It’s been a rough start to the 2022 season for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Last week’s 27-14 loss to #4 Michigan didn’t do much to help matters for Iowa fans who have spent all year looking for any light at the end of the offensive tunnel. At this point, the light appears to simply be the headlights on a freight train.
Despite all the troubles, we did see the most productive game of the early Big Ten season last week from an offensive standpoint. Things looked pretty ugly for most of the game, but Spencer Petras ultimately managed 246 yards through the air while completing 68% of his passes and finished with a pair of TDs. Those are winning numbers in this system, but they came after three plus quarters of ineptitude to dig the Hawkeyes out of a 20-0 hole.
As a result, very few Hawkeye fans are feeling better this week than they were a week ago.
Despite the general pessimism, however, most Hawkeyes are still not ready to pull the plug on things. At least not all things.
For most of this season, we’ve asked for fan input on whether it’s time to insert Alex Padilla into the starting lineup over Spencer Petras and whether offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz should be fired. The answer much of the year has been a resounding yes, but apathy has begun to set in.
This week, with the backdrop of Iowa’s next opponent having just throttled the Wisconsin Badgers to the point where they fired their head coach mid-season (a coach with who won Big Ten Coach of the year nearly 30% of his seasons in Madison and on the West more than 40% of his season all while having a better win percentage than Iowa’s head man), we asked if Iowa AD Gary Barta should follow in the footsteps of Wisconsin and Nebraska and fire Kirk Ferentz this year.
Interestingly, despite 23 years of evidence that this offense is more the result of Kirk Ferentz than his son, Iowa fans by and large are NOT ready to fire the dean of college football.
Perhaps that’s the equity Ferentz has built with the program. It does seem to run counter to general feelings about the season as thing stand and where fans expect things to trend the rest of the way.
Notably, Iowa fans are largely expecting 6-7 wins this season, after starting the year looking for 8-9. The even more interesting piece, however, is just how many fans expect a truly abysmal season. After Ferentz got things rolling in year three, he’s only had a single season in 21 where the Hawkeyes won fewer than six games. Yet the same percentage of fans expect Iowa to repeat that miserable record as expect them to win seven games (and perhaps this is the same subset of the fanbase which does think it’s time to say goodbye to KF).
As it relates to this week and Iowa’s trip to Champaign for a night game where they are looking for a ninth straight win over a border rival, just over 40% of fans are expecting a Hawkeye victory. Contrast that to preseason when a full 95% of Iowa fans thought the Hawkeyes would emerge victorious.
Things are clearly trending worse in Iowa City.
Meanwhile, in Champaign, fan and player confidence is approaching all-time highs. After destroying Wisconsin, more than half of Illini fans now expect Illinois to win not just this week, but also the following week against Minnesota. That would clearly put the Illini in the driver’s seat for the West - something that has never happened since the advent of divisions. Illinois hasn’t won a Big Ten title in more than two decades.
More specific to just this week, a full 90% of Illinois fans expect a win under the lights in Memorial Stadium.
The Hawkeyes and Illini are primed to kick off at 6:30pm CT on Saturday night. Tonight’s game will be broadcast on BTN.
Be sure to check to the Game Center for all the details and updates on this week’s matchup.
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