Breaking Down Iowa's Revised Football Schedule
The Big Ten officially announced its 2020 football schedule on Wednesday after moving to a conference-only slate earlier this offseason.
A breakdown of Iowa's schedule:
Maryland (Sept. 5)
2019 record: 3-9
Overview: After scoring 79 and 63 points in its first two games, Maryland's offense fell apart. The Terrapins averaged just 16.1 points in their final 10 games. The bright side? There's room for improvement. Injuries helped derail Maryland's season, especially at quarterback. Josh Jackson showed he's capable of controlling the offense (see his 296-yard, 3-touchdown performance against Syracuse). It's just a matter of consistency, and that goes for Maryland as a whole. The Terrapin defense wasn't great last season, giving up 59 points to Penn State, 52 to Minnesota, 38 to Michigan, 73 to Ohio State, and 54 to Nebraska.
At Purdue (Sept. 12)
2019 record: 4-8
Overview: Purdue is a wildcard. Last season many tabbed the Boilermakers as a potential dark horse to win the division, but those predictions floundered as injuries riddled the team. How will Jeff Brohm’s healthy squad fare? Keep an eye on Rondale Moore, arguably the best playmaker in the conference, let alone the country, this season. The jury is still out on who will be throwing him the ball this season, as the quarterback job is wide open. Jack Plummer took the majority of snaps last season due to the injury bug.
At Minnesota (Sept. 19)
2019 record: 11-2
Overview: Rashod Bateman opting out of the 2020 season isn't ideal news for the Gophers. He caught 60 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns. Enter Chris Autman-Bell as the new No. 1 target in Minneapolis. But last year, the Gophers had their best success under P.J. Fleck and will be in contention for the West title. Junior quarterback Tanner Morgan is back, and he proved himself to be one of the top arms in the conference, throwing for more than 3,200 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2019. All five starting offensive linemen from last year return, which is a major plus.
Nebraska (Sept. 26)
2019 record: 5-7
Overview: Can Nebraska finally take down Iowa? The Hawkeyes won the last five contests. JD Spielman’s transfer will hurt the offense. A lot of Nebraska’s potential in year three of the Scott Frost experience lies with quarterback Alex Martinez. As a junior, he regressed from a promising freshman season. If the offense can take a leap into consistency (and that starts with Martinez), this team could be worth keeping an eye on.
Northwestern (Oct. 3)
2019 record: 3-9
Overview: After winning the division, the Wildcats went 3-9 last season and could barely muster an offense. Will that change? The Wildcats snagged graduate transfer quarterback Peyton Ramsey from Indiana. He’s a veteran starter who threw for more than 2,200 yards last year while only throwing four interceptions. Running back Isaiah Bowser (who torched Iowa with 165 yards 2018) should be at full health after playing in just five games last season. Additionally, the Wildcats return nine starters on defense.
At Illinois (Oct. 10)
2019 record: 6-7
Overview: Illinois (somehow?) won six games last season, including an upset victory over Wisconsin. But can the Illini repeat said success? Offense could be a question, but the defense looks promising. Senior quarterback Brandon Peters looked sharp last season. The Illini didn’t over-utilize him, but he could look for a bigger role this season.
At Penn State (Oct. 24)
2019 record: 11-2
Overview: Another difficult road test for the Hawkeyes. In his first year as a starter, quarterback Sean Clifford proved he can hang. On the other side of the ball, Penn State’s Micah Parsons is one of the country’s best linebackers. Penn State might be a game or two behind Ohio State for the East crown, but it will be close. It’ll be interesting to see how the offense rolls under new play-caller Kirk Ciarrocca, the former Minnesota offensive coordinator/quarterback coach.
Michigan State (Oct. 31)
2019 record: 7-6
Overview: Michigan State is officially done with the Mark Dantonio era. Instead, new head coach Mel Tucker has control. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do with a new starting quarterback, especially with the absence of spring ball. Brian Lewerke graduated and is in the NFL, so the Spartans will likely turn to Rocky Lombardi at that position. The defense shouldn’t be an issue, as the Spartans have been fairly consistent on that side of the ball.
Wisconsin (Nov. 14)
2019 record: 10-4
Overview: The winner of this matchup typically wins the West, so this is arguably Iowa’s most important game of the year. Star running back Jonathan Taylor graduated and is in the NFL. Taking that into consideration and adding Quintez Cephus’ departure, there are some questions along the offense. Defensively, the Badgers allowed fewer than 17 points a game last season. Don’t expect anything different this year.
At Ohio State (Nov. 21)
2019 record: 13-1
Overview: Saving the best team for last. This is easily the most difficult game on Iowa’s schedule. Most tabbed Ohio State is the top team in the conference this season, and rightfully so. Quarterback Justin Fields is a Heisman Trophy candidate, and there was virtually no dropoff in Ohio State’s first season without Urban Meyer. Ryan Day’s team has the tools to contend for a national championship this season.
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