IOWA CITY — ESPN college football announcer Kirk Herbstreit had some biting comments on the Iowa football program two years ago, but the former Ohio State quarterback since has altered his take on the Hawkeyes entering this season.
When Northern Illinois qualified for the Orange Bowl in 2012, Herbstreit declared “Iowa is the worst team in the Big Ten,” and he referenced how the Hawkeyes beat the Huskies that year. But entering this year, Herbstreit listed Iowa as a team that could move into contention for a College Football Playoff spot. That’s quite a change from the Big Ten basement to contending for one of the nation’s top four teams.
“No. 1, I’m a fan of Kirk Ferentz and his coaching philosophy and style,” Herbstreit said in a conference call Tuesday. “It’s a team that I think, even though they lost to LSU (21-14 in the Outback Bowl), the way they played in that game probably created some confidence for them moving forward.
“You have a couple of experienced quarterbacks moving forward, which is big. I think they’re always going to be able to run the football with that offensive line. I think they’re going to be better at the tailback. You’ve got to replace the leadership of the linebackers they’ve lost with those three guys, who were outstanding players.”
Herbstreit also referenced the familiar narrative of Iowa’s schedule. The Hawkeyes don’t face Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan or Penn State. Nebraska, Wisconsin and Northwestern play in Iowa City.
“At the end of the day I look at Iowa with all those positives and you look at that schedule ... most of the teams that are expected to compete in the Big Ten West are coming to Kinnick Stadium,” Herbstreit said. “So I just think they’re one of the teams that doesn’t get a lot of attention and when you have an experienced quarterback with a schedule like that, things tend to work out for a team like Iowa. I just got my eye on them, and I think they’ve got a shot to have a great year.”
©2014 The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Distributed by MCT Information Services