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Hawkeye fans optimistic about 2012 season

[ 0 ] August 26, 2012 |

Iowa football fans — and probably a few others — have spoken.

Breaking news: They will have one of their best Big Ten Conference records, according to optimistic, faithful followers.

They’ve identified their most indispensable player. They’re up on significant freshmen who will play in Saturday’s season-opener against Northern Illinois at 2:30 p.m. at Chicago’s Soldier Field.

They even have an opinion on which Big Ten Conference rookie coach will make the biggest immediate impact.

It’s in black and white. It’s the result of summer HawkCentral polls, which we all know are as scientific as preseason magazine predictions. Actually, maybe they’re more believable.

Nevertheless …

Iowa’s nonconference season prediction

Polling matches what some have mentioned on the streets — that the Hawkeyes have a legitimate shot to win their first five games, and this includes Iowa State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 8.

(Remember, results are from a HawkCentral website poll. Iowa State fans were asked the same question on The Des Moines Register’s CycloneInsider page, and 66.2 percent of respondents picked the Cyclones to defeat the Hawkeyes for the second year in a row.)

First things first, though — 94.4 percent figure Iowa will beat Northern Illinois on Saturday, 93.7 percent predict victory against Northern Iowa on Sept. 15, and a whopping 96.1 percent are confident the Hawkeyes defeat Central Michigan on Sept. 22.

But against the Cyclones, fans are not as confident. Just 79.1 percent pick an Iowa victory in a rivalry won in triple overtime by Iowa State last season in Ames.

Big Ten season picks

Again, Iowa fans (and a few others) flashed their colors by predicting a 6-2 Big Ten record, which would be just the fourth time a Kirk Ferentz-coached team won at least six conference games.

The cinch win, according to fans, was against Penn State on Oct. 20.

An eye-popping 96.7 percent of people responding picked a Hawkeye victory in this rivalry for the fourth time in the past five seasons. It’d be the fifth consecutive win at Kinnick Stadium.

They weren’t nearly as sure what would happen on Nov. 23, also in Iowa City, when Nebraska comes to town for the first time since 1999. That’s when Husker Eric Crouch passed and ran for 160 yards and three touchdowns.

Crouch’s performance helped ruin Kirk Ferentz’s debut as Iowa’s coach, promoting this postgame comment about the direction of his new program:

“It’s not hopeless.”

Even Iowa fans, however, know a potential toughie when they see one. Or two, in this case.

Just more than half predicted losses against Michigan State (52.8 percent) and against Michigan (55.4 percent).

How important is the quarterback?

Very, according to more than 1,200 people who picked James Vandenberg the most valuable Hawkeye.

He’s significant by a wide range — 67 percent of the vote, to linebacker James Morris’ 8 percent.

“’Indispensable’ means we are (in trouble) without him,” someone called Patrick wrote in the comment section of the website.

In trouble?

His backup, Jake Rudock, is a redshirt freshman.

And speaking of inexperience…

It’s likely to be one of those tailback-by-committee deals, with Damon Bullock being followed by a cast of Hawkeye rookies.

Even before Barkley Hill had a season-ending ACL injury two weeks ago, fans spoke:

Nearly 63 percent said Greg Garmon would be the true freshman who rushed for the most yards.

Big Ten rookie coach of the year?

Ohio State’s Urban Meyer was favored by 73.3 percent of almost 2,000 voters to have the conference’s top record among the three coaches new to their schools.

Penn State’s Bill O’Brien and Illinois’ Tim Beckman followed — by at least three football fields.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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