Iowa will avoid both Ohio State and Wisconsin this season but has to travel to Legends Division rivals Michigan State on Oct. 13 and then Michigan on Nov. 17. The Hawkeyes also scheduled themselves a rather difficult non-conference slate including a season-opener against MAC champion Northern Illinois followed by a home game vs. Iowa State.
Iowa is one of only two Big Ten schools (Ohio State) to not play back-to-back conference home games. The Hawkeyes finished 7-6 last season (4-4 Big Ten record) but return only nine starters from both sides of the ball. Senior James Vandenberg, one of the only pro-style quarterbacks in the league, will need receivers Keenan Davis (50 receptions, 713 yards) and Kevonte Martin-Manley (30 receptions, 323 yards) to fill the gap left by Marvin McNutt, who left Iowa with several receiving records.
Must-see game: Iowa State, Sept. 8
Last year's rivalry game turned into one of the best college football games of the season when the Cyclones shocked Iowa 44-41 in triple overtime. The two teams combined for more than 800 yards of total offense and the Iowa State win snapped a three-game Hawkeye winning streak in the series. RB Marcus Coker had 140 yards rushing but has very little depth at the position heading into this season.
Upset alert: at Northwestern, Oct. 27
The Hawkeyes can ill-afford to lose this game if they want to improve on their 4-4 conference record from last season. In last season's meeting, the Hawkeyes managed a 41-31 victory over the Wildcats at home but they should be weary of do-it-all QB Kain Colter. The Hawkeyes return only three starters on defense from a unit that ranked 62nd in the country in rushing yards allowed. Colter threw for 44 yards and a touchdown, rushed for 76 yards, and had six catches for 71 yards in Northwestern's first loss to Iowa in three years.
The Hawkeyes haven't lost to either of these two teams since 2007 (lost to both) and have gone 5-0 in subsequent seasons. The 45 points Iowa posted against Indiana last season tied a season-high for points scored.
Brutal stretch: Nov. 17 through Nov. 23 – at Michigan, vs. Nebraska
The Hawkeyes have to travel to Ann Arbor and then host Nebraska to close out the regular season. Even worse is that the Hawkeyes get the Huskers on a short week, just six days after facing the Wolverines. The Hawkeyes have actually had substantial success against Michigan, winning three in a row dating back to 2006.
Sept. 1: Northern Illinois in Chicago
Sept. 8: Iowa State
Sept. 15: Northern Iowa
Sept. 22: Central Michigan
Sept. 29: Minnesota
Oct. 13: at Michigan State
Oct. 20: Penn State
Oct. 27: at Northwestern
Nov. 3: at Indiana
Nov. 10: Purdue
Nov. 17: at Michigan
Nov. 23: Nebraska
For more Big Ten coverage, follow Mike Singer and Dave Carey @CBSSportsBigTen.