Location: Iowa City, Iowa
2018 record: 9-4 (6-4 Big Ten)
Head coach: Kirk Ferentz (21st year, 152-101)
2019 record so far: 3-0 (1-0)
Record against Ohio State since 2010: 1-2
What’s happened so far in 2019:
No. 14 Iowa Hawkeyes are one of five teams in the Big Ten that remain undefeated through the first four weeks of the season. Their first two wins were blowouts against Miami (Ohio), with a 38-14 victory to open up the season, and a 30-0 shutout against Rutgers. Week 3 was a different story, as Iowa came back from a 14-6 deficit in the fourth quarter to narrowly defeat its in-state rival Iowa State 18-17.
Key offensive player:
Senior quarterback Nathan Stanley returns to Iowa for his third consecutive season as the leader of the Hawkeye offense. In 2019, he’s been the main source of production offensively and has completed 59-of-93 passes for 689 yards and six touchdown passes. In addition, Stanley has rushed for 40 yards on the season with one score. Stanley’s experience will be key in upcoming games against Michigan and Penn State.
Key defensive player:
Iowa’s impact players come in the form of linebacker duo sophomore Djimon Colbert and senior Kristian Welch, who both return as starters. Colbert was the No. 5 leading tackler for the Hawkeyes in 2018 with 52 total takedowns, while Welch was not far behind with 49. After four weeks, the pair shares the team lead with 21 each. Much like Stanley being the key to the Iowa offense, Colbert and Welch are integral to a strong Hawkeye defense, especially in the run game, as Iowa replaced four key defensive linemen from 2018 prior to the season.
Iowa’s main issue will come down to whether its new starters are ready for the limelight. Offensively, the Hawkeyes have to replace not only two first-round NFL draft picks in tight ends T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant, but also leading receiver Nick Easley. Junior defensive end A.J. Epenesa is coming off a 2018 season that saw him lead the Big Ten with 10.5 sacks, but the 280-pound edge rusher has just one sack and one tackle for loss through three games. Playing in the Big Ten West division gives Iowa a tough schedule as well, as it has yet to play Northwestern, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Nebraska along with two remaining cross-division games against Michigan and Penn State. The Hawkeyes have played well so far, but getting through that schedule unscathed is a tall task for any team, especially one with so much to replace.