Since the end of last season, it has been evident that this season's Big Ten won't have many surprises.
The top of the conference consists of five teams; the bottom consists of three teams, and the other four teams will fall somewhere in the middle—better than the bottom teams, but not as good as the top of the conference.
Iowa falls into that middle category, and it will play three of the teams in the top category.
It will also face Iowa State, two MAC foes and FCS school Northern Iowa.
The following slides will document how challenging each of the Hawks opponents are, starting with the easiest and ending with the toughest matchups.
The degree of ease or toughness is not based strictly on which team is best. Rather, it takes into consideration which opponents are best, where the game is played, how Iowa matches up against said team and what sort of emotional elements are brought into the stadium on both teams' parts.
Thus, the "hardest" team is not necessarily the "best" opponent, and the "easiest" team is not necessarily the worst.