Iowa's odds of a 2-0 football start — something that is viewed as critical for a productive 2015 season — is slightly better than 50/50, according to projections assembled at ESPN.com.
The chart of game-by-game win percentages was being shared and discussed among Hawkeye fans Tuesday.
The website graded Iowa's chance at beating Illinois State in the Sept. 5 season opener at a generous 96.2 percent, followed by a 53.5 percent chance to win the following weekend at Iowa State. If both games are viewed as outcomes independent of one another, that computes to a 51.47-percent chance that the Hawkeyes start 2-0 — something that might rally fan interest to attend the Sept. 19, 7 p.m. home game against Pittsburgh.
ESPN thinks the Pitt game will be Iowa's toughest hurdle in achieving an unbeaten nonconference schedule — something Kirk Ferentz has done three times (going 4-0 in 2003, 2006 and 2009) in his 16 seasons as the Hawkeyes' head coach.
Iowa's chances to beat the Panthers are 40.1 percent — even though the Hawkeyes won at Pitt last season, 24-20, behind a rally from current starting quarterback C.J. Beathard. The Hawkeyes are given an 80.8 percent chance at beating North Texas, coached by former Hawkeye assistant and Iowa State head coach Dan McCarney, to close the nonconference season.
Plugging all four ESPN numbers into a calculator, Iowa's chances at a 4-0 start are 16.68 percent — or about one in six. And that's accounting for ESPN's assessment that Iowa's game against Illinois State, the 2014 FCS runner-up with an experienced quarterback in Tre Roberson, will be a near-certain victory.
Here are Iowa's game-by-game win probabilities, per ESPN, which by the way gives Iowa a 0.6 percent chance of winning a Big Ten Conference title:
Sept. 5 — vs. Illinois State (.962)
Sept. 12 — at Iowa State (.535)
Sept. 19 — vs. Pittsburgh (.401)
Sept. 26 — vs. North Texas (.808)
Oct. 3 — at Wisconsin (.235)
Oct. 10 — vs. Illinois (.558)
Oct. 17 — at Northwestern (.419)
Oct. 31 — vs. Maryland (.636)
Nov. 7 — at Indiana (.473)
Nov. 14 — vs. Minnesota (.498)
Nov. 21 — vs. Purdue (.598)
Nov. 27 — at Nebraska (.250)