After a disappointing end to the Big Ten season in 2010, Iowa will look to get back on track in 2011.
The Hawkeyes have a very favorable schedule that could help them make a run, as they miss Wisconsin, Ohio State and Illinois, all of which could be contenders in the Leaders Division.
However, Iowa still must face some of the top teams in the Big Ten and will have a number of difficult obstacles in trying to win a conference championship.
Check out the Hawkeyes' Big Ten opponents in descending order of difficulty.
The Hoosiers haven't been much of a test to anyone in the Big Ten lately, but they've given the Hawkeyes some scares.
In 2009, they pulled out to a 28-7 lead in Iowa City before Iowa came back and won 42-28. The Hoosiers also led the Hawkeyes going into the fourth quarter in 2010 and would have likely won had Damarlo Belcher caught an easy pass at the end of the game.
Due to these recent tough games, Iowa can't overlook Indiana. However, the Hoosiers are still one of the worst teams in the Big Ten, and the Hawkeyes should be able to come away with a win.
Iowa lost to Minnesota at the end of last season in perhaps the lowest point of a somewhat miserable year.
Iowa was the better team, but neither the offense, nor the defense showed much heart, and it ended up dropping to 7-5.
This year, the Golden Gophers will be breaking in a new coach, and while the Hawkeyes can't take this game for granted, they should be favored to win back the Floyd of Rosedale trophy.
This is probably a lot higher than most people would anticipate, and playing in Happy Valley is never easy, but Iowa should be favored, having owned the Nittany Lions for a good part of the last decade.
Ferentz is 8-2 in his career against Penn State and has beaten some of Joe Paterno's top teams, even if those Iowa teams weren't that impressive.
While Iowa will be young heading into this game, Penn State will also have a very inexperienced team and it still doesn't have a solid answer at quarterback, which Iowa exploited last season.
The Hawkeyes can't take this game for granted, but if history teaches us anything, they should leave State College with a win.
This may be a bit farther down the list than most expect, but Iowa has struggled against the Boilermakers over the past decade and that's especially true in West Lafayette, where the game will be played this year.
Purdue is Iowa's new "protected rival," and while this game will likely never feel like a rivalry, a small rivalry could ignite if these games are as close as they have been in the past.
Again, Iowa should be favored in this game, but it could be a lot closer than most people expect.
Despite playing close games against Michigan the last two years, Iowa has shut down the Wolverines' starting quarterbacks surprisingly well.
The Hawkeyes humbled Tate Forcier in 2009 and shut down Denard Robinson (as much as he can possibly be shut down, that is) in 2010. However, Robinson came in late in the 2009 game and Forcier came in late in the 2010 game, and both had success.
This year, Iowa will have only one quarterback to plan for but must plan for a new-look Michigan team. Having the game at home helps, but Michigan still can never be viewed as a pushover.
I was tempted to put Michigan State at No. 4, as Iowa is typically successful at home against the Spartans. However, MSU should be one of the top teams in the Big Ten in 2011 and should present a challenge.
The Spartans will also be looking for revenge after being drubbed by the Hawkeyes 37-6 in Iowa City in 2010, ruining their perfect season and their chance for a BCS bid.
Since Iowa is at home, it may actually be favored in this game, even if Michigan State is ranked higher, and it should have a decent chance at beating the Spartans for a third straight season.
Northwestern wouldn't be nearly this far down on many teams' lists, but the Wildcats have owned the Hawkeyes as of late, beating better Iowa teams over the last three seasons.
This could be Northwestern's best team over that stretch, as they return quarterback Dan Persa, who almost single-handedly beat Iowa last season.
Like Iowa's own success against Penn State, Northwestern seems to have Iowa's number, and the Hawkeyes need to play their best game in order to finally take the Wildcats down.
After losing its annual rivalry with Wisconsin, Iowa has found a new border rival in Nebraska.
Fans of both teams have hated each other for years, and one will finally have the chance to claim bragging rights in 2011.
Nebraska is favored by many to win the conference in 2010, but it must navigate through a brutal schedule, which includes this game on Black Friday.
Like Iowa's rivalry with Wisconsin, expect this game to be close every year, no matter which team has played better throughout the season.
And as Iowa's most intense rivalry, it should also be the Hawkeyes' toughest game of 2011.