With many media sources picking Nebraska to win the Big Ten West, what are the realistic chances that the 2019 Iowa football team can win it?
We have just 5 more Saturday’s until Iowa football returns for the 2019 season and Kirk Ferentz will try to improve off a solid 9-4 season that concluded with an Outback Bowl victory. One could argue that the Hawkeyes should have won more games a year ago but couldn’t get out of their own way in several instances.
A poll was recently released indicating that Nebraska is the heavy favorite to win the Big Ten West this season. And for good reason. Scott Frost will be in year two as the head coach of the Huskers, Adrian Martinez has his first season as quarterback out of the way, and their schedule looks incredibly easy on paper.
They will have to replace Stanley Morgan Jr.‘s production but should be in good hands in terms of their wide receiver corps. The only road game that I could see them slipping up is at Colorado but traveling to Illinois, Minnesota, Purdue, and Maryland shouldn’t be a problem. Besides, a loss at Colorado doesn’t impact their divisional standings.
Northwestern is the reigning Big Ten West champions, and they have a decent shot at repeating but now have the target on their back. Wisconsin is always in contention and will be in every game thanks to All-American junior running Jonathan Taylor. So what are the chances that Iowa can actually win the Big Ten West?
I’d actually say very good considering they return most starters from a top-10 defense a year ago and they have the advantage of a third-year starting quarterback in Nate Stanley. Consistency will be key for Stanley and the Hawkeyes in 2019 who have a much more difficult schedule ahead of them.
With Big Ten West road trips to Northwestern, Wisconsin and Nebraska, it’s easy to overlook the Hawkeyes as favorites for the division. However, they have the players and the coaching staff in place to be successful. It’s just a matter of executing, which was a problem at times in 2018.
Assuming they don’t regress from last season, the Hawkeyes should be right there in contention for the West this season with the season finale in Lincoln potentially determining who goes to Indianapolis.