Iowa Football 2011: How Will the Hawkeyes Handle the Home Stretch?

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Iowa Football 2011: How Will the Hawkeyes Handle the Home Stretch?
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

As the air turns cold and snow threatens to sweep across the plains, it sneaks up on us faster than a well-placed Halloween spook—the 2011 football season is more than half over.

With seven games behind them, the Iowa Hawkeyes face just five more before their postseason fate is revealed and they either begin preparations for a bowl game, or close the book on another year and pack it in for the winter.

Many fans (myself included) may have had somewhat different expectations than what has panned out so far this year. Losing to Iowa State is never a fun event for Hawkeye fans and getting beat by a team Iowa has owned over the last 10 years (Penn State) rarely inspires a wealth of enthusiasm.

Still, staging an historic comeback victory over Pitt was thrilling and finally getting past Northwestern was a bonus many didn't expect at the beginning of the year. Plus, finding out that Iowa can run a no-huddle offense with the best of them has added a level of intrigue to the campaign.

The Hawkeyes are 5-2 and just one game away from bowl eligibility. It would be difficult for even the staunchest critic to find much fault with the way things have gone considering the major amount of turnover Iowa suffered.

Having said all of that, there's no doubt that there's still a lot to work out. The defense is far inferior to what we had hoped. The offense has been a real strength of the team, but it was also shut down against Penn State and has had difficulties at times finding the right combinations and rhythms to succeed.

So, now that we know what we're dealing with, what should we expect from the final stretch of the 2011 regular season and what kind of postseason can Iowa look forward to?

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