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This may come as one of the bigger surprises on the list, but don't count out the Iowa Hawkeyes in 2011. With the controversy and penalties assessed to the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2011, the Big Ten is still up for grabs.
The Hawkeyes enter the year with a new man behind center in Junior QB James Vandenberg.
Vandenberg gave Hawkeye fans a preview of what to expect when in 2009 he was forced into action against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten championship game and a possible spot in the National Title game.
The Hawkeyes lost the game 27-24 in overtime, but not before Vandenberg put up 233 yards through the air and 2 touchdown passes, he also threw 3 interceptions, but not a terrible first game for a freshman quarterback.
The home-state hero owns 12 Iowa highschool football records, and is a threat through both the air and on the ground. Vandenberg could be one of the bigger surprises on the field this year.
The Hawkeyes will also have a new running back this season in Marcus Coker. Coker is coming off a huge game against Mizzou in the 2010 Insight Bowl where he put up 219 yards rushing with 2 TDs in a 27-24 victory. With the return of 3 members of the starting offensive line from a year ago, Coker is poised for many big games in 2011.
The only problem for Iowa will be their defense. In 2010, the Hawkeyes ranked in the top 5 in the Big Ten, but they only have four returnees for the 2011 campaign. If the newbees don't step up, this poises big issues.
One last benefit for the Hawkeyes this season is they do not have to play Ohio State or Wisconsin, the two big guns in the Big Ten, if their offense can put up points, look out for the Hawkeyes in 2011.