Iowa Hawkeyes

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Bovada continues to tap Alabama as 2017 title favorite

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When last we left Bovada.lv‘s odds for the 2017 national champion, 2016 runners-up Alabama sat atop the initial wagering odds.  On the cusp of a new season?  Same old, same old.  Pretty much.

Along with its updated Heisman Trophy odds, Bovada also revealed its updated odds to win the next edition of the College Football Playoff championship, with the Crimson Tide sitting as a comfortable favorite at 12/5.  In January, those odds were a little longer at 4/1.

The next two teams, USC and Ohio State, saw their odds shorten as well, with the former going from 9/1 to 6/1 and the latter from 15/2 to 13/2.  Florida State and Michigan, at 7/1 and 9/1, respectively, seven months ago, have lengthened a bit to 15/2 for the Seminoles and 16/1 for the Wolverines.

Prior to Bob Stoops’ retirement, Oklahoma had been at 9/1; after his abrupt departure, those odds have tumbled to 16/1.

Below are the complete set of updated 2017 national championship odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv.

Lacking options at WR, Iowa looking to play two or three RBs at the same time this season

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Iowa’s passing offense has been, um… interesting for the past several years now and many around the program are curious to see if offseason changes following the retirement of Greg Davis as offensive coordinator will help inject any life into the Hawkeyes’ aerial attack.

While most expect only a few new wrinkles with Brian Ferentz taking over as playcaller, personnel losses at quarterback and wide receiver may hamper the effectiveness of the team no matter what Iowa tries to do differently. After all, Matt VandeBerg is the only Hawkeye to have caught a pass for the team and the addition of New Mexico transfer Matt Quarells means only two receivers have a reception at the FBS level period. Oh, and they’re breaking in a new quarterback for 2017.

The team’s solution? It appears to involve utilizing the one position where depth is no question by putting two — or even three — running backs on the field at the same time.

“Maybe because you are a running back you don’t have to line up in a traditional running back spot. I think we need to be open to guys playing different spots and moving around a little bit and find ways to get them the ball in that manner,” the younger Ferentz told Landof10.com on Saturday. “I could see us playing with three running backs on the field. If three running backs are our best option to win a football game we are going to get them on the field somehow. Three guys in the backfield, maybe no guys in the backfield. If we felt like having four receivers on the field was the best thing for us to win, then we’ll find a way to do that.”

The Hawkeyes already have two 1,000 yard rushers in the backfield with returning starter Akrum Wadley and Nevada graduate transfer James Butler. Add in sophomore Toks Akinribade and a number of options at fullback and you can start to see why it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see a few formations trot out three running backs in order to get something going in the passing game.

Ferentz held the title of run game coordinator last season prior to his promotion to OC so it makes plenty of sense he’ll get all of the tailbacks more involved in the passing game as is. In doing so, he’ll be playing perfectly into Iowa’s recent offensive reputation at the same time even if things do pan out this fall.

After leaving New Mexico, WR Matt Quarells lands at Iowa

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Just prior to the start of summer camp, Iowa’s receiving corps has been unexpectedly bolstered.

Speaking at the Mountain West Conference’s version of media days, Bob Davie revealed that Matt Quarells has decided to leave his New Mexico football program.  Not only that, the Lobos head coach revealed the wide receiver’s destination — the Hawkeyes.

“He’s a great kid, and I hate to lose him,” Davie said according to the Albuquerque Journal. “But I think Iowa’s a good fit for him.”

A native of St. Louis, Quarells wanted to finish up his playing career closer to home, his now-former coach added.

As a graduate transfer, Quarells will be able to contribute in the Hawkeyes’ passing game this season.  Not only that, but the rising junior can play in 2018 as well as he has two years of eligibility remaining.

After catching two passes for 23 yards as a redshirt freshman in 2015, he caught 11 for 180 yards and a touchdown last season.  The lone score was a 62-yarder in the season-opening win over South Dakota.  He caught a career-high five passes two weeks later in a nine-point loss to Rutgers.

Jim Delany announces Big Ten’s new six-year deal with ESPN and FOX; BTN heading to Hulu and YouTube

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As the Big Ten opened up its media day event in Chicago, commissioner Jim Delany brought with him an announcement regarding the future of the conference’s television package. Delany announced the Big Ten has reached a deal on a restructured television package with broadcast partners ESPN, FOX and CBS Sports (for basketball) and an extended deal with Big Ten Network that runs through 2032. And he had more to share a swell.

The exact terms of this new deal have not been disclosed at this time, but it would stand to reason the Big Ten will continue to turn a nice profit through their deals with both ESPN and FOX (and CBS Sports for basketball).

But Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman had some other news to share as well.

In addition to a new six-year contract with ESPN and FOX for regular season coverage of football (and FOX with the Big Ten Championship Game), Delany also announced the Big Ten Network will be heading to Hulu and YouTube TV, making the network more accessible to those consumers who continue to cut the cord on their TV providers. While there are still plenty of cable subscribers available to reach and the majority of TV viewers are still using cable to watch their TV, the trends are more and more leaning toward the cord-cutting methods.

Big Ten Network will be adding a handful of former Big Ten stars to its football coverage; James Laurinaitis, Braylon Edwards, and Corey Wootton. Big Ten Network, now in its 10th year of operation since launching as the first conference-branded network, will also be creating content for regional sports outlets, like an Ohio State show on SportsTime Ohio. The BTN will also work with ESPN to air a special series following new Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck and BTN’s Big Ten Elite program will chronicle the 2016 Big Ten champions, Penn State.

Big Ten media poll picks Ohio State to win league, Wisconsin to capture West Division

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The Big Ten conference office turns their nose up at doing an official media poll to pick the winner of the league like all of their other peers in college football but the fine folks over at Cleveland.com have been filling in the gap for the past several years so fans, coaches and others can get a sense at which teams are the favorites to hoist the trophy at the end of the year.

The site just released the latest edition of their annual media poll and (surprise, surprise) Ohio State was picked by 29 of the 38 voters to win the Big Ten this season, including 34 first-place votes for the Buckeyes to capture the rugged East Division title. Penn State drew seven first place votes while Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan squad received just one person’s confidence in winning the division.

Wisconsin was the heavy favorite to represent the West in Indianapolis with 31 first place votes, followed by Northwestern (five) and Nebraska (two). Fittingly,  22 media members from around the league picked the Buckeyes to beat the Badgers in the conference championship game, compared to just three who reversed the outcome. Not surprisingly, 34 of the 38 voters said at least one Big Ten team will make this year’s College Football Playoff, with Ohio State being the overwhelming pick to represent the league with 26 votes.

A word of warning however as Cleveland.com notes that the poll has never successfully picked the Big Ten winner in six preseason polls and Ohio State has only ever won the conference when they were not the choice by the media.