We. Are. Back.
We’re back! Week 0 of the college football season is in the books and now the real fun begins with the first game week of the 2022 season. The Hawkeyes open the year with a home showdown with FCS South Dakota State.
Yes, that’s SOUTH Dakota State, as in the the one to the south of NORTH Dakota State. You know, the last FCS team to upset the Hawkeyes inside Kinnick Stadium in a 23-21 frustration fest back in 2016 when the Hawkeyes entered the year ranked inside the top-15 nationally.
Heading into Saturday’s 2022 opener, the Hawekeyes are not ranked nationally, sitting just outside the top-25 in both the AP and Coaches Polls. Iowa closed out the 2021 season with a pair of losses in the post-season. After winning the Big Ten West and earning a trip to Indianapolis, the Hawkeyes were demolished by Michigan in the Big Ten Championship Game and ultimately fell in a nail-biter against Kentucky in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl.
South Dakota State is also coming off a successful season that ended in some disappointment. The Jackrabbits finished 2021 11-4 and fourth in the Missouri Valley after closing the season winners of two of their final three regular season matchups. That helped build momentum heading into the FCS playoffs where SDSU won three straight to earn a showdown with Montana State in the semifinals. The Jackrabbits would fall 31-17 in their season finale as Montana State moved on to the championship game where they lost to national champion North Dakota State.
Coming into 2022, the Jackrabbits are again expected to make a top-4 finish in the Valley, entering the year ranked #3 nationally in FCS, and are looking to jumpstart their season in a big way with a road victory over an FBS opponent. They were able to do so a season ago as they traveled to Colorado State and defeated the Rams 42-23 - a wider margin than the Hawkeyes would post in their 24-14 win over the same CSU team inside Kinnick a few weeks later.
Here’s an early look at what you need to know about this week’s matchup.
Date: Saturday, September 3rd
Time: 11:00am CT
Matchup: South Dakota State Jackrabbits (0-0, 0-0) at Iowa Hawkeyes (0-0, 0-0)
Location: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
Preliminary Weather Forecast: sunny with temps in the mid-80s, 5% chance of rain
DraftKings Opening Line: N/A
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
Saturday’s matchup between the Jackrabbits and Hawkeyes will be the first ever between the two programs on the gridiron. While it’s the first meeting between the two programs, it’s not the first time this SDSU team has taken on an FBS opponent. As noted, they won their lone FBS matchup a season ago against Colorado State. The Jackrabbits did not play an FBS opponent in 2020 as the season was postponed to spring of 2021.
That makes for an interesting scheduling note as SDSU played a shocking 25 games in calendar year 2021. That includes the 15 regular and postseason games for the fall 2021 schedule, as well as 10 games in the spring that were previously scheduled for fall 2020.
South Dakota State has covered the spread in their last six matchups with FBS opponents. While there is no line publicly available on the Iowa-SDSU matchup as of Monday, it should be a good indication the Jackrabbits will look to play a tight contest in Kinnick.
That may spell bad news for the Hawkeyes this season. Hat tip to our own @BoilerHawk for the leg work on an incredible stat: Big Ten teams that win by fewer than 21 points against an FCS opponent have won more than 8 games in a season just one time over the last ten years. The other 17 occurrences all saw Big Ten teams win fewer than 8 games. Notably, only three of 17 Big Ten teams to even schedule a week one matchup against an FCS opponent have gone on to win more than 8 games.
The Hawkeyes will need to buck the trend if they hope for full season success in 2022.
Preseason Prep Work
As we march toward kick off, be sure to check out our preseason preview for this week’s matchup. There’s loads of important details and unique looks at this week’s opponent, including this great set of stats:
10 straight FCS playoff appearances: The only thing Coach Stieg hasn’t brought to Brookings is a national championship trophy. They’ve been in the FCS semifinals (or further) in 4 of the last 5 tournaments. They’re one of two teams to have a current decade-long streak.
2 wins against FBS opponents: They beat a shared opponent in Colorado State last year and Kansas in 2015. Last season’s win against Colorado State was the season opener and it was, uh, not pretty, at 42-23.
3 games with 20 points or less: Last season, the Jackrabbits averaged 36.1 points/game (10th in FCS), in large part by their ability to limit poor offensive outings. Iowa had 5, which is even more (9) when you take away defensive/special teams touchdowns.
27 takeaways: South Dakota State had a top 4 turnover margin at a clean 1.00/game, mainly by their ability to intercept passes at 21 (led the country there, from what I can tell). Part of the elite turnover margin is not turning it over themselves, and they had just 12 on the season.
If you’re on the go, there’s also a details look at the matchup from the official podcast of the Hawkeyes here:
In terms of predictions, both the BHGP staff and Hawkeye fans at large were feeling pretty confident ahead of the season.
Staff Prediction: Iowa Win, Unanimous
Fan Prediction: Iowa Win, 97% of the vote
BizarroMath Prediction: N/A (FCS opponents are not compatible)
Check back in throughout the week as all preview and postgame stories will be published to this stream.