HN Magazine Inside Look: Iowa's 2006 Season

The 2006 Iowa football season promises to be one of high expectations from within the state borders, as well as from within the Iowa football practice facility. The recently released 2006 Hawkeye Nation Iowa Football Preview magazine breaks down the season in great detail. Here is a sneak peak at one of the articles that was in the magazine, and shows you the depth we go for our subscribers....

This article appeared in the 2006 Iowa Football Preview Edition of Hawkeye Nation, The Magazine. It comprises less than 10 percent of the content that made up the issue. It is very much indicative of the type of content that you will find in each and every color, glossy issue of the most popular Iowa Hawkeyes magazine in existence today. For ordering information, call 888-501-5752, or CLICK HERE for online ordering information, and how you can gain access to this website, a year's subscription to the magazine and a year's subscription to Sports Illustrated all for less than $100 per year

Last year, Iowa embarked on the season carrying enormous expectations. Some media outlets pegged the Hawkeyes as a Top 5 team and national title contenders.

While a 7-5 season (5-3 Big Ten) was nothing at which to sneeze, Iowa learned a valuable lesson about hype – it does nothing for you inside the white lines. The 2006 seniors took it to heart.

"Any time it's your senior year, you want to make an impact," Hawkeye tight end Scott Chandler said. "You want people to remember the way that your season went. As a team, there is a sense of urgency, especially as a group of seniors.

"There's a sense of urgency for us to want to get better and to be a team that's not going to have the game's slip away like we did last year at Michigan and Northwestern. We want to be a team that finishes games and we want to finish our careers on an up note."

Iowa lost in overtime against Michigan and late in the fourth quarter at Northwestern, relinquishing leads in the both contests.

Expectations heading into '06 are lower than a year ago. Most prognosticators place the Hawkeyes somewhere in the teens among national ranked teams.

"I wouldn't say that (this is potentially the most talented group he's played with at Iowa)," Iowa quarterback Drew Tate said. "Going into my junior year last spring, we had good receivers back. We had some guys back on the offensive line. Talent wise, it hasn't changed any at all. The expectations haven't either."

Tate doesn't feel pressure to perform in his final season. His goals remain the same as last year.

"I haven't really thought about there being a sense of urgency. I just want to play the best that I can and put our team in the best situation to win. I want to win every game that we play in. Everyone on our team does."

An undefeated season would bring bedlam to the Hawkeye Nation. The task should prove challenging again, as Iowa tackles a tough non-conference schedule and another always-rugged Big Ten slate.

Let's take a look at the obstacles that await the Hawkeyes in 2006.

Week 1 - Sept. 2, Montana
Series: Iowa leads 1-0
Last meeting: Iowa 48-6, Oct. 2, 1954

Rob: The Grizzlies rank as one of the better Division I-AA programs in the country, but there is a reason they're at that level. The Hawkeyes will be the bear in this one, imposing superior size, strength and speed. Keep an eye on Montana QB Josh Swogger, who transferred from Washington State. He might give the inexperienced Iowa corners and linebackers a little trouble, but not enough.

Iowa 45, Montana 14.

Jon: The Hawkeyes will be hunting some Grizz come September 2nd and it won't matter which way the wind is blowing. These Hawks will be heading for the Musselshell…OK, enough with the Jeremiah Johnson references. As Rob said, Montana is good for their division, and UNI scored some points on Iowa last year. But this year's Iowa defense might actually turn out better numbers than last year's group, and I think the Hawks start out the 2006 slate with a good skunkin'. Jake Christensen gets in two quarters of work in relief of Drew Tate, and he throws a touchdown pass to Jason Manson late in the third quarter. Iowa 48, Montana 0.

