Iowa football has clear path to Big Ten title game in 2021

Syndication: HawkCentral
Syndication: HawkCentral /

Starting the 2020 season 0-2 with disappointing losses to Purdue and Northwestern, it looked like Iowa football was doomed for mediocrity.

And then something clicked.

The Hawkeyes bounced back with a 49-7 beatdown of Michigan State and then another blowout win over Minnesota the following week. As if that wasn’t enough, the Hawkeyes trounced Penn State by 20 before sneaking by Nebraska and then winning each of their final two games against Illinois and Wisconsin by at least two touchdowns.

Iowa won six straight games to end the 2020 season and opted out of postseason play but entered the offseason as one of the hottest teams in the country.

Yet no one is talking about Iowa.

For some reason or another, the Hawkeyes are flying under the national radar after dominating the final six weeks of the regular season.

That’s going to be a mistake for the rest of the Big Ten.

Iowa football has favorable 2021 slate

Besides bringing back five key starters on offense and seven on defense, Iowa has one of the easiest schedules in the entire Big Ten which should mean a clear path to the conference title game, especially if the Hawkeyes play as well as they did to end 2020.

The Hawkeyes open with Indiana at home which could be a nice season-opening win against a potentially ranked opponent. The atmosphere should give Iowa a huge advantage.

A road game at Iowa State (a possible top-15 opponent) should help prepare the Hawkeyes for the remainder of their schedule. They’ll pick up nice wins over Kent State and Colorado State before traveling to Maryland to kickstart the remainder of their schedule.

Home games against Penn State and Purdue should help build momentum and not having to travel to Happy Valley should be a win. The toughest game on the schedule is at Wisconsin and the Badgers aren’t exactly an elite team like they usually are entering the season. Then a road game at Northwestern will be tough, but Iowa should win that one, too.

Minnesota and Illinois are at home before ending the season with a road rivalry game at Nebraska.

If all goes as planned, Iowa will engineer through conference play with one or two losses, at the very worst. Not getting Ohio State or Michigan will help.

Basically, if Iowa is going to get back to the Big Ten title game, this is the year and this schedule sets that up nicely.

Next. 10 coaches on the hot seat ahead of 2021. dark