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Iowa football: Hawks receive high preseason ranking – FanSided

The Iowa football looks to build off a successful 9-4 season. Pro Football Focus has the Hawkeyes ranked inside the top 10 in their preseason rankings.

After beating Mississippi State in the Outback Bowl last season, the Iowa football team was ranked number 25 in the final AP Poll. They lost both Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson to the NFL Draft but that is not stopping Pro Football Focus from ranking the Hawkeyes inside their preseason Top 10.

PFF has the Hawks at number 10 to be exact, just behind Washington and in front of Penn State.

The second Big 10 team in the top 10 returns some firepower to their top-10 defense, as well as multiple-season starter Nate Stanley at quarterback. Their 5-4 Big 10 record last season was an aberration and might lead to them being a value in betting markets early in the 2019 season. A.J. Epenesa, with 80 total pressures the last two seasons, has the potential to be one of the nation’s best defensive players.- PFF

PFF is high on the Hawkeyes defense and rightfully so. They should be a top 10 defense again, but the big question mark this year will be offensive firepower. There’s no doubt that Nate Stanley relied heavily upon both Fant and Hockenson, so he’ll need to find new targets this year.

Junior wide receivers Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette are back and the offensive could get a big boost if junior transfer Oliver Martin can find a loophole in the NCAA transfer rules to avoid sitting out a year.

The running game should be a strength led by 2018 leading rusher Mekhi Sargent and backed by both Toren Young and Ivory-Kelly Martin. Stanley will have to take the next step in his final season at Iowa for the Hawkeyes to be successful this season. If he regresses from last year, the Hawkeyes will likely find themselves with an 8-4 or 7-5 finish.

However, the sky is the limit if he puts it all together. He has the arm strength and the Hawkeyes are ready to take off in 2019.

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