Hawkeye fans, the season is nearly here. One week from now we will firmly be in the midst of a game week previewing Iowa and South Dakota State and all the prognostication and predictions will come to a head.
But before we get there, we have one more week of looking at season long expectations, predictions and some mixture of optimism and pessimism. With that, we asked you all, dear Hawkeye fans, to give us your thoughts on the upcoming season a week ago. Now we have results.
Overall Season Outlook
Much like the Hawkeyes, the results are pretty predictable. On the whole, Iowa fans are expecting Iowa to end the year somewhere between 8-4 and 9-3. That’s pretty fair considering Iowa has finished in that range three of the last five seasons the Hawkeyes played a full 12 game regular season (with one year on either side of that range by a game).
A full 95% of Hawkeye fans expect this year to be like each of the last five seasons where Iowa finishes in that 7-5 to 10-2 range during the regular season. Notably, 89% of respondents think Iowa will win at least 8 games. That’s a key number as the DraftKings Sportsbook line for season long wins has been set at 7.5 for the Hawkeyes. So if you were being truthful in your polling, you can put your money where your vote is and hopefully cash in.
At 8-4 to 9-3, the Hawkeyes would likely be in the hunt for the Big Ten West division title, but on the outside looking in. That’s also been the case four of the last five seasons where a full season was played.
And that’s really what Iowa fans are calling for with nearly 50% of respondents expecting the Hawkeyes to finish second in the West (shout out to the nearly 30% of fans expecting a return trip to Indianapolis!). That’s also slightly more optimistic than the folks at DraftKings Sportsbook. They’ve got Wisconsin with the best odds to win the West at +190, followed by Nebraska at +360 while the Hawkeyes come in third at +400.
Game by Game Analysis
While the Hawkeyes are expected to finish 8-4 or 9-3 by more than 60% of Iowa fans with a full 72% of fans calling for the team to win fewer than 10 games, the game by game results tell a slightly different story.
In total, there are just two games on the schedule where fewer than 50% of respondents expect Iowa to lose. Not surprisingly, those two losses are expected to come at the hands of the two top-10 teams currently on Iowa’s schedule.
Some other notable takeaways here. There are five games where more than 90% of fans expect Iowa to win and eight games where more than 80% of fans expect a win. That includes all four of the matchups where Iowa has a current winning streak of longer than six years (Iowa State, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska). It’s also worth noting that more fans (99%) expect Iowa to win their conference opener against Rutgers than to win their season opener against South Dakota State (97%).
Here’s a look at the game-by-game results from our polling:
Saturday September 3rd vs. South Dakota State
Iowa (97%) vs. South Dakota State (3%)
Saturday September 10th vs. Iowa State
Iowa (87%) vs. Iowa State (13%)
Saturday September 17th vs. Nevada
Iowa (99%) vs. Nevada (1%)
Saturday September 24th @ Rutgers
Iowa (99%) vs. Rutgers (1%)
Saturday October 1st vs. #8 Michigan
Iowa (33%) vs. Michigan (67%)
Saturday October 8th @ Illinois
Iowa (95%) vs. Illinois (5%)
Saturday October 22nd @ Ohio State
Iowa (5%) vs. Ohio State (95%)
Saturday October 29th vs. Northwestern
Iowa (91%) vs. Northwestern (9%)
Saturday November 5th @ Purdue
Iowa (56%) vs. Purdue (44%)
Saturday November 12th vs. #18 Wisconsin
Iowa (53%) vs. Wisconsin (47%)
Saturday November 19th @ Minnesota
Iowa (80%) vs. Minnesota (20%)
Friday November 25th vs. Nebraska
Iowa (86%) vs. Nebraska (14%)
Outside of the season long results and game by game predictions, we also asked fans for their thoughts on who will lead this team in 2022. There were a few key takeaways from that line of questions.
First and foremost, Hawkeye fans are not great at knowing the names of Iowa players. Or at least not how to spell their names. It’s admittedly confusing when the top two running backs on the depth chart are both named Williams (which is the only way to spell either’s last name) and the best option on the outside shares a name with the first lottery pick from the basketball team in a generation but is spelled differently (Keegan plays basketball, Keagan plays football).
Not having a quarterback who’s name has been printed in a positive light in several years also isn’t helping. The variations on Spencer Petras’ name were as diverse as they were plentiful. But that didn’t stop him from being the second most popular pick for offensive player of the year by Hawkeye fans. The expected starter at QB garnered nearly 20% of the vote.
That came behind only tight end Sam LaPorta, Petras’ favorite target and preseason Mackey Award Watch List member, who received more than 35% of the vote. Perhaps the only thing more Iowa than the tight end being the leading vote getter is that both punter Tory Taylor and fullback Monte Pottebaum received multiple votes.
Other top options included each of the Williamses at running back, who received roughly 12% each, as well as Keagan Johnson at 10%. Arland (and Armand!) Bruce IV was the only meaningful vote-getter at ~4% while freshmen RBs Kaleb Johnson and Jazziun Patterson each had a handful of votes, as did Connor Colby and the generic “OL”. Shoutout to someone’s mom and someone else’s dad who also received a vote.
On the defensive side of the ball, it was a runaway for some combination of Jack, Jake and James Campbell (which had some incredible spellings). Iowa’s preseason All-American and All-Big Ten linebacker garnered nearly 75% of the vote. Fellow preseason All-American Riley Moss was next with just over 10% of the vote. Lukas Van Ness was the only other defender to take home more than 2% of the vote at 4.5%. Newcomer Xavier Nwankpa grabbed ~1% of the vote, as did Cooper DeJean, Noah Shannon and Jestin Jacobs. Freshman Aaron Graves also grabbed a couple votes, as did Seth Benson, legendary Alex Karras, defensive coordinator Phil Parker and the generic “interception.”
You folks never disappoint.
As you might expect at this point, the question on preseason sleeper led to results really all over the map. There were more than 100 unique answers on this season’s breakout player, which is remarkable for a team returning as much as Iowa is, especially in a sport where there are only 120 or so players on the roster and less than half will see meaningful playing time.
No player received more than 2% of the vote here, but Petras, Graves, Nwankpa, Van Ness and “the kicker” led the way.
Thanks everyone for participating. We’ll be back this week to walk through the community’s predictions for the Big Ten at large as well as some of the more pointed questions about Iowa’s offensive and defensive outlook this year.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.