Iowa has reached the bye after eight games this season. The Hawkeyes are 5-3 overall and 3-2 in Big Ten play. After soaring to No. 11 in the USA Today/Coaches poll rankings, the Hawkeyes have fallen out of the national spotlight. Iowa travels to Penn State on Nov. 5. It’s a good time to review and grade the Hawkeyes’ first part of the season.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — When grading a team’s overall performance, it’s easy to take a knee-jerk approach based on its most recent game. A loss equals an F. A win … well, that depends on the margin of victory and opponent.
But finding the objective sweet spot to evaluate a team’s performance at its bye is challenging. On one hand, Iowa was predicted to win the Big Ten West Division title. That now appears unlikely. In most ways, it has been a disappointing season. On the other hand, Iowa has shown growth and toughness in winning road games late in the fourth quarter.
The Hawkeyes have won a school-record nine consecutive road games, including three this year. They’ve also lost their last three games at Kinnick Stadium. So to pick a word for this season thus far, I’d use “unsatisfying.”
|BY THE NUMBERS||2016||Big Ten rank||NCAA rank|
|Total yards allowed/game||377.4||7th||48th|
|S&P+ offense rating||29.1||5th||37th|
|S&P+ defense rating||24.0||10th||46th|
|S&P+ special teams rating||1.0||2nd||10th|
The Hawkeyes have three games with at least six touchdowns and two games with one or less. Iowa has played four games against teams with winning records and lost to three of them. The Hawkeyes had a shot to win all three. They also could have lost to Rutgers and Minnesota on the road.
For the first five games, Iowa couldn’t stop the run. For the last six games, Iowa’s passing game has been stuck in neutral. No running tandem in the Big Ten can match Akrum Wadley (636 yards) and LeShun Daniels (624), at least until this weekend. Cornerback Desmond King ranks fourth in the country in kickoff returns, a year after tying a school record with eight interceptions. There’s bad, and there’s good. In other words, ordinary.
While most fans consider this season a failure, in reality the Hawkeyes are a middle-of-the-road 5-3 team. They have four games left to shake that label or wear it like a scarlet letter.
OVERALL GRADE: C-minus
Iowa bye week grades: Erratic passing game holds back Hawkeyes offense
Iowa bye week grades: Defense finding its way as season progresses
Iowa bye week grades: Desmond King putting the special in special teams
Iowa bye week grades: Coaching staff deserves both credit and blame for 5-3 start