By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Allow me to be the latest member of the Iowa media to share my game-by-game predictions for the 2018 Iowa football team.
The only hint I'll give about my prediction for Iowa's record is that I have Iowa 3-1 after four games, but how it achieves that record might surprise you.
These picks were given serious thought and are truly how I feel about the outcome of each game. The comments, on the other hand, aren’t so serious.
But if you can’t have fun predicting the outcome of Iowa football games, then when can you have fun?
My picks include a five-game winning streak and a three-game losing streak, and point to another season filled with peaks and valleys, as has often been the case recently.
And please remember, I picked what I think will happen, not what I want to happen.
If I had my way, Iowa would run the table and make the college playoff where it would embarrass Alabama in the national title game.
Imagine the look on Nick Saban’s face should that happen, although, it probably wouldn’t be any different than his look after winning a national title game.
Iowa 23, Northern Illinois 17: Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley completes a game-winning pass to Nick Easley as time expires, and with Northern Illinois defensive end Sutton Smith wrapped around both of Stanley's legs for what was nearly Smith’s sixth sack in the game. Kirk Ferentz becomes Iowa’s all-time winningest football coach with the victory and is carried off the field by members of Iowa's 1983 coaching staff.
Iowa State 28, Iowa 24: For the second week in a row at Kinnick Stadium, a head coach is carried off the field after a monumental victory, only this time it's Iowa State coach Matt Campbell, who gets the victory ride from paranoid Cyclone fans who refuse to let him down for fear that he might take the Ohio State job.
Iowa 38, Northern Iowa 20: Panther fans deal with yet another loss to Iowa in football by chanting “play us in basketball” in the closing seconds of the game.
Iowa 20, Wisconsin 17: With the Badgers trailing 14-0 at halftime, Barry Alvarez names himself temporary head coach and tries unsuccessfully at halftime to hire away Reese Morgan and Phil Parker from the Iowa staff. Paul Chryst is reinstated immediately after the game, so he can deal with the media at Kinnick Stadium.
Iowa 23, Minnesota 21: Iowa defensive back and Minneapolis native Amani Hooker knocks down the potential game-winning touchdown pass as time expires. Hawkeye fans then celebrate by tearing down one of the goal posts at TCF Bank Stadium and carrying it to the nearby Mississippi River where a boat is waiting to take them on a victory ride in which they chant “Row the Boat” from start to finish.
Iowa 34, Indiana 27: Who does Steve Alford cheer for in this road matchup? The school that gave him his first big break in coaching, but then subtly forced him out, or his once-beloved alma mater that seems determined not to hire him?
Iowa 28, Maryland 16: My thoughts and prayers to the family of Jordan McNair, and watch out if Maryland should be fortunate to hire a decent head coach some day because the program has so many built-in recruiting advantages, namely location.
Penn State 31, Iowa 17: James Franklin probably ranks third behind the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference in who is most responsible for helping Penn State recover so quickly, and so impressively, from the devastation caused by the Jerry Sandusky child rape scandal.
Purdue 21, Iowa 17: Jeff Brohm moves ahead of Matt Campbell and Pat Fitzgerald on the list of head coaches that Iowa fans would prefer they take another job at a school that doesn't face Iowa on a regular basis.
Northwestern 25, Iowa: 24: With his team trailing 24-22, and with just 3 seconds remaining, the aforementioned Pat Fitzgerald wraps his arms around his starting kicker during a timeout and gives what appears to be a passionate pep talk on the sideline that ends with Fitzgerald on his knees and in tears at Kinnick Stadium. His kicker then makes a school-record 67-yard field goal to win the game and credits Fitzgerald for making him believe he could do it, and for reminding him how much Fitzgerald hates Iowa.
Iowa 41, Illinois 24: A half-empty stadium, a cold, dreary autumn afternoon and a tailgating atmosphere that leaves much to be desired, I’m predicting those three things, and a Hawkeye victory in Champaign.
Iowa 30, Nebraska 21: Cornhusker fans storm the field at Kinnick Stadium and carry Scott Frost on their shoulders to the locker room as a show of thanks for making the series somewhat competitive again.
So there you have it, 8-4, which would be enough to keep the program from moving in the wrong direction under Ferentz, but not enough to be anything special, especially with me picking Iowa to lose three of its last five regular-season games, and with Iowa coming off back-to-back 8-5 seasons.
A victory in a bowl game would make a big difference because it would mark the seventh time in 20 seasons under Ferentz that Iowa won at least nine games.