What to know about the Iowa Hawkeyes' 2021 football schedule

Ben Yoder
Hawk Central

With Big Ten Media Days this week in Indianapolis, Iowa is one step closer to the start of the 2021 football season.

And while there may be some changes with this year's team, one thing that hasn't changed is Kirk Ferentz roaming the sidelines as the Hawkeyes' coach.

Ferentz is entering his 23rd season as Iowa's head coach, the longest tenure not only in the Big Ten but also the NCAA. With 168 career wins with the Hawkeyes, Ferentz is the university's winningest coach, and he's hoping to improve on last year's 6-2 season that ending abruptly with the cancelation of Music City Bowl vs. Missouri.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, last year's team didn't play nonconference games. Things will be more normal this year, and Iowa faces a full slate of nonconference foes, including a Cy-Hawk rematch with Matt Campbell's Iowa State Cyclones. 

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Here's a closer look at Iowa's 2021 football schedule:

Iowa vs. Indiana

What to know about matchup: Iowa has won the past three games against the Hoosiers, averaging just over 40 points while holding Indiana to an average of 24 points. The last time the Hawkeyes lost to the Hoosiers was 2012 and they've won seven of the past 10, dating back to the 2006 season. Iowa holds a 45-28-4 all-time advantage over Indiana. This year's game serves as both the Big Ten and season opener for the teams.

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Iowa at Iowa State

What to know about matchup: Iowa has not lost to Iowa State during the Matt Campbell era, beating the Cyclones by a point in the last matchup in 2019. Excluding Campbell's first Cy-Hawk game in the 2016 season, Iowa's combined margin of victory over three games is just 14 points, though, and Iowa State is likely a preseason top-10 team this year. Overall, Iowa has 45 wins to 22 losses in the series. The Hawkeyes have won the past five and seven of the past 10. This year's game will be aired on ABC.

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Iowa vs. Kent State

What to know about matchup: Iowa and Kent State don't have much history, having played only twice before. In 2001, the Hawkeyes shut out the Golden Flashes while scoring 51 points. In 2004, it was another Hawkeyes victory, with Iowa outscoring Kent State 39-7. Last year, Kent State went 3-1 in an abbreviated Mid-American Conference season.

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Iowa vs. Colorado State

What to know about matchup: This will be the first time Iowa and Colorado State have played. Last year, the Rams went 1-3 in the Mountain West in an abbreviated season. An Iowa win this year could be extra special because it's Family Weekend in Iowa City.

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Iowa at Maryland

What to know about matchup: It will be Friday Night Lights for Iowa vs. Maryland this year. The game, originally scheduled for Oct. 2, was moved to Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. and will air on FS1. Since Maryland joined the Big Ten, the Hawkeyes and Terps have faced each other three times, with Iowa winning the past two, 23-0 in 2018 and 31-15 in 2015. Maryland won the first game in 2014, 38-31. Last year, Maryland went 2-3.

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Iowa Hawkeyes running back Tyler Goodson (15) scores against the Penn State Nittany Lions Saturday, November 21, 2020 at Beaver Stadium in State College, PA. (Brian Ray/hawkeyesports.com)

Iowa vs. Penn State

What to know about matchup: Last year, Iowa snapped a six-game losing streak against Penn State with a 41-21 win in Iowa City. Iowa's defense generated four turnovers that accounted for 24 points, including a 71-yard pick six by Daviyon Nixon. Prior to last year's win, the Hawkeyes hadn't beaten the Nittany Lions since 2010. With 13 wins to 17 losses, Iowa trails Penn State in the series.

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Iowa vs. Purdue

What to know about matchup: It will be homecoming weekend in Iowa City when Iowa takes on Purdue. For a win, Iowa will need to contain star Purdue wide receiver David Bell, who caught 13 passes for 121 yards and three touchdowns against the Hawkeyes last year as a sophomore. His winning touchdown was set up a by an Iowa fumble. Iowa has lost three of the past four meetings, with the sole win coming in 2019 in Iowa City. In the past 10 matchups, Iowa has six wins to four losses. Purdue leads the series 49-39-3.

Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz gets his team ready for Wisconsin on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

Iowa at Wisconsin

What to know about matchup: Iowa beat Wisconsin last year, but the Badgers have owned the series of late, winning four of the past five and seven of the past 10. Iowa has not won back-to-back games against Wisconsin since the 2008 and 2009 seasons. This year, the Hawkeyes will travel up to Madison, where they haven't won since 2015, which was a 10-6 slugfest. Overall, Iowa trails in the series 44-48-2.

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Iowa vs. Northwestern

What to know about matchup: Last year, Iowa scored 17 points against Northwestern in the first quarter only to see the lead trimmed to 20-14 by halftime. In the second half, Northwestern got the only score, putting them up 21-20 for the win. The loss for the Hawkeyes was the fourth in the past five games against the Wildcats. Iowa leads the series 51-28-3

Iowa vs. Minnesota

What to know about matchup: Grab your black T-shirts: The battle for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy is a Black Out Game. For it to remain in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes will need to make it seven straight against Minnesota, after Iowa beat the Gophers for the sixth straight season last year. On four previous occasions, Iowa had a five-game winning streak against Minnesota, but the current one is the longest. Overall, Iowa has 50 wins to 62 losses and two ties in the series, but the Hawkeyes have won eight of the past 10 games.

Iowa vs. Illinois

What to know about matchup: Iowa, which has seven straight wins against Illiniois, has only lost to the Illini three times in the Kirk Ferentz era. Overall, Iowa trails in the series, with 36 wins, 38 losses and two ties. Last year, the defense was key in Iowa's 35-21 win at Illinois. This year's game in Iowa City will be senior day.

Iowa at Nebraska

What to know about matchup: Iowa has won six straight in the Heroes Game series, but it hasn't been easy with Scott Frost as Nebraska's coach. Last year, Iowa won 26-20 and the 2018 and 2019 games were decided by a field goal. Overall, Iowa trails in the series, with 19 wins against 29 losses. There have been three ties. Frost is still looking for his first win against Iowa as coach. This year's game in Lincoln will be on Black Friday.