Week 2 - Sept. 9, at Syracuse
Series: Tied 1-1
Last meeting: Iowa 41-3, Sept. 18, 1976

Rob: Some of my friends live in this neck of the woods, and it will be good to see the Hawkeyes go in there and give them all something to remember. You worry about the first road game being against a major conference school, but this won't be like Arizona State in '04. Second-year coach Greg Robinson is trying to put the pieces back together for a program that's not Donovan McNabb's ‘Cuse. The Orangemen will field good athletes hungry to spring the upset, so it would benefit Iowa to jump on them early. They will. Iowa 35, Syracuse 17.

Jon: Last year, Syracuse lost to Connecticut, Rutgers, Cincinatti and South Florida en route to a 1-10 season. Their total offense rank was 115th in the nation, just ahead of Duke and Temple. They allowed nearly 200 yards rushing on the ground per game. This sounds like the perfect road opener, and the Hawkeye defense should wreak a lot of havoc in this game and be tops in the nation in many major statistical categories once its finished. Iowa 41, Syracuse 10.

Week 3 - Sept. 16, Iowa State
Series: Iowa leads 35-18
Last meeting: ISU 23-3, Sept. 10, 2005

Rob: Boy, the feeling on the Jack Trice field in the closing minutes of last year's game left a sour taste in my mouth. I can still taste it. But you know what they say about payback. Give ISU credit for coming into this game ultra-prepared every year, but expect the Hawkeyes look a little crisper this September as opposed to those in the past. They want this one bad, and their experienced offense should be able to push around a relatively inexperienced Cyclone defense. And, if it comes down to place kicking, well…Iowa 31, Iowa State 20.

Jon: Kirk Ferentz and his coaching staff are going to come into this season placing a great emphasis on the September portion of their schedule. It's not that they haven't given their all in past September's, but look for this year's team to have the same kind of edge you see from them once the season hits October and November. Dan McCarney's teams typically blitz the heck out of Iowa in these games and stack the box with eight defenders. Tate goes off for 300+ passing yards in what will be Tony Moeaki's coming out party. Iowa 30, Iowa State 20.

Week 4 - Sept. 23, at Illinois
Series: Illinois leads 37-26-2
Last meeting: Iowa 35-7, Oct. 1, 2005

Rob: Now that Ron Zook has figured out that Iowa's kickers don't also play running back, he needs to figure out how to compete with the Hawkeyes. The Illini should be a little better this year, but don't expect a big jump. The hurry up spread offense could cause the Iowa defense some troubles in this early season tilt, but I can't see Illinois being able to stop the Hawkeye offensive attack. Iowa 38, Illinois 17.

Jon: Iowa plays its Big Ten opener on the road…again. Since the 1998 season, Iowa has opened its league circuit at home just one time; against Penn State in 2001. However, opening on the road at Illinois is the closest thing to opening at home that the Big Ten has to offer. Illini fans are talking up the fact that they return 10 starters on both sides of the ball. Psst, Illini fan; those guys went 0-8 in the Big Ten last year. Iowa 34, Illinois 13.

Week 5 - Sept. 30, Ohio State
Series: Ohio State leads 43-14-3
Last meeting: Ohio State 31-6, Sept. 24, 2005

Rob: The Buckeyes demolition of Iowa last season in Columbus was painful to watch. Ohio State dominated both sides of the ball and physically manhandled the Hawkeyes. It looked pretty much like the reverse of what had happened in Iowa City a year earlier. Well, I don't know if either team will roll over the other this season, as both have big holes to fill. However, the Hawkeyes enjoy several intangible edges, such as revenge, home field advantage and a 7:00pm start under the lights. It's nice that Iowa gets this one early, as the Buckeyes' inexperienced talent should be dangerous by year's end. <Iowa 27, Ohio State 17.

Jon: I don't buy into the revenge factor. I am not saying it doesn't exist, it's just not something I have ever been a believer of. That being said, if it does exist, this will be the game it rears its head. The Kinnick Stadium crowd should be electric. The last night game in Kinnick, the 2003 game against Arizona State, was one of the most amazing crowds and scenes I have ever seen in the grand ole gal. This should top it, especially since it could be a match up of Top 10 teams. The winner has the inside track to the Big Ten title and a BCS bid. The loser is still in the hunt for both. The Hawks put up a September to remember, a perfect 5-0. Iowa 23, Ohio State 20.

