While Iowa's record dropped to 8-5 last season after their Rose Bowl appearance the year before, their defense remained among the nation's elite ranking 15th in the nation according to Bill Connelly's numbers at SB Nation. While they lost CB Desmond King and DT Jaleel Johnson to the NFL Draft, they return one of the most experienced units in the conference and enough talent to send a couple more players to the draft next April. Iowa's recent successful seasons have been built around a strong run game and a solid defense, and those two elements of their team look strong heading into 2017.

DL

As mentioned earlier DT Jaleel Johnson will be suiting up for the Vikings next season, but the Hawkeyes return four D-Linemen who played significant snaps last season.

Defensive end Anthony Nelson had an outstanding freshman year racking up 6 sacks and 8 tackles for loss, and he has a promising future ahead of him at Iowa.

Parker Hesse wreaked havoc at the other defensive end position sacking the QB 3.5 times with 7.5 TFL's. The Hawkeyes also return DE Matt Nelson and nose tackle Nathan Bazata who both excelled against the run in 2016.

LB

The Hawkeyes have developed a reputation for producing some of the nation's best linebackers, and they have another great one in josey jewell who totaled 124 tackles with 6 TFL's and 9 passes defended last season. Their trio of senior linebackers includes Ben Niemann and Bo Bower who round out possibly the best linebacking corps in the conference.

DB

Iowa lost a dynamic cornerback in Desmond King this offseason, and they'll have trouble replacing him with a crop of inexperienced cornerbacks. Sophomore Manny Rugamba and junior Joshua Jackson will need to take on larger roles in 2017 after being rotational CB's last season.

Brandon Snyder earned the starting safety position as a sophomore last season, and he made the most of it.

Snyder proved himself as a big-time playmaker snagging 3 interceptions with 4 passes defended, 2 fumble recoveries, and 3 forced fumbles to go along with 3 TFL's.

His fellow starting safety senior Myles Taylor also returns as he's held down a starting spot in the secondary for the past two seasons.

Kirk Ferentz's game plan is simple: control the ball on offense, and play suffocating defense.

RB Akrum Wadley and a dominant offensive line should be able to get the job done on offense, and Josey Jewell and company are ready to give opposing offensive coordinators headaches.

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