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Point/counterpoint: Will the Hawkeyes go to a bowl game?

BY DI STAFF | APRIL 17, 2012 6:30 AM

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Yes

The Iowa Hawkeyes have gone to a bowl game 10 times in the last 11 seasons, and this season will be no different. A team has to have a pretty bad season to not receive one of the Big Ten's many bowl bids. This year's Hawkeyes aren't bad enough not to make it to a bowl game.

Since 2003, the least number of wins a Big Ten team has had and still gone to a bowl game has been six. So Iowa can sneak in with only six wins if everything works out right. And with this year's schedule, everything might go the Hawkeyes' way.

Iowa plays six teams that were 7-6 or worse last season. Because those games are against average or worse teams, Iowa should be able to win most of them. The Hawkeyes also play two smaller schools, Northern Illinois and Northern Iowa, that both went 11-3 last season. These two teams had strong records but played fewer quality teams from weaker conferences, so Iowa wins should be possible.

If the Hawkeyes lose one of the games against those 11-3 teams and happen to lose one of the games against the average squads — which is something that is quite possible and maybe even likely — they'll have six wins. If Iowa upsets just one of the more elite programs it faces this year, it'll have seven wins, which will further increase the chances for a bowl berth.

There are a lot of "if"s this season, especially in how well the team will compete under new offensive and defensive coordinators. Learning a new scheme, strategy, or way to play can't be easy.

Fortunately, the Hawkeyes have one big advantage to helping them get it down.

Four of the first five games of the season are at home against opponents that can be defeated. One thing the team won't have to deal with in the first half of the season is the possible confusion caused by a roaring crowd. Four-straight home games to open the season is never a negative thing.

And as was mentioned earlier, Iowa can drop a game or two early in the season and still easily make it to a bowl. The Hawkeyes don't have a stellar team, but it doesn't take a stellar season to make it to a bowl game in the Big Ten.

There are certainly a lot of question marks going into the season. But with Iowa's schedule, the possibility of a positive shakeup from new coordinators, and having more home games than away games — especially early in the season — the Hawkeyes should be a bowl-bound team.

— by Tommy Reinking

No

The Iowa football team is coming off the heels of consecutive 7-5 regular seasons and appearances at the Insight Bowl. Fans of the Iowa football program aren't happy, and are searching for changes in 2012.

Considering the departures of coordinators Ken O'Keefe and Norm Parker, primary running backs Marcus Coker and Mika'il McCall, and all-time leading receiver Marvin McNutt, change is in store for Hawkeye football.

But these changes will affect Iowa too much for the team receive a bid for a bowl game.

Some fans say the 2012 season is going to be easy for the Hawkeyes. The team doesn't seem to have a challenging schedule, but Iowa proved in years past that underrated opponents can show up to play and threaten the Black and Gold. Look at losses in the last two years to Minnesota and the almost-losses to Indiana and Northern Iowa years ago.

All of these teams are on the schedule for next year, and each could result in a loss. That's three potential losses before even thinking about playing Michigan or Michigan State at their home fields.

Injuries to Keenan Davis and Jordan Canzeri leave the team shorthanded at wide receiver and running back — although Davis should be at full strength again by the time the season starts. James Vandenberg provided laudable performances in Kinnick Stadium last year, but he struggled on the road. These problems need to be addressed for the Hawkeyes to qualify for the postseason.

The offense also seems to be struggling to adopt new offensive coordinator Greg Davis. Receivers dropped passes, and tailbacks fumbled repeatedly during the team's open spring practice on April 14.

Iowa has time to improve, but it will rely on inexperienced talent from the first snap. Some may be up to the task, but it's unlikely that every new starter will have an immediate impact.

And that's OK.

Iowa football needs a rebuilding year for Davis and Phil Parker to implement their new playbooks.

Just look at the past records for Iowa football: Before Ricky Stanzi's three-bowl win streak, the team went 7-5, 6-7, and 6-6 with two postseason losses and a season without a bid.

It seems this year may be one of those seasons as well. Dark days are approaching as a .500 season or worse looms in the gloom. The four-year bowl appearance steak could very well end.

Alternatively, an invitation to Detroit's Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl could also be in the future.

I'm not sure which is worse.

— by Matt Cabel


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