Going through a bit of a motivation rut recently, mostly due to "YAY I GRADUATED WAIT NOW WHAT," stuff, but I'll try not to let that seep too much into these previews. Definitely not when we reach the two Michigans, as I have a lot of thoughts on them (mostly relating to the words "FUCK ‘EM").
Iowa, however is a school much like Minnesota in that I should hate them more than I do. Partially due to my Iowa family (love ya guys!) and partially due to the excellent BHGP blog here on SBNation. Of course, Iowa has the advantage of actually beating my beloved Badgers in recent memory (including basketball TWICE last year, which is just unacceptable). Mostly, though I have respect for Iowa as a school that isn't always great, but almost always decent. (And Ricky Stanzi, who I think y'all over-rate. SHOTS FIRED)
A Handle on Hawkeye History (Iowa Performance 2005-2011)
Figure 1: Iowa Yearly FBS Rank (2005-2011)
Figure 2: Iowa Yearly Adj Off, Def Rank (2005-2011)
Figure 3: Iowa Yearly Win % and Luck (2005-2011)
As stated above: Iowa isn't always great, but usually decent. And honestly, I can understand how frustrating the ups and downs can be, but Iowa could do a lot worse than their current couple year "meh" cycles interspaced by years of awesome (2002, 2004, 2009). I will say it's interesting that 2008 Iowa was theoretically "better" than 2009 Iowa, just unluckier in the win department. However, considering the weekly CARDIAC ARRESTS 2009 Iowa performances induced, this isn't that surprising.
Obviously, the strength of Iowa year in and year out has been their defense (excepting relative down years in 2006 and 2011). The offense on the other hand has been consistently okay (2007 aside). Iowa partisans would say this is due to Kirk Ferentz's (Ferentz'?) conservative nature, which I would agree with. But hey: Iowa could be doing a lot worse. It's not Ohio State or even Nebraska. I'm interested to see how well Iowa will do with the departure of Norm Parker though, as he's obviously a lot to do with that defensive streak. (Greg Davis will probably impact the offense relatively little, in my opinion)
Tell Me How the Defense Died, Daddy (Iowa 2011 Season)
Lost Insight Bowl vs Oklahoma (14-31)
Seriously, what the heck happened? It wasn't 2010 Michigan levels, but Iowa's 2011 defense was a far cry from their usual standards, while the offense was just slightly worse than 2009-10. And it wasn't due to any out-and-out bad performances; Iowa was fairly consistently about average on defense the whole year.
Reasons for optimism? Some of their best performances came in the last couple weeks of the season. Outside of a 37 pt output from Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue, Nebraska, and Oklahoma were all somewhat neutered by the Hawkeye defense (Oklahoma has the obvious caveat of missing Ryan Broyles, but it's still Oklahoma). According to my numbers, Iowa's best defensive performance came in Week 1 against Tennessee Tech, but no one cares about an FCS school.
Of course, while the defense was consistent (if down for Iowa expectations), the offense was schizophrenic. Good/great performances against Louisiana-Monroe, Northwestern, and Michigan are offset by craptacular performances against Penn State, Minnesota, and Nebraska. (one of these is not like the other...) That's not going to cut it (especially - and it must be said again - AGAINST MINNESOTA). Also: I have no idea what you're talking about with the Minnesota-Wisconsin game in 2007, and I don't see how that's relevant.
With Parker Gone, Will Parker Fix It? (Iowa 2012 Preview and Projections)
NOTE: The numbers below each opponent indicate the projected score differential. Numbers in parentheses are negative (as indicated), other numbers are positive (as indicated)
Avg Opp Rank: 64.2 (Avg Non-Con: 92.7, Avg Conf: 50.0)
Final Record: 8-4 (4-4), Avg MOV: 6.1 pts, Bowl Prediction: Gator Bowl
True story: I thought that the new Defensive Coordinator Phil Parker was related to Norm Parker for the longest time. With the Iowa trend for
misogyny nepotism (EDIT: my bad for vocab) (no problems here, that's how I got my first decent job), it seemed logical. I apologize for my error.
Also, I've previously stated the formula I use for these projections [LINKY], which is based heavily on last years performance. I view last year's Iowa defense as an aberration compared to the larger trend, so don't look too critically at my projections up there.
But first: who does Iowa have coming back? Obviously, James Vandenberg is back, he of the 25 TD, 7 INT, 3022 YDS, 7.5 YPA stat line. Honestly, I'm surprised that Iowa wasn't better on offense with that. What's that? He shat the bed against Penn State, Nebraska, and Oklahoma? [LINKY] (all losses by the by) Okay, well that makes a little more sense. Hopefully, Sir Vandenberg can mature a bit and prevent those kind of performances, because otherwise he played pretty well (Michigan State wasn't a great game, but he gets a pass because
Mark Dantonio employs felons; they were a pretty good defense)
More SHOTS FIRED: Marcus Coker wasn't that good. He wasn't bad by any means (15 TD, 4.94 YPC), but he wasn't in the running for best back in the conference. Sorry Iowa faithful...
