The Iowa Hawkeyes entered the 2010-11 season with perhaps their highest expectations in the last decade.
The Hawks were coming off of a very impressive BCS Orange Bowl victory in the 2009-10 season. Head Coach Kirk Ferentz and his team absolutely shut down the ACC champs, Georgia Teach, 24-14. The Yellow Jackets, who claimed the nation's number one ranked rushing attack, could only muster up a total of 155 yards of offense against the stout Iowa defense.
The Hawkeyes lost six players in the NFL Draft last year: Bryan Bulaga (1st Round), Pat Angerer (2nd Round), Amari Spievey (3rd Round), and Tony Moeaki (3rd Round), Linebacker A.J. Edds and OT Kyle Calloway went later in the draft.
Iowa returned their entire defensive front, which included pre-season All-American, Adrian Clayborn. This front four was considered the best in the nation.
Iowa also returned star middle linebacker, Jeremiah Hunter, and their two ball hawking safeties, Brett Greenwood and Tyler Sash. On the edges Iowa replaced star corner, Amari Spievey, with Micah Hyde. Shaun Prater was returning on the opposite side at corner.
On the offensive side of the ball, there were no worries when it came to the skill positions. Senior quarterback, Ricky Stanzi was returning with a host of talent.The Hawks were returning running back Adam Robinson, who broke out in the 2009-10 season.
Also, in the back field for the first time, in well over a year, was superstar Jewell Hampton, who missed all of the 2009-10 season with a knee injury.
Iowa had their most talented receiving core, under Kirk Ferentz, returning this season. Marvin McNutt and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos are big, physical receivers with big play ability. Koulianos is Iowa's all time leading receiver.
With all the talent returning, the Hawks claimed the 9th spot in the pre-season AP Top 25 polls. Many analysts, including ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit, believed that Iowa was the team to beat in the Big Ten. With legit national title hopes, the Hawks were geared up for the 2010-11 season.
The road to the Big Ten Title, Rose Bowl, and possibly the BCS National Title game was going to have to go right through Iowa City. The Hawks had their most favorable schedule in years—getting to host Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State.
Iowa would roll in their first two games, as they beat Eastern Illinois, 37-7 and instate rival, Iowa State, 35-7. The Hawks then traveled to Tucson, Arizona, to take on a dangerous Arizona Wildcat team.
Former Iowa player and current Arizona head coach, Mike Stoops, had his football team ready for this one. Iowa got off to a horrid start and placed themselves in a deep hole early. Iowa rallied late to tie the game, but would give up a late scoring drive to Arizona to take defeat.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Hawks. This would just be one of many that Iowa fans would have to endure this season.
Iowa would come back home and roll over Ball State, 45-0, and Penn State, 24-3.
Ferentz and the Hawks would then travel to the Big House to take on a pesky Michigan team, led by Heisman hopeful Denard Robinson. Iowa went on to take the game, 38-28.
Iowa would stumble the following week, as they allowed another last minute drive that gave Wisconsin the one point victory and shattered Iowa's National Title hopes.
The Hawks bounced back in a big way, as they derailed undefeated Michigan State, 37-6, in Kinnick Stadium.
The Hawks would then escape Bloomington, Indiana with a 18-13 victory.
In Iowa's last two games, the Hawks have surrendered last minute scoring drives to both Northwestern and Ohio State, continuing to break their fans' hearts.
This football team has a total of 26 very valuable seniors, including: DE Adrian Clayborn, DT Karl Klug, LB Jeremiah Hunter, SS Brett Greenwood, QB Ricky Stanzi, WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, and P Ryan Donahue.
The Hawks are now ranked #24 in the BCS Standing and they will travel to Minnesota this Saturday for the final game in the 2010-11 regular season.