Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

Grant said Iowa will miss out on a bowl game this year if ‘“everything goes wrong” for the Hawkeyes over their final eight regular season games.

Well, first, I can tell you two teams that everything has gone wrong for so far this year, and they’re both on the Hawkeyes’ upcoming schedule: Nebraska and Northwestern.

Remember way back in Week 0 when the Wildcats beat the Cornhuskers in a thrilling 31-28 nail-bitter in Dublin, Ireland? Yeah, me too.

We thought that Nebraska was going to be the same old lose-heartbreaking-one-score-games team Iowa fans have come to know and love, and we thought Northwestern was on its way to contending for a Big Ten West crown after the ‘Cats offense looked leaps and bounds better than it had in 2021.

But both Nebraska and Northwestern have fallen hard. The Huskers fired head coach Scott Frost after a stunning home loss to Georgia Southern and then took a 49-14 defeat against Oklahoma with interim head coach Mickey Joseph at the helm. From the outside, it looks like Lincoln is in shambles heading into Big Ten play.

Northwestern’s situation seems even worse. With three straight losses to Duke and mid-major foes Southern Illinois and Miami of Ohio, the Wildcats are 1-3 on the season. I didn’t even know Southern Illinois had a football team.

All that to say you can confidently put Ws by Iowa’s logo on Oct. 29, when Northwestern comes to town for Homecoming, and Nov. 25 when the Hawkeyes face the Huskers at Kinnick on Black Friday.

Those victories put Iowa at a minimum of 5-7 and I think, behind the prowess of their defense and special teams, along with what looks like an improving running game, the Hawkeyes will earn one or two more wins.

Don’t get me wrong, to get to 10 victories, as the Hawkeyes did a year ago, the passing game needs to improve considerably, and that’s not going to happen.

But Phil Parker’s defense is No. 1 in the nation, Tory Taylor is the best punter on the planet, and there was some open space for Iowa’s backs last week against Rutgers, who held the country’s best rushing defense before the Week 4 matchup. 7-5, book it.