The “totally irrelevant prediction” launched on Twitter in 2015 and evolved into a weekly column in 2017. That 12-0 start to 2015 was a key factor in its initial success, but nailing the first prophecy in 2017 using a simulation of NCAA Football 2004 made it legendary. Yes, the 24-3 Iowa-Wyoming prediction to open that year ended up engraved on the brick walls of Kinnick Stadium by the start of the next season. With 2020’s uncertainty, the column was put on hold, but I found a new outlet to expand my Hawkeyes commentary for the 2021 season.









Back to tweets only












It seems the Holiday Bowl was to Hayden Fry what the Outback Bowl is to Kirk Ferentz. Neither would turn down the chance to play in their favorite warm destination — or perhaps second-favorite. Growing up, the Holiday Bowl seemed like a worthy consolation prize to the Rose Bowl, often matching Big Ten and west coast teams just like the Grandaddy of Them All a short drive up I-5. Just swap the Pac for the WAC and Pasadena for San Diego. Simple with a side of sizzle. 
Fry and the Hawks never lost a Holiday Bowl, going 2-0-1 with two one-point wins over San Diego State and Wyoming in 1986 and 1987, respectively, and finishing in a 13-13 tie with Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer and BYU in 1991. That game shook my interest in college football for a time — after all, there were only four more bowls in all of the 1990s for the Hawks (2-2) — and it became my job to design newspapers highlighting the lowlights. (However, a proud moment was seeing my

Hayden Fry retirement special section

being passed around again this week in all of its 1998 glory.)

My love of college football probably didn’t return fully until 2002 when

my talents took me to South Beach

and I represented the Hawkeyes on a weekly basis to a newsroom full of Miami, Syracuse and various other non-Iowa fans as a rare Midwesterner in my first year at CBS SportsLine in Fort Lauderdale. This Holiday Bowl completes my latest stint of 10 consecutive football seasons of Hawkeyes coverage in some form or another — first with Hawkmania, a site I helped create in 2000, and now with Hawkeye Headquarters. But it’s only been in the past two seasons that I’ve really been able to appreciate how Kirk works. Getting to talk to players after every game home and road, they believe in the system. They believe if they execute on every play, they’ll get back in it, no matter the odds. No matter what crushing blow sent the fans online into a tailspin. They never get too high or too low. I’m here to encourage the fans with those tendencies to embrace that approach … and this team. It doesn’t take much to knock some fans off the bandwagon. The old joke is that after every game Hawkeyes fans would scream “Big Ten champs” or “fire everyone” depending on the outcome. Turns out, I found there are some that don’t wait that long. I always wanted to “like” all of the negative tweets I’d see during one game and post them after a win. Almost a Freezing Cold Takes in real time. But I never did. Hawkeyes twitter is a welcoming community, after all. No need to alienate them. However, one particular fan stood out to me during this year’s Wisconsin game.

If the Hawkeyes are up 3-0 on Wisconsin in the first quarter of a game in Madison and you’re that mad, maybe being an Iowa fan just isn’t for you. I mean, if you aren’t happy in that moment as a Hawkeyes fan, when will you ever be? Perhaps up 12 in the second half of a basketball game in Ames? 

Nope. Throwing in the towel. Same energy.  Same guy. (And they won that one!) My point is not to throw this fan under the bus. It’s to remind everyone to enjoy the ride a little bit more. It’s

part of the journey. The end

isn’t everything. The 2019 Hawkeyes deserve appreciation for what they’ve accomplished, despite any shortcomings that appeared on a game-by-game basis. The 2002 Hawkeyes, they are not. Those Hawks and USC staged a Rose Bowl in Miami and called it an Orange Bowl for me and 70,000 of my closest friends during my time at CBS Sports. Walking into the convention center in Miami Beach and seeing what seemed like the entire state of Iowa having a pep rally is something I’ll never forget. I like to say we tailgated all day, celebrated C.J. Jones returning the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and none of us remember anything else.


we remember. We remember all of it

  • A good friend, my cousin and his good friend crashing in my studio apartment
  • Visiting the CBS suite because the powers-that-be found me club level tickets that day after I put in a “claim” the day the bowl was announced as the only Iowa fan
  • Leaving that suite just as the national anthem ended because I knew only one guy in there — my boss — and they were all in suits and we — well, you’ve seen my Twitter profile picture
  • And of course, letting a tie game at halftime get out of hand with 28 consecutive Trojan points. 

I’m reminded of it every time I fire up NCAA Football 2004 on the PS2 for the totally irrelevant prediction before every Iowa game the past five seasons. Because there’s USC quarterback Carson Palmer (303 yards, 1 TD) in the wake of his 38-17 win …

all up on the cover, all over the intro screen… throwing

.  Still, it’s between that 2002 Iowa team and 2015 for my favorite this century. (For whatever reason I felt detached from the 2004-2009 teams while living in Chicago, even though I got back to Iowa City for more games.) And this year’s team is right up there, since I’ve been able to cover every game.  That 10th win in a highly respected bowl full of nostalgia would make it a season for the books,

just like Michael Ojemudia says it would

. These Hawkeyes have just three losses by a total of 14 points, all to teams ranked higher. Would it have been nice to sneak out of Ann Arbor or Madison with a win? Of course, the Wolverines and Badgers were there for the taking, but the truth is this is a rare season with no bad losses. Not one. They also can be the first Iowa team since those 1991 fit-to-be-tied Holiday Bowl Hawkeyes to go wire-to-wire in the AP Top 25. So even though last year’s team had a chance to be really special with all of those NFL draft picks — imagine if they were back — this year’s team can make a significant mark of their own. Support them… until the game is won. Epilogue Speaking of support and making a mark… On a personal note, I want to thank

