With a 4-8 record in 2012, Iowa fell short of not-so-lofty expectations.
The Hawkeyes, who had to retool their offense, were capable of winning six or seven games this past fall. But they weren't expected to be world-beaters.
This year probably won't be much different.
Without former starting quarterback James Vandenberg, Iowa is in the grips of a three-way battle between Jake Rudock, Cody Sokol and C.J. Beathard for the starting role.
Production from running backs will largely hinge on how well Mark Weisman recovers from nagging ankle issues. However, even he's dueling for a No. 1 role.
The linebackers, perhaps the team's biggest strength, are headlined by a trio of seniors, Christian Kirksey, Anthony Hitchens and James Morris, who make up one of the top units in the Big Ten.
Since 2001, Kirk Ferentz has had team bowling in the postseason 10 times. Last year broke a four-year bowl run, but a new stretch could be started this fall if talent plays up to par. Variables are constant in college football, and if the Hawkeyes are to soar, Weisman and the linebackers have to assist those efforts.