Big Ten Football: An Early Schedule Review—Iowa Hawkeyes

Kristofer GreenSenior Writer IApril 13, 2009

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 01:  Ricky Stanzi #12 of the Iowa Hawkeyes drops back to pass against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the Outback Bowl on January 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
The 2008 season started amid a flurry of off-the-field issues for Kirk Ferentz.  At least 14 Iowa players were either arrested or charged with breaking some law between April 2007 and April 2008.
Ferentz dismissed five players from the team, including starting receiver James Cleveland for reasons ranging from domestic assault to drug charges.
Still, through all those distractions, the Iowa Hawkeyes started the season with three impressive victories over not so impressive teams.
After a quarterback controversy and three close losses, the Hawkeyes suddenly found their groove.  Shonn Greene emerged as an unstoppable force and led his team to an upset victory over No. 3 Penn State.
The Hawkeyes finished the season with a shellacking of South Carolina in the Outback Bowl for the Big Ten's only bowl victory.
Coming into the spring, spirits were high.  This team looked to be a contender for the Big Ten title and momentum seemed to be on their side. 
Then, three more football players were arrested for DUI, among other things.  To make matters worse for Ferentz, one of those players was his own son.
Ferentz has said he won't decide the fate of these players until after spring practice closes, but the team must move on now. 
The quest for a Big Ten title is a realistic goal for the Hawkeyes.  Get rid of the riff-raff and get back to football.

Sept. 5   Northern Iowa

The Hawkeyes don't really test themselves out of the gate, but Ferentz may need this game to get some game-time experience for new players on both sides of the ball.

The competition level escalates each week, so it will be important for the Hawkeyes to get off to a fast start.


Sept. 12   at Iowa State

The annual rivalry will be the first meeting between Ferentz and new Cyclone coach Paul Rhodes.  Rhodes may get things turned around for the ISU football program, but the Hawkeyes should go home with the Cy-Hawk Trophy.


Sept. 19   Arizona

In a classic Big Ten-Pac 10 match-up, the Hawkeyes will play host to Arizona in an important non-conference game. 

A win would give the Hawkeyes some much needed momentum and confidence heading into the Big Ten opener.  A loss would be be a painful blow before a rematch with an angry Penn State team hungry for revenge.


Sept. 26   at Penn State

A rematch of last season's thriller in Iowa City.  In what will likely be a night game in Happy Valley the Hawkeyes face their biggest game of the young season.

Ricky Stanzi has got to be the leader of the Iowa offense and this game his leadership skills will be put to the test. 

Having started in this game last season should give him some much needed confidence, but how he performs will be vital to the Hawkeye's success.


Oct. 3   Arkansas State

A welcome break after a difficult couple of weeks.  The Hawkeyes should handle the Red Wolves with relative ease.


Oct. 10   Michigan

The Hawkeyes missed the opportunity to face the Wolverines in Rich Rodriguez's inaugural season.  Too bad.  This Wolverines team should be much improved and at the halfway point in the season, Rodriguez's offense could be clicking.


Oct. 17   at Wisconsin

Camp Randall is never an easy place to play and if the Badgers can lock down a solid starter at quarterback they could be in the hunt for the Big Ten title. 


Oct. 24   at Michigan State

Mark Dantonio has the Spartans believing again and though they lost a ton on the offensive side of the ball, the cupboard isn't bare.  In fact this MSU offense could be better.


Oct. 31   Indiana

There are no gimmes in conference play, but if there were this game certainly would be one.

The Hoosiers could show some improvement from last season's pitiful squad, but it won't be enough to be competitive with the rest of the league.


Nov. 7   Northwestern

Pat Fitzgerald has done an excellent job in his first few seasons as the head Wildcat, but this will be his first team that has to replace so many key positions. 

Fitz has done a fine job recruiting and does have some experience returning at quarterback.

The Wildcats may take a small step back, but this game will not be easy.


Nov. 14   at Ohio State

The Hawkeyes travel to Columbus, a place that hasn't been so kind to the Hawkeyes, for the first time in four years. 

The Buckeyes will start the season young at several key positions, but by this point in the season Jim Tressel teams have typically shown dramatic improvement.


Nov. 21   Minnesota

The Gophers should come into this game with a chip on their shoulder after last season's 55-0 shellacking by the Hawkeyes in Minnesota's final game in the Metrodome.


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