Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Iowa’s offense should be a lot of fun to watch this season.

A dynamic in Tyler Goodson, Brandon Smith , and Ihmir Smith-Marsette among the big-play receivers out wide, a potential breakout candidate in tight-end Sam LaPorta, and an experienced offensive line give Hawkeye fans reason to believe the team will give Keith Duncan plenty of opportunities to kick extra points in 2020.

But it all comes down to quarterback play.

Spencer Petras enters his first season as Iowa’s top quarterback after the departure of three-year starter Nate Stanley. Petras hasn’t had the opportunities to prepare this offseason that a first-year starter would typically have because of COVID-19.

“[It] dawned on me that this whole thing may favor teams with great genetics or experienced quarterbacks, and we don’t necessarily have either,” Ferentz said Sept. 17. “And really smart coaches.”

“So we’re 0-for-3.”

Ferentz has had high praise for Petras dating back to December, when he said the San Rafael, California, native looked like a quarterback who could start in the Big Ten. But I need to actually see him on the field before my expectations for Iowa get too high.

This team definitely has potential. The offense could be among the conference’s best, the defense is replacing several key pieces, but Chauncey Golston, Djimon Colbert, and Matt Hankins (among others) are still there to lead Phil Parker’s defense. And of course, Duncan has already cemented himself as one of the conference’s best kickers in recent memory.

At this point, despite empty stadiums practically nullifying any home-field advantage, I’d probably pick Iowa to lose back-to-back road contests at Minnesota (Nov. 14) and at Penn State (Nov. 21). The regular-season finale on Dec. 12 against Wisconsin is another game where I’d favor Iowa’s opponent.

These predictions could change, but I think the Hawkeyes come up short against three Big Ten teams that won 10 or more games last season, and all have experienced starting quarterbacks coming back.