Ranking 13th out of 14 teams in the Big Ten in total offense didn’t stop the Iowa Hawkeyes from reaching the conference title game. However, the 42-3 loss to Michigan showed how much of a gap there was in the Hawkeyes’ quest to win the conference championship.
Quarterback Spencer Petras and tight end Sam LaPorta are among the top returnees on offense as the Hawkeyes look to improve on that side of the ball.
Many of the key contributors on one of the conference’s best defenses return. The hope for Iowa, though, is that the offense will be improved enough not to have everything resting on the shoulders of the defense.
Iowa (+450) trails Wisconsin and Nebraska in the odds to repeat as Big Ten West Division champions according to the college football picks. The Hawkeyes (+2200) come in sixth in the Big Ten championship odds.
The college football odds list Iowa at +20000 to win the national title.
- 2021 record: 10-4
- 2021 conference record: 7-2
- Head coach: Kirk Ferentz
- Odds to win conference title: +1600
Petras is back for his third season as Iowa’s starting quarterback. He completed more than 60 percent of his passes and threw for 1,138 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions during a 6-0 start for the Hawkeyes. He missed two games and in the last six games he played, Petras had one TD and seven interceptions, so that will need to be addressed moving forward.
Don’t rule out the possibility of Alex Padilla pushing Petras for the starting job. However, completing 49 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions doesn’t exactly scream for a quarterback controversy.
Tight end Sam LaPorta returns after leading the Hawkeyes with 53 catches and 670 receiving yards. Receivers Keagan Johnson and Nico Ragaini are back after combining for 44 receptions.
Center Tyler Linderbaum was a first-round draft pick and he leaves big shoes to fill in the interior of the line. The Hawkeyes do return starting linemen Connor Colby, Jack Plumb and Mason Richman.
Linebackers Jack Campbell and Seth Benson are back after combining for 248 tackles a season ago. Joe Evans and Lukas Van Ness tied for the team lead with seven sacks and will look to hit the double-digit mark in 2022. Cornerback Riley Moss is getting plenty of accolades during the preseason.
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Jestin Jacobs, Logan Lee and Jermari Harris could see larger roles after solid sophomore seasons while Van Ness, Yahya Black and Deontae Craig are back after combining for 65 tackles as freshmen. Dane Belton, who led the Hawkeyes with five interceptions, is now with the New York Giants.
Iowa lost leading rusher Tyler Goodson. Gavin Williams rushed for 220 yards over the last four games a season ago, including 98 in a bowl loss to Kentucky, so he could see a more significant role. Unlike many of the teams in the Big Ten, Iowa was pretty quiet when it came to losing and adding transfers.
Former Lafayette tight end Steven Stilianos could emerge into another pass-catching option. Charlie Jones and Tyrone Tracy both transferred to Purdue after combining for 36 catches last season. Receivers Desmond Hutson and Quavon Matthews have also moved on while tight end Josiah Miamen is now at Florida International.
Iowa will need to replace kicker Caleb Shudak who was 24 of 28 on field goals and also had 44 touchbacks. Tory Taylor does return after averaging 46.1 per punt in 2021.
2022 Iowa Outlook
Iowa went 6-0 in games decided by 10 points or less during the regular season as the Hawkeyes finished a game ahead of Minnesota, Purdue and Wisconsin to win the West Division title in the Big Ten. Will the Hawkeyes be able to win all those close games once again?
Iowa got off to a 6-0 start in 2021, and with the season starting with games against South Dakota State, Iowa State, Nevada and Rutgers, the Hawkeyes could be 4-0 when Michigan comes to Iowa City on Oct. 1.
The college football predictions aren’t expecting another division crown for the Hawkeyes, with the regular-season expected win total set at 7½.
The regular season ends with games against division rivals Purdue, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nebraska, so barring unexpected losses earlier in the season, the goal of returning to the Big Ten title game should still be within reach in November. The bye weeks seem to be perfectly placed with one coming after the Michigan game and the other one the week before the Hawkeyes travel to meet Big Ten preseason favorite Ohio State.
2022 Iowa Schedule
- Sept. 3 vs South Dakota State
- Sept. 10 vs Iowa State
- Sept. 17 vs Nevada
- Sept. 24 at Rutgers
- Oct. 1 vs Michigan
- Oct. 8 at Illinois
- Oct. 22 at Ohio State
- Oct. 29 vs Northwestern
- Nov. 5 at Purdue
- Nov. 12 vs Wisconsin
- Nov. 19 at Minnesota
- Nov. 25 vs Nebraska