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Big Ten Football Countdown: No. 10 Iowa

Iowa has fallen into football irregularity as they are looking towards another mediocre season.

2012 was a an unusually bad year for long time Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz as his Hawkeyes started out hot, with a 4-2 record, only to see his team lose six straight and become bowl ineligible for just the 4th time in his 15 year career at Iowa. Iowa couldn't close the gap on several of their games last year, as five of their losses were by just 3 points or less. A strong returning core on defense sets the tone for an Iowa comeback that will only be stifled by their uncertainty at quarterback. The loss of senior QB James Vanderberg may be too much for the offense to overcome in 2013. QB Jake Rudock seems to be the favorite to start in 2013 and lead an offense that returns many of the tools that could make or break Iowa's 2013 campaign.

2012 Record: 4-8 (2-6)

Returning Starters: 16 (6 OFF, 8 DEF, 2 ST)

Key Losses on Offense: C James Ferentz, OG Matt Tobin, QB James Vanderberg, WR Keenan Davis, TE Zach Derby

Key Losses on Defense: DE Steve Bigach, CB Greg Castillo, CB Micah Hyde

Head Coach: Kirk Ferentz : 100-74 (15th Year)

Strength: Defense

For a team that went 4-8 in 2013, the Hawkeyes had one the best defense in the nation. In 2013, Iowa ranked 33rd overall in points allowed with about 23 per game. The defensive line returns a quality bunch with DE Dominic Alvis (31 TOT), DT Carl Davis (14 TOT) and DT Darian Cooper (34 TOT) all returning do a rush defense that ranked 63rd in the country with just 162.08 yards allowed per game. Iowa will be strong at Linebacker as LB Christian Kirksey (95 TOT), LB Anthony Hitchens (124 TOT) and LB James Morris (113 TOT) all return. The Iowa Secondary may need slight works as just CB B.J. Lowrey (50 TOT) and S Tanner Miller (69 TOT) return to a pass defense that ranked 44th in the country with 219.5 passing yards per game.

Weakness/Questions: Quarterback

Iowa got little production out of QB James Vanderberg who had passed 800 yards fewer than the year before. The favorite to take over for Vanderberg will be QB Jake Rudock. Rudock is a bit of an unknown, a sophomore from Florida who went 18 for 29 passing with 174 yards in Iowa's spring game. Rudock's top two targets will be returning starters WR Kevonte Martin-Manley (571 yds. 2 TD) and TE C.J. Fiedorowicz (433 yds. 1 TD). Rudock will be passing the ball of to RB Mark Weisman (815 yds. 8 TD) and RB Damon Bullock (513 yds. 3 TD). Rudock has the tools necessary to succeed, the question will be rather if he can use them or not.

Projected Record: 4-8 (1-7)

Bowl Game: None