Publisher and college football prognosticator Phil Steele says while another 12-0 regular season may be too much to ask for the Iowa Hawkeyes are the favorites in the Big Ten West heading into next season.
Iowa returns six starters on offense and seven on defense from a team that made an unlikely run to the Rose Bowl. The addition of Michigan and Penn State will make the 2016 schedule tougher but Steele says it is still manageable.
“They have five Big Ten road games but they come against teams that had a total Big Ten record last year of 10-30”, said Steele. “That means all the tough games are at home. Iowa has got a schedule where I could see them being favored in every game. I don’t think they are going to repeat 12-0 but I do think they repeat as Big Ten West champ provided they beat Nebraska at the end of the season.”
Complacency should not be an issue and Steele says losses to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship and Stanford in the Rose Bowl will provide motivation for the new season.
“Especially the Michigan State game. They were basically one play away from winning the Big Ten title and being in the playoffs. Generally when I see a team that has a disappointing finish there is always that fire and motivation all off season to not let those types of games happen again. It could turn out to be a positive for them”
Iowa opens the season at home on September third against Miami of Ohio.
Phil Steele’s College Football Preview Magazine will be on the newsstands June 28. Pre-orders are being taken by calling 866-918-7711.