Sure, it’s just July. But it’s never too early to talk college football. Here’s your daily fix — our eighth annual countdown of the preseason Top 25, as selected by the American-Statesman sports staff. Last season’s four College Football Playoff semifinalists were rated Nos. 3, 6, 13 and 24 on our 2015 list.
Today’s team: No. 18 Iowa (Related coverage: The Eno Effect — One Texan’s efforts to nab more state recruits for Iowa)
The Hawkeyes will contend if … they regain the momentum from winning their first 12 games last season before dropping the Big Ten championship game (to Michigan State) and Rose Bowl (Stanford). With quarterback C.J. Beathard and a veteran offensive line back, Iowa should regain the form that helped it average 31 points a game.
INSIDE THE HAWKEYES
Coach: Kirk Ferentz (17th season, 127-87; 139-108 overall, 20 years)
2015: 12-2, 8-0 in the Big Ten; lost to Stanford in the Rose Bowl 45-16
Returning starters: 6 offense, 7 defense
The key game: Nov. 25 vs. Nebraska
Hello: TE Noah Fant, ILB Kyle Taylor, RB Toks Akinribade
Goodbye: RB Jordan Canzeri, LB Cole Fisher, K Marshall Koehn (Miami Dolphins)
Spring cleaning: The 12-2 season proved profitable for Ferentz, who earned bonuses for going unbeaten in the Big Ten ($250,000), reaching the Rose Bowl ($250,000), finishing the season ranked in the Top 10 ($250,000), earning at least one national coaching of the year honor ($100,000) and being named the Big Ten’s coach of the year ($50,000). … Iowa took a close look this spring at new fullback Drake Kulick. The junior walk-on with virtually no experience will replace two players who played the position last year.
Passing: C.J. Beathard, 223-362-2,809 yards, 17/5 (1st)
Rushing: LeShun Daniels, 145-646-8 (2nd)
Receiving: Matt VandeBerg, 65-703-4 (1st)
Tackles: OLB Josey Jewell, 126 (1st)
Sacks: DE Nate Meier, 7 (1st)
RETURNING ALL CONFERENCE (3)
Offense: QB C.J. Beathard (2nd team)
Defense: CB Desmond King (2nd), OLB Josey Jewell (2nd)
- Who has the best offensive line in the country? According to ESPN, it’s Iowa. The foursome of Sean Welsh, Boone Myers, Ike Boettger and Cole Croston have 51 career starts. Averaging 302 pounds across the board, they should keep Beathard safe in the pocket. Only center Austin Blythe is missing from the 2015 line.
- Welsh, a junior, has been named to the Rimington Trophy spring watch list. Last fall, he started 12 games at guard and two at tackle. , This spring, he was shifted to center to make up for the loss of Blythe.
- Cornerback Desmond King tied a school record with eight interceptions last season, joining former Hawkeyes Lou King (1981) and Nile Kinnick (1939). One of his picks resulted in an 88-yard touchdown return vs. Wisconsin. He won the Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back.
Iowa's 2016 schedule
|Date||Opponent||Last yr's result (if played)|
|Sept. 3||Miami (Ohio)|
|Sept. 10||Iowa State||W, 31-17|
|Sept. 17||N. Dakota State|
|Sept. 24||at Rutgers*|
|Oct. 1||Northwestern*||W, 40-10|
|Oct. 8||at Minnesota*||W, 40-35|
|Oct. 15||at Purdue*||W, 40-20|
|Oct. 22||Wisconsin*||W, 10-6|
|Nov. 5||at Penn State*|
|Nov. 19||at Illinois*||W, 29-20|
|Nov. 25||Nebraska*||W, 28-20|
|* Big Ten game|
Iowa: The last 5 years
|2015||12-2 / 8-0||— / 9th||Rose Bowl, L|
|2014||7-6 / 4-4||— / —||Taxslayer Bowl, L|
|2013||8-5 / 5-3||— / —||Outback Bowl, L|
|2012||4-8 / 2-6||— / —||No bowl|
|2011||7-6 / 4-4||— / —||Insight Bowl, L|
|Total||38-27, 23-17||4 bowl games (0-4)|
2015 NATIONAL RANKS
Scoring: 54th (30.9 ppg)
Scoring defense: 19th (20.4 ppg)
Passing yards: 89th (204.4 ypg)
Rushing yards: 49th (181.7 ypg)
TOP 25 SO FAR …
No. 18: Iowa
No. 17: Coming Thursday. Want a hint? This Pac-12 school has lost four of its last five bowl games.
2 schools: ACC (20-North Carolina, 23-Louisville); Big 12 (19-Baylor, 22-Oklahoma State); Pac-12 (21-Oregon, 25-Washington State)
1 school: Big Ten (18-Iowa); Mountain West (24-Boise State)