2012 Iowa Hawkeyes
Record: 4-8 (2-6 B1G)
B1G Standing: 6th Place- Legends Division, 9th Place overall (three-way tie with Indiana and Minnesota)
Offensive Stat Leaders: Passing: James Vandenberg: 2,249 yards, 7 TDs, 8 INTs (57.3 comp %)... Rushing: Mark Weisman: 159 att., 815 yards, 8 TDs... Receiving: Kevonte Martin-Manley: 52 recs., 571 yards, 2 TDs
The Hawkeyes had good reason to be optimistic and excited headed into the 2012 season. They had a returning senior quarterback and new coordinators on both sides of the ball (because, of course, the same-old gets boring). Most importantly, though, they had a schedule that set up rather favorably for a Big Ten title run, missing both Ohio State and Wisconsin from the Leaders division and having Penn State, Nebraska and Purdue (preseason thought to be pretty good) at home.
Then the season actually began.
A too-close for comfort one-point victory over the BCS-bound Northern Illinois Huskies started the season, followed closely by a loss to MHR (this time seriously) Iowa State (by another baseball score, 9-6), then a closer-than-the-final-score victory over FCS Northern Iowa, and a one-point loss to Central Michigan--all before beginning conference play.
When the conference season began, Iowa continued its close game streak, squeaking by the Spartans in overtime in East Lansing after their bye week--and then, of course, the Nittany Lions came to town.
The Penn State loss seemed a demoralizing one for the Hawkeyes, who seemed supremely confident going into the game but many left it (rightly) sure that their team would fail to become bowl-eligible for only the third time in Kirk Ferentz's tenure in Iowa City (the other two times, understandably, being his first two seasons).
It's long been the mark of Ferentz's teams that defense and special teams would dictate, and the offense would be just good enough to keep the team in it. That strategy failed miserably for the Hawkeyes this year, as they only had one game in which they scored more than thirty points--and only scored more than twenty in five.
Vandenberg, who preseason looked like at the least a competent signal caller but finished outside of the conference's top ten in pass efficiency, seemed to regress--and the fact that I haven't even heard of the Hawkeyes' leading receiver may say something. There was one offensive bright spot this year, though: the emergence of Weisman, who despite beginning the season buried on the depth chart and missing two games (and parts of even more) due to injury, still managed pretty impressive stats. Beware, though; AIRBHG will not easily be sated.
Their defense was solid if not spectactular, led by award-winning DB Micah Hyde, but as mentioned before, it was just not good enough to overcome the blatant offensive ineptitude. Thanks, Greg Davis! On to 2013, for all our sakes.
A Quick Look Ahead
Recruiting: Class of 2013 Rankings - 247Sports: 53 - Rivals: 53 - Scout: 51
Yep, that seems about right. Iowa seems to tend to have rather pedestrian classes, when compared to their on-field equals, but they rarely fail to overachieve in relation to their class rankings. Their 22-man class was chock full of 3-star prospects, including 3 running backs (you guys never learn, do you?) and some offensive linemen who will no doubt be playing on Sundays in six or so years.
Way too early prediction: 6-6 (3-5 in B1G) (I swear I'm not just copying Jared's Indiana post from Wednesday!)
After this past year, anything's gotta be better, I guess. And, knowing Iowa, they'll inevitable overperform when the expectations are incredibly low.
That being said, though, I'm not sure where I could see more than six wins from this squad--not necessarily because of the Hawkeyes, but more because of their competition. For the second year in a row, they start off versus the Huskies, and an FCS opponent, Iowa State and a directional Michigan school round out the out-of-conference slate. I'm expecting a 3-1 record headed into conference play, but 4-0 (or 2-2) is not out of the realm of reasonable possibility.
In conference, they start out at Minnesota, but getting more than two wins looks difficult--the Leaders teams off the Hawkeye slate this year are Illinois, Indiana and Penn State. And before you mention Northwestern, let's remember--the Wildcats are to Iowa what Iowa's been to the Nittany Lions...so, yeah. It's not unreasonable to expect that the Hawkeyes beat the Golden Gophers, then manage to squeak out one or two more wins the entire rest of the season (the only otherwise gimme-win, Purdue, is also an away game for the Hawks).
Next year, though, I at least expect them to go bowling...so that's something, right?
For more information on the Hawkeyes, head to Black Heart Gold Pants.
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