Iowa line backer Josey Jewell celebrates an interception during the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. Both teams are going into the game undefeated with records of 3-0. The Nittany Lions defeated the Hawkeyes 21-19. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Big Ten schedule brings big questions for Hawkeyes

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Iowa’s loss to Penn State brings up many questions, especially when it comes to the Hawkeyes’ conference outlook.

4-5

As far as the Big Ten season goes, Iowa football is off to a bit of a rocky start – 0-1 after falling to Penn State on Sept. 23.

While the game was close, which is encouraging, the Hawkeyes were unable to pull through.

Iowa will next take on Michigan State on Sept. 30, but with the Hawkeyes being the Spartans’ first Big Ten opponents, there is no clear telling of how the game will go.

In the past, Iowa has fallen to Michigan State, and so far this season, the Spartans have only fallen to Notre Dame. Michigan State could very well put an L on Iowa’s Big Ten record.

In late October, Iowa will be taking on the Minnesota Gophers, who have three wins under their belts already but have yet to face a Big Ten opponent. This makes their season unpredictable, but in the games they’ve played, they’ve scored big over their opponents. If Minnesota keeps it up, Iowa’s record could have another loss.

Iowa will also be facing off against Ohio State and Wisconsin, which reside among the top 25 (The Buckeyes are No. 11, Badgers No. 10). If the overall trends continue, Iowa will have two more losses.

Despite the dreary predictions, the Hawkeyes should have confidence when facing Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue, and Nebraska this season.

Iowa has a strong record of beating these teams, the few losses being close.

The Hawkeyes have already come out relatively strong this season, and if they follow the historical pattern against these four teams, there are sure to be four wins to adorn Iowa’s Big Ten record, making for a final 4-5 Big Ten record for the 2017 season.

— by Taylor McNitt

5-4

I’m not going to spend a lot of time dwelling in the past, but the performance against the Penn State proves this Iowa team is no joke. The Hawkeyes can make some noise this year in the Big Ten.

The Hawkeyes will travel to East Lansing this weekend to face off with Michigan State. The Spartans are 2-1 on the season and coming off a 20-point loss on the road to Notre Dame. Spartan Stadium is no easy place to play, but Iowa should come away with the victory in this one.

The October lineup consists of Illinois at Kinnick, followed by a bye week, at Northwestern, and Minnesota at home. Iowa shouldn’t have an issue defeating the Fighting Illini and the Wildcats, but P.J. Fleck’s program is on the rise and will do anything possible to knock off the Hawkeyes in Iowa City.

RELATED: Baumann: Night-game magic still alive at Kinnick Stadium

I think Iowa will be 3-0 in October.

Now, the Hawkeyes are 4-1 in conference play and 7-1 overall.

November is brutal, and by brutal, I mean an absolute gauntlet.

Ohio State and J.T. Barrett come to town in what should be a top-notch matchup that weekend (ESPN Gameday, maybe?). This game should be as great as advertised, but the Buckeyes should win in Iowa City.

In the following three weeks, the Hawkeyes will play Wisconsin in Madison, home versus Purdue, and Nebraska in Lincoln.

Iowa can go 3-0 in these three games or they could go 0-3. The Badgers will be too much for Iowa, Purdue football isn’t back yet, and I hate to say it, but I don’t have a good feeling about beating the Huskers in Lincoln, despite their early season struggles.

At season’s end, Iowa will be 8-4, losing three games in November and shooting down their chances of competing for a Big Ten title.

— by Sean Bock

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