Week 6 - Oct. 7, Purdue
Series: Purdue leads 44-31-3
Last meeting: Iowa 34-17, Oct. 8, 2005

Rob: These teams had been holding serve at home for the last decade before Iowa broke through with the dominating win in West Lafayette last fall. Some experts tabbed the Boilermakers as a conference contender, and they turned out to be a pretender. They'll have a lot less pressure this season, but a whole lot of holes to fill on both sides of the ball. Purdue will gain some yards and score some points, but again, I don't see this defense slowing the Hawkeyes O. Iowa 31, Purdue 20.

Jon: Purdue defensive coordinator Brock Spack will have his work cut out for him. Joe Tiller has gotten rid of some excess baggage within his program and has said he will no longer compromise his team for individuals. Good for Joe. Unfortunately, that is not going to help him come out of Kinnick with a win. Iowa's wins its 27th game in its last 28 tries at home. Iowa 38, Purdue 17.

Week 7 - Oct. 14, at Indiana
Series: Iowa leads 38-25-4 Last meeting: Iowa 38-21, Oct. 15, 2005

Rob: This game scares the heck out me. Similar to 2002, Iowa heads to Bloomington the week prior to a trip to the Big House. That year, the Hawkeyes won an ugly 28-8 contest at IU before blowing out the Wolverines. The Hoosiers possess some talent and an excellent coach in Terry Hoeppner and should be pretty competitive this season. Iowa gets this one, but it will be tough. Iowa 34, Indiana 24.

Jon: I tend to agree with Rob. This is what some call a ‘trap' game. If things go as we expect, Iowa would be undefeated, ranked in the Top 10 and a week away from a huge game at Michigan that could have historic implications. James Hardy might get 200 yards receiving, but Iowa outscores the hapless Indiana defense in this game. There is an outside chance that Iowa could be in the Top 5 at this point. Iowa 31, Indiana 20.

Week 8 - Oct. 21, at Michigan
Series: Michigan leads 39-10-4
Last meeting: Michigan, 23-20 OT, Oct. 22, 2005

Rob: I've been debating myself over this one since the Outback Bowl ended. I wish I had more time to think it over, but the magazine deadline has the proverbial gun to my head. Alright, both teams will have offensive firepower, especially at QB and RB. I give the Wolverines the edge at receiver, but Iowa boasts better tight ends. I give Iowa an advantage up front on defense, but Michigan might be better behind that. This simply is a matter of this game in the Big House. Michigan 27, Iowa 24.

Jon: I agree with Rob on a lot of fronts. Michigan has not scared Iowa for some time now. The shoe has been on the other foot. I remember what Norm Parker told his team prior to the 2003 Iowa-Michigan game in Kinnick; "If this were a street fight, we'd beat their asses." Michigan just has this ‘softness' about them, and Iowa might be able to exploit that by smacking them in the mouth when the black and gold is on defense. But it's still a tough place to play. Were this game in Kinnick, I would take Iowa. Like Rob, I will go with the home team, yet I would not be surprised at all to see Iowa win this game. By the way, the last time an Iowa team was 7-0 to start a season was in 1985. They won their seventh game against Michigan, 12-10. Ranked #1 in the nation, they lost their next game at Ohio State. Michigan 20, Iowa 17.

Week 9 - Oct. 28, Northern Illinois
Series: Iowa leads 5-0
Last meeting: Iowa 24-0, Sept. 18, 1999

Rob: Count me among the group that frowns upon non-conference games in the middle of the conference season. It's the first time I've seen it since coming here in 1997, and the first time Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz and his staff have experienced it. Such is the life in major college football, where the almighty dollar rules the day. OK, now we'll hop off of the soapbox. The Huskies usually field a pretty strong team in the competitive MAC, and they'll be pumped up to play in front of a sold out Kinnick Stadium. Unfortunately for them, their competition will be superior. Iowa 49, Northern Illinois 10.

