The first USA Today/Coaches Poll of the 2010 season has been released, and Iowa opens the season as the No. 10 rated football team in the country.
Some fans think the ranking is low, based on the amount of starters Iowa has returning to the field this season. Other fans would rather go into the season the underdog, and cringe at the high ranking.
The sentiment heading into this season is similar to past years. Head coach Kirk Ferentz said it’s up to the players to follow through on what’s expected of them, and reminded that expectations this early in the season don’t mean much.
"Expectations have nothing to do with how the season is going to turn out,” Ferentz explained at the media day press conference. “The things that we have to do, that's really going to be the most important thing, and then all of that being said, we don't know what's going to happen out here or on the road in those 12 ballgames."
Looking at the schedule, it’s clear why Ferentz preaches caution.
Iowa’s schedule includes three preseason top 25 teams: No. 2 Ohio State, No. 12 Wisconsin, and No. 14 Penn State. Another opponent, Arizona, just missed the top 25, and ranks No. 29.
The Hawkeyes face off against the Nittany Lions for Iowa's homecoming game on October 2. Three weeks later, the Badgers come to Iowa City on October 23. Then, in a a rematch of the impromptu 2009 Big Ten title game, the Buckeyes will try their luck at Kinnick Stadium.
The home schedule might be tough, but it helped ticket sales tremendously.
“We’ve got a terrific home schedule, the best fans in college football and a team that most experts are picking to do very well,” said Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta. “The fact that we’re sold out on a season ticket basis is very gratifying.”
Iowa has sold every ticket to every home game prior to the start of the season. Over 59,000 season tickets will be mailed out to fans, an increase of about 11 thousand season tickets last season.
The increased expectations don't scare Iowa's leading receiver one bit.
"The expectations are the result of winning and having recent success," Derrell Johnson-Koulianos told press at media day. "With that, comes a target on our back. I'll wear that target every day. Give it to me every time. I'll take it."