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Ask D&D: Iowa Mailbag October 14

The Iowa mailbag returns for a mid-season look at how the season is going, a projection for the rest of the season, and recruiting updates.

WHICH HAWKEYE DO YOU BELIEVE WILL/HAS THE BEST CHANCE TO BREAK OUT THE SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON?

DYLAN: I think on offense it could be Riley McCarron. He's had a good couple weeks minus the drops and could be poised for more action in the second half here. I wanted to say either Daniels or Wadley, but I think we're seeing what they're going to give us on a consistent basis. On defense, ill say Manny Rugamba, the true freshman seems to really be settling in and even had his first interception last week. As the season wears on and he gets more comfortable he should settle in. We know he'll see his fair share of target due to who plays on the outside.

DEREK: You can make the argument that all of Riley McCarron, LeShun Daniels, Akrum Wadley and Manny Rugamba have broken out. Rugamba sees a lot of snaps for a true freshman and already has an interception. Wadley has a 200-yard game under his belt in his career and a few 100-yard performances. He's practically a starter. Daniels has been the listed starter and in his second season of that label. McCarron has lead the receiver core the last two weeks with VandeBerg sidelined. 

When I think breaking out, I think someone that has done very little up to this point. I don't know if it happens because I'm not confident at all in the passing game but it would be very helpful for Iowa if Jay Scheel broke out. It's hard to count on that or project it because there has been little evidence or signs to suggest it. My pick for offense would be Noah Fant. His snap count has increased each of the last two weeks and both Kirk Ferentz and C.J. Beathard talked about how they're beginning to work him into the offense more and more. He has to catch the ball and be dependable when called upon or those snap counts can diminish just as fast, but the arrow is definitely pointed upward for Fant. 

Defensively, I would say Brandon Snyder. He's now started six games. He had one 'okay' game and two pretty good ones, but also three where he was less than stellar and would like to have back. He's showed flashes. He's showed promise. He clearly has the talent level but has just lacked the experience. Maybe the experience of the first six games sets him up to have a strong second half of the season. I have far more confidence in his improvement than Miles Taylor's at this stage.

MID-SEASON PREDICTION ON THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF?

DYLANAlabama, Ohio State, Washington, Louisville. Hard to see Alabama, OSU, or Washington losing given the way they are playing. These would be my picks right now.

DEREK: I disagree vehemently with the Louisville pick. The only way they get in is if the ACC gets two teams in the playoff and I would not count on that. I think Louisville is fantastic but they have to hope Clemson loses two more conference games in the regular season to even make their own conference title. The odds are totally against that. Perhaps Clemson loses a game this regular season but they're not losing two in that league when they don't face Miami and have already taken down the Cardinals. 

Because I think Michigan beats Ohio State in Columbus this season, I'll roll with the Wolverines out of the Big Ten. I'll stick with Clemson from the ACC as that league has little fight left for the Tigers. Alabama is the class of the SEC and make it for me. The fourth spot comes down to if a Pac-12 team has the qualifications to advance to the playoff or if the next best team can make it from the SEC, Big Ten or ACC (Tennessee, Ohio State, Louisville).

I like the Huskies but I think they get tripped up more than once. Though the Pac-12 has little at the top, it has more depth than any other league and that means a lot of opportunities to fall. The Volunteers have the talent but they're not getting in with two losses. That means it would take two wins over the Crimson Tide to make it and that's asking for the impossible. That leaves the Buckeyes and Louisville. It's hard to see them telling Ohio State, no.

Alabama, Michigan, Clemson, Ohio State. 

WHAT SPORTS/TEAMS ARE YOU A FAN OF OUTSIDE OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL? SO, THE NFL/MLB/NBA?

DYLAN: Unfortunately I'm a Bears fan, so hasn't been much to cheer about. Although Hoyer has looked solid the last couple of weeks. I love my Cubbies. I don't think I have any fingernails left after Tuesday night. And I go a bit off the beaten path for the NBA, I'm a Magic fan. Still mad about the Oladipo trade.

