Wine: Hmmm. 9-3? Sure. Why Not?

Aug. 26, 2007

Iowa Football Camp Central
24 Hawkeyes to Watch
The Big Ten Network: Nuts and Bolts




Sports Illustrated has taken all the suspense out of the 2007 football season for Iowa fans. In its recent college football issue, America’s leading sports magazine tells us:

The Hawkeyes will finish the regular season with a 9-3 record and be invited to the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, where it will meet Miami. Although SI does not say, we presume this is the Miami of Florida, not Ohio. The game is Dec. 28. Order your tickets today.

SI does not predict the winner of the Champs Sports Bowl game, however. We can only expect a magazine – even a very good one — to stick its neck out so far.

It does, however, put Iowa in a fourth-place tie in the Big Ten, with a 5-3 record. That means the Hawkeyes will sweep their four non-conference foes (ho-hum) and suffer all of their losses against Big Ten opponents.

Two of those defeats will surely be to Wisconsin and Penn State. Both are in SI’s Top 15 nationally, and Iowa plays both on the road. We assume the third loss will be at Purdue, which SI says will share fourth place with Iowa.

The magazine features photos of five “players to watch” in the Big Ten. One is Iowa defensive end Bryan Mattison.

And just to cover a possible underestimation of the Hawkeyes, SI lists them as the Big Ten’s “sleeper,” noting they do not have Michigan and Ohio State on the schedule. Were you aware of that? I’ll mention it to Kirk Ferentz.

I’ll take a 9-3 record, a first-division Big Ten finish, and a bowl game in Florida. I also like the suggestion that Iowa is the Big Ten’s “sleeper.” And are Michigan and Ohio State really off the schedule?

What should we make of all these predictions from a leading national magazine? Not much. They may be interesting and generate readership, but they are meaningless. Sports Illustrated, like many publications, makes notoriously bad predictions.

Still, let’s hope they have substance. I’ll take a 9-3 record, a first-division Big Ten finish, and a bowl game in Florida. I also like the suggestion that Iowa is the Big Ten’s “sleeper.” And are Michigan and Ohio State really off the schedule?

After looking over the most recent depth chart provided by Iowa’s coaching staff, I am not as optimistic about this team as is Sports Illustrated.

The Hawkeyes open their season with only five returning starters on offense, one less than expected because of the legal problems of Dominique Douglas. He has been suspended indefinitely, and it’s impossible to minimize the loss of an outstanding wide receiver capable of making big plays.

Of the 24 position players listed on the offensive depth chart (kickers not included), only three are seniors, and only two – tailback Albert Young and fullback Tom Busch – are starters. Fifteen are freshmen and sophomores, and two of the freshmen are in their first year, tackle Bryan Bulaga and wide receiver Colin Sanderman.

The offensive line has three starters who have never earned a letter – sophomores Kyle Calloway and Andy Kuempel and redshirt freshman Julian Vandervelde.

The defense has more experience with eight returning starters, but 11 players on the 25-man depth chart are freshmen and sophomores. Three defensive backs are first-year freshmen – Jordan Bernstine, Cedric Everson and Diauntae Morrow.

Both kickers are also new. Freshman Ryan Donahue will do the punting and sophomore Austin Signor the placements.

It’s possible that Iowa has had two exceptional recruiting years. It’s also possible that Coach Ferentz and his staff want to shake up a team going into a season with a five-game losing streak.

Either way, it’s hard to get a handle on this Hawkeye team. As mentioned earlier, I’ll take 9-3 and a bowl game in Florida.




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