Midseason review: Iowa

Iowa Hawkeyes

Record: 4-1 (1-0 Big Ten)

Aside from a shaky 30 minutes of football in the desert, Iowa has looked like the team most thought it would be entering the season. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, college football demands perfection, and a loss to Arizona essentially cropped Iowa from the national-title picture. The good news is Iowa looks very much like a team that can push Ohio State and others for the Big Ten championship and make its first trip to Pasadena since Jan. 1, 1991. Iowa's defense has been suffocating in its four victories, allowing just 17 points total. Adrian Clayborn looked like an All-American against Penn State, and one of the nation's best defensive lines is getting production from Mike Daniels, Karl Klug and others. Perhaps more importantly, senior quarterback Ricky Stanzi has cut down on mistakes and improved his efficiency, completing 67.8 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. Running back depth once again is a concern after Brandon Wegher's preseason departure and Jewel Hampton's season-ending knee injury, but Adam Robinson has held up so far. You can still argue that the road to the Big Ten title goes through Iowa City, as the Hawkeyes host Wisconsin (Oct. 23), Michigan State (Oct. 30) and Ohio State (Nov. 20) in the second half.

Offensive MVP, QB Ricky Stanzi: Stanzi's offseason points of emphasis -- limiting mistakes, making better decisions -- have paid off throughout the first half of the fall. His only pick-six wasn't his fault -- receiver Marvin McNutt should have made the play -- and Stanzi has delivered several near flawless performances. The senior has completed 82 of 121 attempts (67.8 percent) for 1,226 yards with 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

Defensive MVP, DE Adrian Clayborn: It took until the Penn State game for Clayborn to put up Clayborn-like numbers (team-high 10 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack), but his presence has been huge throughout the first half. The senior constantly draws double teams, freeing up other linemen like Daniels and Klug to make plays. An honorable mention goes to Daniels, who is third in the league in sacks (3) and tied for second in tackles for loss (8).