Which game could turn a season on a dime? Or flip it on its head? We asked Land of 10’s Sean Keeler and Corey Masisak to break down the football games in the fall that intrigue them the most — and why, continuing with the Iowa Hawkeyes:
2016 record: 8-5, 6-3 Big Ten
2017 predicted record (Massey): 7-5, 4-5 Big Ten
Home games: Wyoming; North Texas; Penn State; Illinois; Minnesota; Ohio State; Purdue.
Road games: Iowa State; Michigan State; Northwestern; Wisconsin; Nebraska.
Most intriguing game: vs. Penn State, Sept. 23
Over the last generation, the Hawkeyes and Nittany Lions have turned into one of those fun, bizarre conference donnybrooks that doesn’t get nearly the national ink it deserves. Iowa’s stunning win at Happy Valley in November 2000 jump-started the Kirk Ferentz era, and the Hawks’ 6-4 victory at State College in 2004 played out like a narrative straight out of 1896. Or the Twilight Zone.
— Honest Jay Paterno (@HonestJayPa) October 3, 2011
Hey, Kirk Ferentz, there will be no more 6-4 games ever against #PSU with Bill O’Brien as coach.
— Cory Giger (@CoryGiger) October 21, 2012
With Akrum Wadley in one backfield and Saquon Barkley in the other, the 2017 matchup might feature 10 combined points after the first 8 or 9 minutes. Iowa should be 3-0 heading into its Big Ten opener, and trend lines — we love trend lines — portend another wacky Hawkeyes triumph.
Since the Lions joined the Big Ten football picture in 1993, the Iowa-PSU series has resumed three times after lengthy gaps: 1999, 2007 and 2016. Penn State won every one of those “reunion” games, and handily, by an average margin of 33-9. But then the script flips: After ’99, Iowa won the next four contests over the next four years from 2000-2004, and after ’07, took the next three contests over three straight seasons from 2008-2010.
So, even if we aren’t 100 percent certain how the Hawkeyes’ quarterback soap opera shakes out, or what wrinkles lie in wait from a Brian Ferentz-Ken O’Keefe reunion tour, or if PSU’s Trace McSorley will pick things up right where he left off in Pasadena, precedent wears black and gold. And just like the Michigan game last November, Captain Kirk has a chance to throw a big ol’ wrench right in the teeth of the East Division race.
Only this time, right out of the chute.