Today marks the first game of the 2023 season the Hawkeyes will take the field without their new starting QB after former Michigan starter Cade McNamara tore his ACL on Iowa’s second drive of the game against Michigan State in week five.
In McNamara’s absence, backup Deacon Hill, himself a transfer from Wisconsin, came on in relief and finished the day 11 of 27 passing for 115 yards with one TD and one interception. The performance wasn’t spectacular, but it was perhaps better than the stats showed. Iowa receivers dropped six passes that were largely on the money and would have raised Hill’s completion percentage from 41% to 63%.
In short, Hill was good enough for the Hawkeyes to emerge victorious over the Spartans. Sure, that was thanks in large part to the heroics of superstar Cooper DeJean and his 70-yard punt return, but that’s part of the game and not any different than what Iowa has come to expect every time they take the field.
So perhaps it’s not terribly surprising that Hawkeye fans seem un-phased by the loss of McNamara for the remainder of the season. In this week’s DraftKings Reacts poll, we asked you once again to predict now many games the Hawkeyes would win this regular season and once again, the fanbase is pretty solidly hanging around 8-9 wins for Iowa this year.
There’s certainly been a decline in the number of people predicting significant success for Iowa this year, but nearly three quarters of respondents still expect the Hawkeyes to win eight or more games this season. Nearly half of fans still think the Hawkeyes will win more than nine games.
Why? Perhaps they saw enough from Hill in his debut to be convinced he can get the job done. Or perhaps they’ve seen enough of Iowa over the years to know that unless the QB play is really, truly bad, the defense and special teams is going to do enough to drag the offense along for eight or more wins most seasons.
Either way, the fanbase remains relatively optimistic about the remainder of the Hawkeyes’ season.
That optimism spreads to today’s matchup where again, roughly three quarters of Hawkeye fans expect Iowa to emerge victorious.
The 73% is a meaningful drop from the 100% of respondents in our pre-season poll who expected Iowa to defeat Purdue. However, given the Hawkeyes just lost their star quarterback and we’re a week removed from the program’s first shutout in more than two decades, it’s frankly impressive that such a large portion of the fanbase still believes in this group.
Or at least clicked that way on the poll.
We’ll know shortly whether that optimism is warranted. The Hawkeyes and Boilermakers are set to kick off at 2:30pm CT on Peacock.