IOWA CITY, Iowa - We've hit the halfway mark of the season and Iowa sits with the same 4-2 record it had a year ago. The 2012 Hawkeyes jumped out to a 2-0 Big Ten mark at this point, however, while this group dropped to 1-1 with Saturday's 26-14 homecoming loss to Michigan State.
It's fair to say that the majority of Iowa fans feel better now than they did at this time in '12. An improved offense, in large part, has cultivated that opinion and hope that the team doesn't lose its final six games for a second year in a row.
For fun, let's compare the squads statistically:
Through a half dozen contests this fall, the Hawkeye offense is averaging 23.8 points per game, up three a content from a year ago. These numbers do not include special teams and defensive touchdowns.
Hindsight being 20-20, it's easy to see why people feel better about this year's offense knowing what happened to it from this point forward a year ago. The memory of dropped passes and those completed for three yards on third and five still elicit nightmares.
Defensively, the Hawkeyes are allowing 15.7 points a game in '13 after giving up an average of 17.2 through six contests a year ago. Again, these totals do not include special teams or defensive scores by the opposition.
So, it's not really the offensive and defensive numbers about which we should feel better. They are comparable. It's perception and what we see with our eyes (or what we think we're seeing).
Moving along, Iowa's four wins (Missouri State, Iowa State, Western Michigan, Minnesota) this season have come against teams with a combined 6-17 record. The two teams (Northern Illinois, Michigan State) to defeat it have compiled a 9-1 mark.
Last season's four wins (Northern Illinois, Northern Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan State) through six games for the Hawkeyes came against schools that at the time were a combined 15-11 and finished 30-21. The two setbacks (Iowa State, Central Michigan) through a half dozen games occurred versus programs that were, together, 6-6, as of Oct. 13.
The remaining teams on Iowa's schedule this season have accumulated a 23-8 (.742 winning percentage) record. Its final six opponents last season finished 46-31 (.597).
Granted, the higher winning percentage by this year's final six opponents is inflated by some non-conference patsies. Recognizing that, outside of Purdue, the other five schools (Ohio State, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska) are likely to win more than they lose from here on out.
Last year through six games, Weisman had 631 yards. Bullock, who hurt himself in Week 3, had 280 yards at this point. That's a total of 911.
At quarterback, Rudock has completed 105 of 174 passes for 1,202 yards this season with eight touchdowns against six interceptions. The sophomore also has rushed for 139 yards on 31 attempts. He has been sacked five times.
At the halfway point last year, Vandenberg had completed 112 of 195 passes for 1,134 yards with two touchdowns against three interceptions. He had rushed for -10 yards on 23 caries, which included seven sacks.
In '13, Martin-Manley leads the Hawkeye receivers with 26 receptions for 225 yards. Damond Powell has 225 yards on six catches and Fiedorowicz has totaled 98 yards on 11 grabs. Bullock (13-113) and Tevaun Smith (10-104) are next.
At this point last season, kicker Mike Meyer was 14 of 15 on field goal attempts. The senior is 8 of 11 this fall, missing two of three between 30-39 yards.
One of the changes that has excited onlookers was Iowa speeding up its offense in '13. The Hawkeyes ran at least 80 plays in its first three games, the first time it happened during that many consecutive contests in Kirk Ferentz's 15 seasons as head coach. They averaged 81 plays through the first four.
That number has fallen off since Big Ten play began two games ago. Michigan State ran 81 plays to Iowa's 62 on Saturday and the Hawkeyes have averaged just 66 plays per conference game.
What do all of these numbers tell us? While an inexact determinant, at least statistically, this year's team compares quite a bit to the '12 Hawkeyes.
Iowa does "look" better than it did a season ago. We'll see if that results in more victories than it did last year, and if it does, how many more.