Iowa football: Predicting Hawkeyes' final record in 2023
Iowa football entered the 2023 season with renewed expectations after an offseason of new arrivals. In particular, the Hawkeyes added quarterback Cade McNamara and tight end Erick All from the transfer portal.
Those two pieces were expected to play major roles while helping revitalize what was a dreadful offense in 2022. To their credit, both of those players had some strong moments early in the season, but both have since fallen to season-ending injuries.
Though not a season-ending injury, star TE Luke Lachey has also been sidelined extensively and starting running back Kaleb Johnson also missed time. Unfortunate injuries have plagued the team, but the good news is Iowa has won the majority of its games through Week 8.
ESPN BET is now live in Iowa
Use promo code SATURDAY to get your $250 bonus
However, there is no running from the dreadful offense that is still getting churned out of Iowa City. The Hawkeyes are averaging just 19.5 points per game (118th in the country) while averaging 232.4 yards of offense per game.
Deacon Hill — the new QB in place of McNamara — has completed just 37.8% of his passes this season and is averaging 4.4 yards per attempt. RB Leshon Williams has been a bright spot for the offense, but he alone cannot carry this offense to success.
With everything considered, Iowa is still in heavy contention for a B1G West title and is just one win away from guaranteeing a winning record in the regular season. Fans can be optimistic if they want, but the results have been far from pretty.
After a 6-2 start, here’s how Iowa will finish the 2023 season:
Week 9: Bye
Week 10: vs. Northwestern (Wrigley Field)
Skinny: Even without head coach Pat Fitzgerald, this Northwestern squad plays like an old-school Fitzgerald-led team. The Wildcats are not great in any one area but have been a tough out. Considering Iowa’s continued offensive deficiencies — and the possibility for wild Chicago weather in early November — this game could be a defensive struggle that comes down to one play. However, it should go in favor of the Hawkeyes
Prediction: Iowa 16, Northwestern 6
Week 11: vs. Rutgers
Skinny: Rutgers is bowl-eligible this season with a top-15 defense and an offense that ranks 71st nationally in points per game. The Scarlet Knights have also benefitted from some key special teams plays over the course of the season. Sound familiar? This is another game Iowa would win with a functioning offense. But, like the Minnesota game illustrated, this team is susceptible. It’s that reason alone that makes it impossible to believe Iowa will run the table despite the schedule.
Prediction: Rutgers 20, Iowa 10
Week 12: vs. Illinois
Skinny: Illinois has been up and down this season, showing the team can compete with anyone but also experiencing letdowns at inopportune moments. QB Luke Altmyer has made some plays but also has 9 interceptions and some struggles with fumbles. That spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E in Kinnick Stadium against a Phil Parker defense. Look for the Hawkeye defense to get after Altmyer in this one to flip the field and set up the anemic offense for some short-field scenarios on a regular basis.
Prediction: Iowa 23, Illinois 10
Week 13: at Nebraska
Prediction: The regular-season finale could be the rock vs. the immovable object when the Hawkeyes and Huskers face off in Memorial Stadium. Iowa is averaging 115.9 rushing yards per game while Nebraska allows just 76.6 rushing yards per game entering Week 9. On paper, that’s a huge advantage to Matt Rhule’s squad, but this is another team on Iowa’s schedule with a young QB relying on some freshmen receivers down the stretch. That youth is an area the Hawkeyes will look to exploit after watching Trey Palmer run rampant in Kinnick Stadium last season.
Prediction: Iowa 18, Nebraska 10
Final Iowa regular-season record: 9-3
Imagine telling an Iowa fan in the preseason that the Hawkeyes would go 9-3 this season with road trips to Iowa State, Penn State, Wisconsin and Nebraska on the schedule. Many would assume that record meant Cade McNamara was the answer many thought he would be for the offense with the defense producing its usual numbers.
Obviously, that is not how things have played out, but Iowa has a serious shot at finishing 9-3 (and an outside shot at 10-2). The Hawkeyes currently sit tied for second place in the B1G West, though Wisconsin is likely to take a second league loss when the Badgers face Ohio State.
At the end of the day, it sounds cliche but all the Hawkeyes can handle is one week at a time. That theme is only reinforced by the way the roster has changed due to injuries on a near-weekly basis. The team is what the team is at this point in the season, but the Hawkeyes still have a serious shot to get to Indianapolis.