The Iowa Hawkeyes Wrestling team announced the 2014-2015 season schedule early Tuesday morning. The only exciting home dates include Iowa State and the Cliff Keen National Duals.
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What makes Iowa-Iowa State an exciting dual is not the matchups (it should be another fairly lopsided win for Iowa), but the fact the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series will happen on Nov. 28th, Black Friday. This SHOULD be a sold out dual between old rivals because plenty of fans will be in town for the Iowa vs Nebraska football game. If all goes well, that day could include a pair of beatdowns of hated rivals. Iowa will look to extend their winning streak to ten straight in the series. I'm not going to lie -- I miss Iowa-Iowa State being an actual rivalry... but I don't really mind beating up on little brother, either.
The rest of the home schedule isn't worth talking about until our dual previews (Illinois, Michigan, and Northwestern will have some tough individual matchups, but they don't appear to yet have the overall firepower of the top teams) so we will focus in on Iowa's road schedule against heavy hitters Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Minnesota and Penn State. Did we mention before that all of these duals the Iowa Hawkeyes will be headed back to Midlands? This tournament recently has not been as tough as in years past (although it remains to be seen who's in the field this year), but as it lies on the schedule here it starts a brutal two week stretch for the Hawkeyes. Pack your bags gentlemen because this will be one heck of a road dual schedule.
An early look at these duals probably has the Hawkeyes favored in every single dual, BUT they would be very, very narrow favorites over the likes of Ohio State, Minnesota, and Penn State. Those duals could be very tightly contested showdowns -- and unfortunately Iowa won't be able to rely on the energy from the home crowd to push them to an extra win in any of those duals.
As mentioned above, the Cliff Keen National Duals are also returning to Iowa, where they belong. The National Duals were held in Cedar Falls (at the UNI Dome) for several years in their previous format (one-day tournament) and were a rousing attendance success almost every year (thanks in no small part to Cedar Falls' proximity to Iowa fans). The last two years have been flops for attendance (at MInnesota and Ohio State) so the NWCA is finally getting it right by hosting the final rounds of the competition (quarterfinals, semifinals, finals) in Iowa. The bigger intrigue is in which teams will be a part of the field this year. Iowa has sat out National Duals a few times since the event changed formats, but if they're hosting it this year, it seems like a safe bet that they'll be one of the teams involved. Minnesota will no doubt be back to defend their title from a year ago. Penn State is rumored to be participating this year. Cornell and Ohio State have been regular participants in recent years, as has Oklahoma State. If all of those teams do participate in the Duals this year, we could truly see a battle of the very best teams in college wrestling -- which could make for one hell of a great day of wrestling in Iowa City.
The biggest question mark on this schedule is the absence of the University of Northern Iowa. UNI was the only Division I wrestling team to finish the dual season undefeated (13-0) last season. Granted, their schedule isn't a B1G schedule, but it was still an impressive accomplishment. Doug Schwab and company have placed 15th at the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons. They finished with 40 points last year which was only two behind Iowa State and only five from a top ten finish.
The Panther train is rolling and we need to get them on the schedule either during the Iowa City Duals or a triangular dual with Iowa State. How fun would that be for the fans and wrestlers Tweet @Schwabwrestling and @TomBrandsHAWK to make it HAPPEN! Hey, it worked for Iowa and Penn State a year ago... And it's possible that this isn't the full schedule, too -- despite being a two-day event, Midlands only counts as one competition date and the National Duals don't really count at all, so Iowa could still have room to add another opponent or two to this slate.
2014-15 Iowa Wrestling Schedule
Nov. 21 (Friday) Iowa City Duals, Iowa City, Iowa (Baker, Cornell, Iowa CC)
Nov. 28 (Friday) Iowa State, Iowa City, Iowa
Dec. 6 (Saturday) Michigan State, Iowa City, Iowa
Dec. 29 (Monday) at Midlands, Evanston, Ill.
Dec. 30 (Tuesday) at Midlands, Evanston, Ill.
Jan. 2 (Friday) at Rutgers, Piscataway, N.J.
Jan. 4 (Sunday) at Ohio State, Columbus, Ohio
Jan. 11 (Sunday) at Oklahoma State, Stillwater, Okla.
Jan. 16 (Friday) Illinois, Iowa City, Iowa
Jan. 23 (Friday) Northwestern, Iowa City, Iowa
Feb. 1 (Sunday) at Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.
Feb. 6 (Friday) at Penn State, State College, Pa.
Feb. 8 (Sunday) at Maryland College Park, Md.
Feb. 13 (Friday) Michigan, Iowa City, Iowa
Feb. 15 (Sunday) Cliff Keen National Duals, Iowa City, Iowa
Feb. 22 (Sunday) Cliff Keen National Duals, Iowa City, Iowa
Mar. 7 (Saturday) at Big Ten Championships, Columbus, Ohio
Mar. 8 (Sunday) at Big Ten Championships, Columbus, Ohio
Mar. 19 (Thursday) at NCAA Championships, St. Louis
Mar. 20 (Friday) at NCAA Championships, St. Louis
Mar. 21 (Saturday) at NCAA Championships, St. Louis