There are high expectations heading into the 2019 Iowa football season, but their schedule is not going to make things easy for the Hawkeyes.
After a relatively down season in the Big Ten West in 2018, things are trending upwards in 2019. Nebraska will be better, Wisconsin finally got rid of turnover-prone Alex Hornibrook, and Minnesota returns quality players on both sides of the field. The Big Ten West will not be easy for the Iowa football team.
In other seasons, the Iowa football team’s non-conference schedule has been weaker with two games against small schools followed up with a game against the historically putrid Iowa State Cyclones. That’s no longer the case this year either. Iowa State is a good team, and I am legitimately worried about that game on Iowa’s schedule.
The final segment of the schedule that the Iowa football team has typically benefited it from is easier crossover games with the Big Ten East. Again, this portion of the schedule will not be easy either. Outside of Rutgers, which is almost a guaranteed win, the Hawkeyes have to play Michigan and Penn State, two of the top three teams in the East.
To make matters worse, the Hawkeyes don’t have a favorable home/away schedule with road games against Iowa State in Ames, Michigan in Ann Arbor, Nebraska in Lincoln, and Wisconsin in Madison.
So when Athlon Sports released their top 25 toughest schedules, it makes sense the Iowa football team was on there at 20th overall.
Out of the Big Ten, only Michigan, Ohio State, Northwestern, Purdue, and Maryland have tougher schedules.
The beauty of the tough schedule is if the Iowa football team can survive this gauntlet of a schedule, they will be able to position themselves to potentially be a College Football Playoff sleeper.