7 stars. You know what you're getting with the Hawkeyes: low-scoring, fundamentally sound football. While that may be good for 7-10 wins a year, it doesn't always make for exciting viewing from your couch. In other words, the perfect post-Thanksgiving chaser for Husker fans.
Iowa has won five straight in the series, but the past two have been three-point decisions. As is the case with Nebraska-Wisconsin, it's time for the Huskers to end the futility. It's gotten ridiculous. Thing is, though, Iowa just finished a five-year stretch with 47 victories. The Hawkeyes were 10-3 last season. Kirk Ferentz has the program to a point where it doesn't rebuild, it reloads. It's no wonder NU has so much trouble in this series. The Hawkeyes must replace quarterback Nate Stanley, but they return four starting offensive linemen and added Coy Cronk, a graduate transfer who started 40 games at Indiana. Ferentz pushes forward with only five returning starters on defense, but defensive coordinator Phil Parker has a knack for sustaining a high level of consistency.
You guessed it, it'll be yet another close game between the border rivals. This time, the team with a veteran quarterback (Adrian Martinez) gets it done as Wan'Dale Robinson calls for the ball repeatedly in the fourth quarter, the way he did last season at Illinois.
The main cast
WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette. Fourth in the nation in kickoff returns last year, averaging 29.6 per. Also led the Hawkeyes in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns.
LT Alaric Jackson. NFL-ready, Jackson will be a four-year starter on what is annually a strong unit. Iowa will run behind him, and trust him to protect a new quarterback.
K Keith Duncan. Ultra-confident (or cocky, depending on your point of view), Duncan led the country in made field goals last season with 29. Also led the Big Ten in blowing kisses at the opposing bench after making a game-winner.
O24, at Purdue; O31, Northwestern; N7, Michigan State; N13, at Minnesota; N21, at Penn State; N27, Nebraska; D5, at Illinois; D12, Wisconsin.