One of the first football magazines to hit the newsstands does not expect another Big Ten title run for the Iowa Hawkeyes this Fall. Phil Steele’s College Football Preview predicts a second division finish for the Hawks. The publisher says while the defense looks solid it will be difficult to replace five of the six starters from an offensive line considered by many to be the best in the country in 2002.Steele says another factor working against the Hawkeyes is the schedule. They pick up Ohio State and Illinois but lose Northwestern and Indiana, he says that takes away two of the weakest teams and adds two stronger teams. Steele’s magazine was the only one a year ago that included Iowa in its pre-season top 40. He says he’s been high on Iowa the last few years, but this year ranks them eighth in the Big Ten.Steele expects Iowa State to rebound from a 1-6 finish to last season in which they finished 7-7 after a loss to Boise State in the Humanitarian Bowl. Helping the Cyclones cause is a defense that feels will be the best Dan McCarney has had.Steele expects the Cyclones to reclaim their history of a solid ground game and predicts redshirt freshman Stevie Hicks will top the one thousand yard mark. The Cyclones face another brutal Big-12 schedule but Steele says the Cyclone bowl hopes could hinge on the September 27th game at Northern Illinois. He says he rates the game as a toss up.
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