The Iowa Hawkeyes football team started the 2019 season with a four-game winning streak. They ended it in the same fashion.
In between, the team coached by Kirk Ferentz picked up three losses and two additional wins to finish the season at 10-3. It ended with a trip to San Diego to play in the Holiday Bowl. They were ranked No. 15 in the final Associated Press poll of the year.
Heading toward the fall of 2020 and the hopes of a college football season during a global pandemic, oddsmakers are giving Iowa a 17th-best chance at taking home the national championship, according to sportsbooks monitored by DraftKings.
The Hawkeyes currently stand at +10,000, tied for 17th with Iowa State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, UCF, Utah and Washington.
The only Big Ten teams ahead of them in the odds are Ohio State (second-best odds at +350), Penn State (tied for 11th at +5000) and Michigan (16th at +6600).
What does 2020 look like for Hawkeyes?
Iowa will play host to two in-state rivals to begin the season, followed up with a trip to Minnesota for a Big Ten West rivalry game.
The Hawkeyes do have a couple of tough road games on the schedule when they travel to Ohio State and Penn State in mid-October. They will end the regular season at home against Wisconsin.
Here is the full Iowa football 2020 schedule:
Sept. 5 vs. Northern Iowa
Sept. 12 vs. Iowa State
Sept. 18 at Minnesota
Sept. 26 vs. NIU
Oct. 3 vs. Michigan State
Oct. 10 at Ohio State
Oct. 17 at Penn State
Oct. 24 vs. Northwestern
Nov. 7 at Illinois
Nov. 14 vs. Nebraska
Nov. 21 at Purdue
Nov. 28 vs. Wisconsin
The entire 2020 Big Ten schedule can be found in PDF form at the Big Ten Network.
Iowa has some veterans return on offense
For the first time since 2017, the Iowa Hawkeyes are looking for a starting quarterback. Whoever gets the job is going to have plenty of weapons to work with, including an impressive receiving corps and a likely starting running back who started to break out at the end of last season.
For the full team roster, check out Iowa’s official team site.
Notable returners on offense include quarterbacks Spencer Petras, a redshirt sophomore and Alex Padilla, a redshirt freshman, who are expected to have a bit of a battle to replace the departing Nate Stanley.
A running back, sophomore Tyler Goodson (638 yards rushing and 5 TDs) is expected to be the lead back with seniors Mekhi Sargent, Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin giving additional depth.
The strength of the offense will likely be the receiving corps, which returns basically everyone from last season. Senior Ihmir Smith-Marsette (722, 5 TDs), sophomore Nico Ragaini (439 yards, two TDs), senior Brandon Smith (439, five TDs), redshirt sophomore Tyrone Tracy (539, three TDs) and junior Oliver Martin are back, as are leading tight ends Sam LaPorta and Shaun Beyer.
The offensive line returns senior tackle Alaric Jackson (34 career starts) and redshirt sophomore center Tyler Linderbaum (13 starts), as well as some experience at guard with redshirt junior Kyler Schott (six starts), redshirt junior Mark Kallenberger (five starts) and redshirt senior Cole Banwart (two starts). The offensive line does get a nice addition; however, in tackle Coy Cronk, a grad-transfer out of Indiana with 40 career starts.
Defense has some big shoes to fill
In 2019, the Hawkeyes defense finished 12th in total defense, allowing just 308.2 yards per game. It won’t be easy to return to that level of play, but it isn’t impossible either.
On the defensive front, Iowa returns redshirt senior defensive end Chauncey Golston (47 tackles, 9.5 TFL, three sacks, one interception) as well as experience from redshirt junior Daviyon Nixon (29 tackles, 5.5 TFL and three sacks), redshirt senior Zach VanValkenburg (six tackles), redshirt sophomore Noah Shannon (five tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery) and redshirt senior Austin Schulte (12 tackles, one TFL).
The linebacker corps returns most of the talent from last season. Redshirt junior Djimon Colbert (61 tackles, 2.5 TFL, one INT), redshirt sophomore Dillon Doyle (23 tackles, 0.5 TFL, one FF), redshirt sophomore Joe Evans (seven tackles, four TFL, four sacks) and redshirt senior Nick Niemann (32 tackles, 2.5 TFL, one sack, one pick-six) all return, as does former four-star recruit Jestin Jacobs.
In the defensive backfield, the Hawkeyes lose about half of their production from last year, though redshirt junior safety Jack Koerner (81 tackles, one TFL, one INT, one FF) and senior Matt Hankins (59 tackles, 1.5 TFL, two INTs) bring back plenty of skill. Sophomore D.J. Johnson (14 tackles, one TFL, one sack), junior Riley Moss (five tackles, one TFL, two INTs) and redshirt freshman Dane Belton (33 tackles, two TFL) help round out the defensive backs.