The bad news is that he was still probably the best of the Iowa backs remaining, and with Mika'il McCall gone, Jordan Canzeri out with AIRBHG, and Marvin McNutt to the pros (CFBStats said he had a 9.67 YPC, so I'm putting him in here just for giggles and shits), Iowa is lacking many people. Jason White is here, though I find it hard to believe he still has eligibility after his 2004 Heisman campaign. Eh, what do I know. It'll be up to him and De'Andre Johnson (4.39 YPC in 2011).
Honestly though? Unless you're Wisconsin (WOO), I don't think running backs matter that much. Hell even that is the product of our OL more than the running backs (John Clay tripping forward for 5 yards/carry illustrates this). MGoBlog has delved into this [LINKY], but the gist is that football is a passing game now, and as long as you have an okay back, QB is what makes your team. James Vandenberg should be that guy just fine. McNutt is gone for receiving options, but the next 5 top options of last year return, so yeah: Iowa should be just fine if their defense can pick up the pieces.
Best case scenario for Iowa:
Pat Fitzgerald breaks his leg again and loses to Iowa ahem. The non-conference schedule starts out easily enough. Northern Illinois and Iowa State could be tricky, but the Fighting Harnishes are out their namesake, and Steel Jantz still has an awesome name probably won't repeat his 2011 performance. (SIDE NOTE: my roommate is an Iowa State fan, and she was very happy at the 2011 result).
I don't think I can give Iowa the Michigan win at the Big House, but Penn State, Michigan State, and Nebraska are all supposed to be close, Penn State and Nebraska are at home, and Michigan State (a popular pick for the Big Ten West Champions) has a new quarterback who isn't as dreamy as Kirk Cousins (let's be honest: no one is, I'll give him that). Assuming they go 2-1 in those games, that's a 10-2 (6-2) record and a solid bowl.
Worst case scenario for Iowa: I'll still give Iowa the win at home against Northern Illinois (due to Chandler Harnish being gone), but I'll say they lose to Iowa State in a classic rivalry game. Minnesota, Northwestern, and Purdue are the feisty teams left on the schedule that they should beat, but I could honestly see them losing to all of them (with some luck involved). Minnesota and Northwestern have recent success against Iowa, and Purdue is improving (though still at Kinnick). That's a 4-8 (1-7) record, and looking at it... okay, that's too harsh. I say at worst they go 1-2 in that Minn, jNW, P trio for a 5-7 (2-6) record. Still not good, and the first time I would start questioning the KF regime.
Glossary and Explanation of Terms!
For a more in-depth explanation of everything see my primer here. Otherwise, the below should serve as a quick reference.
For the purposes of this section, I will refer to Average State University (ASU). ASU scores 25 pts/game on offense, gives up 25 pts/game on defense, and has an Adj Off, Def of 1.00 and 1.00, respectively.
Adj Off - a measure of a team's scoring offense, adjusted for schedule. A team with an Adj Off of 2.00 would be expected to score 50 pts on ASU. A team with an Adj Off of 0.50 would be expected to score 12-13 pts on ASU.
Adj Def - a measure of a team's scoring defense, adjusted for schedule. A team with an Adj Def of 2.00 would be expected to give up 50 pts to ASU. A team with and Adj Def of 0.50 would be expected to hold ASU to 12-13 pts.
Adj Eff - a measure of a team's overall strength, AdjEff = AdjOff/(AdjOff + AdjDef). A perfect rating would be 1.00, a perfectly bad rating would be 0.00, a perfectly average rating would be 0.50. This rating tends to reward teams with good defenses more than good offenses.
Adj Marg - a measure of a team's overall strength, AdjMarg = AdjOff - AdjDef. A good rating would be > 0.00, a bad rating would be < 0.00, a perfectly average rating would be 0.00. This rating tends to reward teams with good offenses more than good defenses.
(NOTE: While I list both Adj Eff and Adj Marg as measures of overall team strength, the "official" rankings are Adj Marg, as I find it tends (usually) to be a slightly better predictor of game results than Adj Eff.)
Opp Rat - the average rating of a team's opponents, as determined by Adj Marg. A relatively difficult schedule will have OppRat > 0.00, a relatively easy schedule will have OppRat < 0.00, a perfectly average schedule will have OppRat = 0.00.
Luck - the difference between a team's expected winning percentage (based on schedule and expected scores) and their actual winning percentage. Luck > 0.00 indicates that a team won more games than they were expected, Luck < 0.00 means that a team won less games than they were expected.
Projected Scores - these are based on a team's Adj Off, Def and their opponent's Adj Off, Def. I won't bore you with the math or reasoning, but suffice to say that expected scores align uniformly with the Adj Marg rankings. The expected score differential is proportional to the Adj Marg differential.