among the fanbase is warranted. We’ll get our first indications in just over a week.