The Hawkeyes were one of the top teams in the nation last season and look to build upon that success in 2016. Let’s review their team as well as their NCAA football odds for this upcoming year.
Disappointing Ending to a Successful Season
The Hawkeyes rolled to an impressive 12-0 record after an enormous victory over Nebraska to clinch the Big Ten West title. Entering their showdown with Big Ten East champ Michigan State for the conference championship the following week, Iowa fans had visions of a ticket to the College Football Playoff (CFP) being punched with a victory at Lucas Oil Stadium. Those dreams were dashed by Michigan State's Connor Cook who engineered a 22-play drive that culminated with a one-yard lunge into the endzone by freshman L.J. Scott. That touchdown, with 27 seconds remaining, propelled the Spartans to a 16-13 victory and punched their own ticket into the College Football Playoff.
The Rose Bowl would be Iowa's consolation prize and by the time they took the field as six-point NCAA football odds underdogs to Stanford, the team was understandably dejected as the soul-crushing loss three weeks prior proved too much to overcome and were thus drilled 45-16 by the Cardinal on New Year's Day. After a spectacular run, the Hawkeyes sustained their only losses when it counted most.
Experience in 2016
If you included the Hawkeyes in your college football picks last season their record against the spread was not nearly as impressive as their record overall. Iowa went 7-6-1 against the number and tumbled from the No. 4 team in the nation after their win over Nebraska to the No. 9 ranked team when the dust settled after their loss to Stanford.
This season will see the return of quarterback C.J. Beathard, a game manager more than a game changer, and an offensive line of pit bulls with the notable departure of center Austin Blythe, who exited his college career as a seventh-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts. The tandem of LeShun Daniels and Akrum Wadley will be responsible for continuing the team's chief offensive strength as a ground-and-pound battering ram against opposing defenses. Last season Iowa averaged 182 yards rushing and will need to maintain or even improve that pace if they are to successfully defend their Big Ten West crown.
Defense was an integral part of Iowa's success last season and will be again as Thorpe Award winner Desmond King returns at corner while his counterpart on the other corner, Greg Mabin, is a welcome complement. Though cornerback and role player Maurice Fleming transferred out of Iowa the team did a get a substantial boost when Chevin Calloway, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound cornerback from Bishop Dunne High School in Dallas, recently committed to Iowa and could be an impact player from the get-go. Miles Taylor will return as the starting strong safety while Josey Jewell heads a solid linebacking corps that will bolster the defensive line's run-stop capabilities.
What are the Odds?
As we peruse the college football odds for the 2016 campaign we see that the Iowa Hawkeyes are +900 to win the Big Ten and +6600 at BetOnline to win the National Championship. The emergence of C.J. Beathard opening up the passing game will be a pivotal reason why the Hawkeyes succeed but if Iowa holds steadfast to their bulldozing rushing game it will win games against the weak sisters but that one-dimensional approach will not fool teams like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Nebraska, all scheduled foes this season.
Iowa will be a bruising team to compete against defensively again this season but if they continue to lack even a serviceable air attack then a Big Ten title is highly unlikely. The season really turns on whether or not C.J. Beathard will be able to consistently launch an air attack and reports are that he is up to the task. If the Hawkeyes are viable at +900 to claim the conference championship then they could be one of the four exclusive entrants into the CFP. At +6600 it's worth a shot.
Free NCAAF Pick: Iowa +900 to win Big Ten title
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline