The predictions continue heading into the season
In 2015 the Iowa Hawkeyes were arguably the most surprising team in the nation. They made it all the way to the Rose Bowl after going 12-0 in the regular season and nearly pulling out a win over Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game. Although, this year will be different. While Iowa will still shock everyone if they went undefeated, another prime bowl game is expected from the Hawkeyes.
Many believe that an 11-1 season for Iowa is possible, while going any worse than 9-3 would be a huge disappointment. Iowa does have a shot at making a second consecutive Rose Bowl if either Michigan, Michigan State or Ohio State make the College Football Playoff. Although, that’s assuming that Iowa wins the Big Ten West.
CBS Sports doesn’t think Iowa will be as lucky this year, though. While they didn’t project records, CBS Sports does predict that the Hawkeyes will land in the Cotton Bowl against Houston. With no games on New Year Day this year, the Cotton Bowl is one of four prime bowl games on January 2, the equivalent of a New Years Day game. While it doesn’t have the same ring and significance to the Rose Bowl for a Big Ten team, getting an at-large invite to the Cotton Bowl would be nothing to be ashamed of.
Houston would be a very tough matchup for the Hawkeyes. The Cougars went an incredible 11-1 last season, their only loss being to UCONN. Not to mention that quarterback Greg Ward Jr. and Houston proved their ranking by finishing the regular season with three wins against top-25 teams in four weeks.
Houston also easily took care of #9 Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl – winning 38-24. The Cougars want to join the Big 12, although will stay in the American Athletic Conference for at least a couple of more seasons.
The Cotton Bowl would feature two of the most versatile quarterbacks in the nation if this prediction ended up being true. Ward was the team’s leading passer (2,828 yards) and rusher (1,1108 yards) last season. His 38 total touchdowns last season was one of the best in the nation, and he’s seen as an outside contender to the Heisman Trophy.
Iowa is predicted to be playing in Arlington, Texas on January 2 because Ohio State is predicted to get the Rose Bowl bid, with Michigan playing Ole Miss in the Outback Bowl. With all three powerhouses out East playing each other this season, it’s not unrealistic to think that all three could end up with a couple of losses this season. That would potentially leave the door open for other conferences to make the Playoff.
In fact, CBS Sports has Oklahoma receiving the top seed. That’s very possible as Oklahoma takes on Houston and Ohio State in their non-conference schedule, giving them enough firepower to take a loss and still be perceived as the top team in the nation. They’re predicted to take on #4 Notre Dame.
On the other side, CBS Sports thinks it will be a rematch of last year’s national championship between Clemson and Alabama. The top three teams are the popular picks to make it back to the College Football Playoff, although Notre Dame was a bit of a surprise.
The faith in Iowa Hawkeyes football this season is real. This is a realistic prediction if a Big Ten team fails to make the Playoff. With that being said, Iowa still has a shot at going to the Rose Bowl for a second straight season, or possibly even making the Playoff.