College Football Analysis: What Sort of Year Will the Iowa Hawkeyes Have in 2012?

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Last week we took a look at how Kirk Ferentz and Iowa, despite solid recruiting and player development, aren’t winning enough games on the field. I thought a perfect follow up to that story would be for me to project Iowa’s college football win totals for the 2012 season.

5Dimes has yet to post a number for Iowa’s college football win totals for this upcoming season, so this exercise will give us a perfect opportunity to estimate their season win totals and then debate the number.

College Football Win Totals: Iowa 2012

In previous articles we have estimated college football win totals for Oregon and Alabama. Using a similar method let’s take a look at Iowa’s college football win totals for 2012.

The first thing I like to do when evaluating college football win totals is take a look at who did that team lose, who’s coming back, who’s replacing the lost starters, what positions got hit hardest, etc.

In Iowa’s case, for the 3rd season in a row, they had 6 players taken in the NFL draft and 5 more players signed free agent contracts. Add in the loss of starting RB Marcus Coker and I calculate that the Hawkeyes lost 6 starters on both sides of the ball.

Not as much talent on the 2012 team

According to a few of the early 2013 NFL draft projections, the Hawkeyes do not appear to have any NFL first round talent on hand this season. Per CFN and CBS Sports, Iowa’s best prospects for this year appear to be:

QB – James Vandenberg

OC – James Ferentz

LB – James Morris

WR – Keenan Davis

CB – Micah Hyde

However, none of these players are projected any higher than the third round. The real concern for Iowa, and the main reason they do not appear to have as much talent and depth on hand in 2012, is the Hawkeyes are having an attrition problem.

“Unfortunately, the problem hasn’t gotten any better since then (the Iowa State loss); if anything it’s gotten worse.”

Schedule and Projected Win Probabilities

The next important factor when estimating college football win totals is to take a close look at the schedule. Not only do you need to look at each opponent, but you need to analyze the makeup of each game on the schedule.

Which games are at home or on the road? Are there any possible let-down spots? Are they playing an opponent coming off a bye?

In Iowa’s case the schedule sets up quite nicely for the Hawkeyes. The non-conference schedule is embarrassingly easy . They play two MAC schools (NIU at a neutral site and CMU at home), depleted rival Iowa State at Kinnick and an FCS opponent (NIU).

The Big 10 schedule is also very manageable with only trips to East Lansing (Michigan State) and Ann Arbor (Michigan) appearing as likely losses.

The first thing I do is calculate the probability of Iowa winning each game. I have placed this number, in bold, to the right of each opponent.

Below is Iowa’s 2012 football schedule.

09/01                   vs NIU (Chicago)  (85%)

09/08                   vs Iowa State  (65%)

09/15                   vs Northern Iowa (95%)

09/22                   vs Central Michigan (90%)

09/29                   vs Minnesota  (70%)

10/13                   @ Michigan State (35%)

10/20                   vs Penn State  (50%)

10/27                   @ Northwestern  (50%)

11/03                   @ Indiana (70%)

11/10                   vs Purdue (60%)

11/17                   @ Michigan (35%)

11/23                   vs Nebraska (50%)

The total number I come up for Iowa is 755, or 7.55 wins based on the win probability numbers.  As you can see, only two games appear to be likely losses on Iowa’s schedule — a road game at Michigan State and a road game at Michigan. There are six likely wins and four toss ups.

Iowa Over 7.5 Wins

Based on these numbers I have Iowa winning between 7 and 8 games.  I’m not too confident in Iowa’s returning talent and experience, however, I do like that 3 of the 4 games I project as a toss-up  are at home (Penn State, Purdue & Nebraska).

I have to believe that Iowa’s season win totals will be released at over/under 7.5, at which point, depending on the odds I will make my decision as the whether or not I want to wager on the Hawkeyes going over 7.5 wins. If however, Iowa’s college football win totals are set at 7 (or less), I will definitely be taking a shot on the Hawkeyes.

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Get more great college football analysis over at Saturday Edge.