At the beginning of the 2021 NCAA FB season, the preseason polls had the Iowa Hawkeyes ranked around #18. That projection came after Iowa finished the COVID-shortened 2020 season with a record of 6-2. The 2020 end of season poll listed them at #16.

Heading into this season, it was clear the Hawkeyes would be riding on the wings of a very good offensive team. Led by QB Spencer Petras, the Iowa offense also features RB Tyler Goodson, and center Tyler Linderbaum. Experts were a little less enthusiastic about the defense. So far, this has not been the case.


Route To The Top

After a facile 34-6 victory over the Indiana Hoosiers to open the season, the Hawkeyes headed cross-state to Ames. They were underdogs in a showdown with in-state rival and then #5 ranked Iowa State Cyclones. As it turned out, they ran out 27-17 winners. Many expressed surprise at how easily the Hawkeyes dispensed of the Cyclones in that game.

Interestingly, the offense had sputtered, gaining only 174 yards from scrimmage. It was the defense that provided a boost, holding a powerful Cyclones offense to just over 330 yards. Turnovers made the big difference in this game.

After this win, Iowa rose dramatically in the polls to #7 while the Cyclones fell out of the top 10. They followed up with a couple of sluggish victories at home against Kent State 30-7 and Colorado State 24-14. At this point, the Hawkeyes headed back out on the road.


Real Tests

A visit to what was thought to be a very good Maryland Terrapins team should have been a real test. However, the Terrapins were no match for an Iowa team that steamrolled them by a score of 51-14. Interestingly, this was also the first time all season that the offense showed real punch with a total of 428 yards.

The victory over Maryland shot the Hawkeyes to #4 in the AP Poll ahead of the team’s showdown with then #3 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions. Statistically, there wasn’t much expected from either offense as both teams had been struggling to move the ball all season. The team that was going to win was likely the team that won the battle in the trenches.

That ended up being Iowa, who rallied from behind and squeaked by with a 23-20 victory. They scored the winning touchdown with 6:42 remaining on the clock. The defense was able to slam the door shut on the Penn State offense for the entire 2nd half.


#2 In The Nation

The victory over Penn State plus an upset loss by then #1 Alabama to the Texas A&M Aggies opened to door to the Hawkeyes claiming the #2 spot in the polls. And it would seem the Hawkeyes control their own fate. Every team remaining on the schedule has already lost at least two games. Only two of their scheduled opponents have a winning record. This just happens to be one of those years when Iowa avoids the conference juggernauts like Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State.

Should they run the table and end the season with a record of 12-0, they would inevitably gain a high seed in the BCS playoffs. Still, their strength of schedule means questions remain about where exactly they will end up seeded even if they are ranked #2 in the nation. On the other hand, there’s also a reasonable chance they could end up #1 by season’s end. All it would take is for Georgia to fall to the #11 Kentucky Wildcats or the #20 Florida Gators on the road.

Iowa’s seeding will be at the mercy of the Power Rankings. With what is looking like a weak schedule, it’s very possible teams like Ohio State, Alabama, or even Cincinnati will pass them. These are all teams will play more difficult schedules. The picture will become clearer in a couple of weeks when the power rankings get released.


Iowa Sportsbooks Delight

With legal online sports betting in Iowa now in full swing, the excitement for bettors across the Hawkeye State is huge. The legal sportsbooks serving Iowa are equally thrilled. The success of local teams means an increase in the betting volume placed on those teams. While there are some minor restrictions on prop bets and in-play betting in the law in Iowa, it permits most usual types of bets.

And now that Iowa residents are able to bet on their local college teams they are taking full advantage. Betting handle across the country is expected to break new ground throughout October, November and December. The unexpected success of Hawkeye football means that Iowa will almost certainly be part of the wider betting growth trend.

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