DEREK: Well, as many know, I grew up on Ohio State football. I relinquished that fandom when I entered this industry. I covered Ohio State recruiting and left all fandom aside and in the past. Then moved to Kansas City. Now I'm in Iowa covering the Hawkeyes and I'm not a fan of them either. I'm just a college football fan at this point. I don't live or die by the results of any one game. I enjoy the sport as a whole because it's so fantastic and a lot of fun doing so. 

Outside of college football, my most intense fandom lies with the Cincinnati Reds, Green Bay Packers, and Cleveland Cavaliers. It was a good year thanks to LeBron James and company. I grew up in Ohio and I'm a child in that state that grew up through his years of high school where he played in front of huge crowds and sold out college and professional arenas as a sophomore in high school. That's something I won't soon forget. It was quite a craze. The Reds broke my heart from 2010-2013 where there should have been a championship from that team. Every other year they've been non-competitive which has lead to a lot of disappointment. The Packers are competitive each year and are always in the postseason. I remember their two Super Bowl wins during my lifetime and it was awesome to see. 

CAN WE GET AN UPDATE ON ANDREW VAN GINKEL ABOUT HIS VISIT, EVEN IF FROM HIS COACH?

DEREK: The updates that I have shared about Van Ginkel have been from his coaches and those close to him. There really isn't an update or a visit story that will be anything different than what every prospect says afterwards. Every prospect loves the facilities and the game atmosphere and enjoy hanging out with the players and had a great conversation with the coaching staff. They like the school and had a good time and would grade it an impressive visit. I could write his visitor story update out without speaking to him if I wanted. They're all about the same. 

What you need to know is that Iowa is in a good spot, and according to those close to him and the folks around the Iowa Western program, a decision is not expected soon. It'll come after the seasons most likely. We will work to speak with someone on the record and obtain quotes from Van Ginkel, of course. It would probably be just far less enlightening than any premium information we have shared on the message board.

WHAT IS YOUR PREDICTION FOR OUR RECORD OVER THE SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON?

DYLAN: I see 3-3 to be honest. With losses to Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nebraska. Those three teams have looked much better than Iowa has this season. Things can always change though.

DEREK: I'll say 4-2. I think Iowa beats the teams they should beat in Purdue, Illinois, and Penn State. They lose to Michigan. But I think they grab a victory from either Wisconsin or Nebraska. Furthermore, it's not just that Iowa is a good road team and not a good home one. It's that their games on the road are far easier than what the home schedule is. They're playing better teams at home. It's that simple to me. 

OHIO STATE 58-0 OVER RUTGERS, MICHIGAN 78-0 OVER RUTGERS, IOWA 14-7 OVER RUTGERS. WHAT CONCLUSIONS DO YOU DRAW FROM THESE SCORES?

DYLAN: I think it's simple. Michigan and Ohio State are better offensively that Iowa is. More high powered, have better weapons. I don't think Iowa is too far behind defensively,  but offensively they are.

DEREK: It's that Ohio State and Michigan are two of the top three or four teams in the country. Iowa is likely a fringe top-25 team. I don't know if this makes sense but I also think that there is less than 20 top-25 teams in college football this year. I think it's a top-heavy year.

I think the SEC is far less impressive than usual. The Big 12 is hot garbage. The ACC is top heavy with Clemson and Louisville, and Florida State has underperformed dramatically. The Pac-12 has depth but not any great teams other than Washington. Are Arizona State and Utah (likely the second and third best teams in the Pac-12) scaring anyone and do they make you think top-10? I think Wisconsin and Nebraska are vastly overrated. But in this season, when there's not a lot of great teams, they can nestle into the top 10 for now. Check the Vegas lines, they aren't buyers either. They have the Huskers as a three-point favorite over Indiana. 

There's just a significant drop-off after you get past Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama, Clemson, Louisville and Washington. I'm still not certain what to think of Texas A&M or Tennessee, either. 

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