Jon: Who let the dogs in? And at this time of the year? It will be interesting to see if Iowa suffers any sort of mental let down by taking a week off from the Big Ten wars. I don't think that will happen, much to the chagrin of the Huskies. This is the time of year where Kirk Ferentz's Iowa teams bear down and play dog tough. The sun will not shine on the rump of the dog's from DeKalb, Illinois on this day. Iowa 52, NIU 9.

Week 10 - Nov. 4, Northwestern

Series: Iowa leads 45-19-3

Last meeting: Northwestern 28-27, Nov. 5, 2005

Rob: It's still tough to figure out how the Hawkeyes dropped that game last year in Evanston. Sometimes, the football gods just roll that way. Northwestern learned that in the Sun Bowl. Iowa prefers to approach each game with the same intensity and desire, but you have to figure that the Hawkeyes will have a little extra bounce in their step for this one. The Wildcats lost their starting QB and standout LB from last year. They also used up their luck. Iowa 41, Northwestern 16.

Jon: Remember what I said earlier about revenge games? That doesn't apply to the fans. Hawkeye fans hate the color purple, and they will rain down hard on Randy Walker's Wildcats. Still, beware of the onside kick; Northwestern tried one on the opening kickoff the last time they were in Kinnick in 2002. They lost that game 62-10. Iowa 42, Northwestern 10.

Week 11 - Nov. 11, Wisconsin
Series: Iowa leads 40-38-2
Last meeting: Iowa 20-10, Nov. 12, 2005

Rob: I wonder if they'll be any stories written about new Wisky head coach Bret Bielema before this one kicks off. Iowa's former captain and assistant coach returns to Kinnick as the enemy. Expect the Hawkeye faithful to let him have it and his alma mater to ruin his homecoming. Iowa has had the Badgers' number this decade, winning four in a row in the series. And November means Hawkeye wins. Iowa 24, Wisconsin 14.

Jon: This will be the Big Ten finale for the Badgers and I think they may have a shot at winning their seventh league game. However, Iowa has broken the hearts of many a Badger fan over the course of the last three years. They stole a Capital One bid with the win at Camp Randall in 2003, they took a Big Ten title and Rose Bowl bid away from them in 2004 and they ruined Barry Alvarez's last home game in 2005. The Iowa Hawkeyes are their house of pain as of late, and there will be no fourth quarter jumping around for the Badgers in Iowa City. Iowa 31, Wisconsin 13.

Week 12 - Nov. 18, at Minnesota
Series: Minnesota leads 58-39-2
Last meeting: Iowa 52-28, Nov. 19, 2005

Rob: Again, Iowa loves November. And since these teams meet for Floyd of Rosedale every year in November, he's found a comfortable home in Iowa City since 2001. Minnesota hasn't been able to stop Iowa's offense at in this skid as was evidenced by Ed Hinkel's record four-touchdown performance a year ago. Iowa should have a lot on the line in this one as it treks up North, much like it was the case in '02. They better lock down the goal posts. Iowa 45, Minnesota 28.

Jon: Minnesota is trying their best to keep Iowa fans out of the Metrodome for this contest, with their ticket policies they put in place this year. Methinks there will still be plenty of black and gold in Minneapolis. After all, Minnesotans aren't stupid, are they? Who wants to go to a game when your team is fighting to finish .500 in league play when you could sell that ticket for $80? Just bring your wallet, Hawkeye fan, and you will get in. You will also see Iowa shred the Minnesota defense yet again; Iowa has averaged 41.6 points per game during their current five-game winning streak against the Gophers. Iowa 41.6, Minnesota 20.

Rob's Season Prediction: 11-1 (7-1 in Big Ten play)
Jon's Season Prediction: 11-1 (7-1 in Big Ten play)

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