Best case-worst case rewind: Iowa

The best case-worst case rewind continues with ... Iowa.

In case you missed it: Iowa's best case-worst case.

Best-case synopsis: Iowa picks up where it left off last fall, overcomes a brutal road schedule and shows improvement on both sides of the ball. The team's young running backs fill in after the loss of Shonn Greene, and an improved pass rush helps a playmaking defense slow down opponents. Iowa goes 3-2 on the road, including an upset of Penn State, reaches the top 15 and finishes 10-2 before going on to a win against LSU in the Capital One Bowl.

Worst-case synopsis: The personnel losses combined with the rough road schedule proves too much for Iowa, which tumbles to a 5-7 finish. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi throws too many interceptions but gets little help from a Greene-less run game. Iowa struggles with injuries and doesn't many nearly as many plays on defense. Iowa goes 0-5 away from Kinnick Stadium and drops home contests against Northwestern and Minnesota. Off-field problems continue to hurt the program.

You can't handle the truth: (quotes from the original post) "The Hawkeyes pave the road in black and gold, the defensive line holds together and 'Stanzi is the Manzi' T-shirts are worn all across the state." ... "Wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos gets the message after his depth-chart demotion." ... "The defense misses tackles Mitch King and Matt Kroul, but an improved pass rush combined with more playmaking from linebacker Pat Angerer, safety Tyler Sash, cornerback Amari Spievey and others more than makes up for it." ... "Iowa then ruins Mike Stoops' homecoming and takes care of Arizona." ... "Iowa doesn't flinch in front of the 'Whiteout' crowd, upsetting the Nittany Lions." ... "Stanzi records double digits in picks." ... "The season begins with a too-close-for-comfort win against Northern Iowa." ... "Iowa recovers against Indiana but drops its third consecutive home game to Northwestern." ... "[Bryan] Bulaga and Spievey bolt for the NFL."

Lies, lies, lies: "Running backs Jewel Hampton and Jeff Brinson find plenty of daylight." ... "The Hawkeyes easily handle Northern Iowa in the opener." ... "Stanzi makes sure the team avoids a letdown against Arkansas State." ... "Iowa overcomes its recent demons against Northwestern." ... "After squeaking by Arizona, Iowa heads to Happy Valley and pays the price for last year's upset at Kinnick Stadium. Penn State rolls the Hawkeyes by 20 points, giving Nittany Nation bragging rights on the Big Ten blog." ... "A bowl-bound Minnesota team then comes to Kinnick Stadium and rolls to a win." ... "The run defense crumbles without King and Kroul." ... "Left tackle Bryan Bulaga returns for his senior season."

Reality check: Iowa actually exceeded the best-case scenario, not only going 10-2 but reaching the FedEx Orange Bowl rather than the Capital One Bowl. A win against Georgia Tech capped a storybook season for the Hawkeyes, who overcame tons of adversity and went 4-1 on the road, including wins in State College and Madison. Stanzi was a mixed bag, throwing 14 interceptions in the first three quarters of games but coming up huge in the fourth. The defense continued its playmaking ways as end Adrian Clayborn became a superstar. The Hawkeyes restored themselves among the Big Ten's elite and set up a potential league title push in 2010.