Iowa fans have a few reasons to be optimistic. They should have one of the best, most experienced defensive lines in the Big Ten this year with Matt Kroul and Mitch King anchoring the D-line.
The primary concern for the Hawks as they enter the Big Ten season is the ongoing quarterback controversy. It seems like neither Jake Christensen nor Ricky Stanzi wants to win the job.
Both quarterbacks have had their share of problems this year. Stanzi looked good against an inferior opponent in FIU but then looked lost against Iowa State. Christensen is the more experienced QB, but he has had accuracy issues, over- and under-throwing a lot of open receivers.
Using two quarterbacks off and on throughout the season rarely works out well for teams. It's a lot of pressure to put on a quarterback when they know if they make a bad pass, they might be pulled the next series.
Kirk Ferentz needs to make a decision. Both QBs have their strengths and weaknesses, but Iowa needs some solidity at that position if they expect to make a bowl game.
Shonn Greene has been a pleasant surprise at running back. He has topped the 100-yard mark in each of Iowa's four games this year. After missing last year due to academic issues and reportedly having some weight issues in the offseason, he has come back strong and been the main weapon for the Hawkeyes this year.
Iowa needs Greene to continue his good play because the Hawks only have walk-on Paki O'Meara and freshman Jewel Hampton to back him up.
The offensive line, while more consistent than last year due to inexperience and injuries, still needs some improvement as they gave up six sacks against Pitt.
Overall the Hawks have looked good, but unfortunately, there are no Maines or FIUs in the Big Ten. Michigan St., Wisconsin, Illinois, and Penn St. should be very tough games and will require the Hawks' best efforts to compete.
A few games like Indiana, Purdue, Minnesota, and Northwestern are very winnable games, but the Hawks cannot afford to take anything for granted this year.
If things go right, a bowl is not out of the question for the Hawks, but be prepared for one of the lower tier bowls. I personally pick the hawks to win six or seven games—if things go absolutely right, maybe eight.