How the Hawkeyes fared in 2004: 10-2 overall, 7-1 Big Ten
(Links to USA Today game stories)
Sept. 4 – IOWA 39, Kent State 7
Sept. 11 – IOWA 17, Iowa State 10
Sept. 18 – ARIZONA STATE 44, Iowa 7
Sept. 25 – MICHIGAN 30, Iowa 17
Oct. 2 – IOWA 38, Michigan State 16
Oct. 16 – IOWA 33, Ohio State 7
Oct. 23 – Iowa 6, PENN STATE 4
Oct. 30 – Iowa 23, ILLINOIS 13
Nov. 6 – IOWA 23, Purdue 21
Nov. 13 – Iowa 29, MINNESOTA 27
Nov. 20 – IOWA 30, Wisconsin 7
Jan. 1 – Iowa 30, Louisiana State 25 (in Orlando, Fla., at the Capital One Bowl)
Sept. 3 – BALL STATE
Sept. 10 – at Iowa State
Sept. 17 – NORTHERN IOWA
Sept. 24 – at Ohio State
Oct. 1 – ILLINOIS
Oct. 8 – at Purdue
Oct. 15 – INDIANA
Oct. 22 – MICHIGAN
Nov. 5 – at Northwestern
Nov. 12 – at Wisconsin
Nov. 19 – MINNESOTA
Starters returning: 12 – 6 offense, 5 defense, 1 kicker
Coach Kirk Ferentz: Entering his 10th season as a head coach, and seventh at the helm of the Hawkeyes, Ferentz is 54-52 (Iowa, Maine) and is 42-31 (27-21 Big Ten) at Iowa.
Versus Wisconsin: Wisconsin is 39-39-2 against Iowa, making this one of the Badgers' best rivalries. But Wisconsin has been on the losing end of the score the past three years. That includes an outing Nov. 22, 2003 in Madison when the Hawkeyes whittled away a 21-7 Wisconsin lead to win 27-21. The Badgers fell 30-7 at Iowa in 2004, with a trip to the Rose Bowl on the line.
Badger Nation 2004 coverage
Hawkeyes 2004 in brief
After getting demolished at Arizona State and handled at Michigan, Iowa was an unremarkable 2-2. But the Hawkeyes rattled off eight straight wins to close out the season, including crushing home wins over Ohio State and Wisconsin and close calls against Penn State, Purdue, Minnesota, and, in incredibly dramatic fashion, LSU. When the dust cleared the Hawkeyes had won a share of the Big Ten title for the second consecutive season and had finished No. 8 in the nation for the third straight year.
Quarterback Drew Tate's magical breakout performance and one of the nation's best defenses allowed the Hawkeyes to overcome a truly dreadful running game.
Iowa suffered from an uncanny spell of injuries; the top four tailbacks all succumbed to knee ailments. As a result, Iowa was last in the Big Ten in rushing, producing fewer than 60 yards per game on the ground in eight conference contests.
But Tate saved the offense and Iowa's season, directing the league's most efficient passing game. Tate completed 62 percent of his passes (233 of 375) for 2,786 yards and 20 touchdowns, against 14 interceptions.
The awfully high number of sacks Iowa allowed skewed Tate's rushing numbers, but he was often the team's most effective running option, and his nifty footwork behind a struggling line was a big reason why he was able to have so much success as a passer.
Tate's first-team All-Big Ten season should not overshadow the Hawkeyes' defense. Iowa gave up fewer yards in conference games than any other team in the Big Ten and fewer points than all but Penn State.
The defense was littered with players who earned at least honorable mention All-Big Ten acclaim: linebackers Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge, defensive end Matt Roth, defensive tackles Jonathan Babineaux and Tyler Luebke, cornerbacks Antwan Allen and Jovon Johnson and free safety Sean Considine.
The Hawkeyes also benefited from first-year kicker Kyle Schlicher's impressive accuracy, particularly from inside 40 yards.
Looking ahead to 2005
Tate is back, as are top pass catchers Ed Hinkel and Clinton Solomon and three of the four injured tailbacks from a year ago. Tate is considered one of the best returning quarterbacks in the nation and the preseason favorite to win Big Ten offensive most valuable player honors. With a year of experience under his belt, and a living, breathing running game to work with, Tate's exceptional act will soar to new heights.
It does not hurt to have Solomon, Hinkel and tight end Scott Chandler to throw to either. That trio combined for nearly 2,000 receiving yards a year ago.
If the offensive line and running game achieve respectability Iowa's offense will be talked about nationally.
One of the nation's best defensive lines is being replaced by a corps with little to no significant experience. That could be problematic for the Hawkeyes, but they return potential All-American linebackers in Hodge and Greenway and the Big Ten's second best corner tandem (after Penn State). This should still be an upper echelon defense in the conference.
Iowa is rightfully among the favorites to win the Big Ten and could be a top five team nationally this season.