Grant Hall, Sports Reporter

The Hawkeye football team has all the tools to follow up last year’s 10-win season with another successful season despite losing some key players.

The Tylers (Linderbaum and Goodson) are gone, preparing for their rookie year in the NFL, as are Matt Hankins, Zach VanValkenburg, Jack Koerner, and Dane Belton. Receiver Tyrone Tracy and return specialist Charlie Jones both transferred to Purdue.

However, the Hawkeyes return a huge number of significant contributors. Fifteen starters are back for another year in Iowa City.

Much like last season, Iowa’s success will be determined by quarterback play. Incumbent Spencer Petras was average at best last season, passing for 1,880 yards with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

The good news for Hawkeye fans is that Petras has shown promise during offseason workouts at the Manning Passing Academy, and he’ll have many of his favorite targets back this season in Keagan Johnson, Nico Ragaini, Arland Bruce IV, and tight end Sam LaPorta. If Petras improves upon last season’s showing, Iowa could have a run at the conference title once again.

Despite the handful of departures previously listed, Iowa still boasts arguably the best defense in the conference.

The defensive line rotation is stacked with a plethora of options. The linebacker corps boasts three starters on the Butkus Award watch list, and the defensive backfield returns six players who earned significant minutes a year ago.

Iowa’s schedule is no cakewalk. The Hawkeyes will likely lose to Ohio State in the Horseshoe on Oct. 22, and could very well drop a game to Michigan at home on Oct. 1.

Rivalry games against Wisconsin and Purdue (though not an official rivalry it should become one) could realistically end in losses as well. I think Petras will improve enough to lead the Hawkeyes to a win over the Boilermakers.

I think Iowa will finish 10-2 in the regular season with losses to Ohio State and Wisconsin.

Wins over Michigan, Purdue, Nebraska, and Minnesota, will lead to a berth in the Big Ten title game. The Hawkeyes will be overmatched by Ohio State and still reach a solid bowl game.

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