Adam Rossow

, the quarterback of Hawkeye Headquarters, and

Dan Vasko

, the ”

guy in the chair

,” who most Saturdays was handling things back at the studio while we were in Ames or State College or somewhere on I-80 hoping to not fall asleep.

Dan’s contract ended on Black Friday. Both Adam’s and my contracts expire before next football season. You never know what will happen between now and the September 5, 2020 kickoff at Kinnick against Northern Iowa, but I am extremely proud of what we have done in three seasons at Hawkeye Headquarters. I’ve worked in newsrooms big (Chicago Tribune, CBS Sports) and small (Elgin Courier News, Bettendorf News) and I’d take these guys on my team in any one of them. Talented journalists and solid people. They’ve done great work and their best is still ahead of them. I think I hear the orchestra playing me off, so I will see some of you in San Diego. But one last thing: Orange you glad it isn’t the Outback Bowl again? (Make no mistake: Kirk isn’t.) Happy Holiday Bowl! For the final time in 2019: Let’s get to the picks.

We are so thankful to have our predictions this year on Hawkeye Headquarters brought to you by 

Draft Day Sports Lounge inside Rhythm City Casino

, “where you can grab a bite and make live bets!” Celebrity prediction The Hawkeyes’ all-time leader in receptions is back for a third season of picks.

Kevonte Martin-Manley:

 Iowa 27, USC 17 Featured predictions


Steve Batterson:

 Iowa 24, USC 21. Kedon Slovis can sling it with the best of them, but Iowa’s defense has shown over the course of the season it is more than capable of slowing productive offenses. USC will find that out Friday. The Trojans will make some plays, but expect A.J. Epenesa and Chauncey Golston up front and Michael Ojemudia and Geno Stone on the back end to deny Southern Cal. If Iowa can gain a little traction on the ground, expect the foot of Keith Duncan to once again make the ultimate difference as the Hawkeyes reach the 10-win mark for the first time since 2015.

Hawkeye Headquarters

Adam Rossow:

 Iowa 24, USC 23

Dan Vasko:

 Iowa 28, USC 24
National predictions

Athlon Sports

Steven Lassan: Iowa Mitch Light: USC Mark Ross: USC

CBS Sports

Dennis Dodd: Iowa Jerry Palm: Iowa Tom Fornelli: USC Chip Patterson: USC Barton Simmons: Iowa Barrett Sallee: USC Ben Kercheval: Iowa

Fox Sports

Iowa 30, USC 28

Bleacher Report

Jake Rill: Iowa

Associated Press

Ralph D. Russo: USC 26, Iowa 23

Sporting News

Bill Bender: USC 34, Iowa 27


Chris Hummer: USC 27, Iowa 21 Brad Crawford: USC 31, Iowa 27


Cam Mellor: USC Gordon McGuinness: USC Mike Renner: USC Shannon Ford: Iowa Austin Gayle: USC Russell: USC Steve Palazzolo: USC Brown: Iowa

The Athletic

Bruce Feldman: USC 31, Iowa 23 Stewart Mandel: Iowa 31, USC 27


Bill Connelly

: Iowa 28, USC 26

Adam Rittenberg

: Iowa 33, USC 31 Hawkeye State predictions

The Gazette

Marc Morehouse: Iowa 27, USC 24

Hawk Central

Chad Leistikow: Iowa 30, USC 27

Hawkeye Nation

Rob Howe: Iowa 26, USC 24 #IowaSim19

Cody Hills:

 Iowa 23, USC 17 Irrelevant prediction


And finally, the totally irrelevant prediction based on playing EA Sports’ NCAA Football 2004 on a PS2, as is the tradition since 2015. Ryan Jaster: Hawkeyes 47, USC 14. Long touchdown passes (44, 39) hurt the Hawkeyes in the first half, but they counter with short touchdown runs (1, 2) and end up tied at the break. The Iowa defense shuts down the passing leaks, shuts out the Trojans, records five sacks and forces four fumbles in the second half, helping lead the Hawks to 3 TDs, 4 FGs (if that happens IRL that’s a Keith Duncan record) and a commanding win in San Diego. USC ends up with more offense, despite having negative rushing yards, but the Hawkeyes had such great field position in the second half, they didn’t need yards. Points came easy.

Prognosis: This season hasn’t been easy. The Hawkeyes told us they like to keep it sticky. And maybe it will play out that way — at first. But I think this team is better than they get credit for, will get an extra push from Hayden Fry and pull away from USC the same way the Trojans did 17 years ago at the Orange Bowl in Miami. Others expect


— mostly national experts this week due to the timing of the bowl — but I don’t. This will serve as another signature moment for Kirk Ferentz… and maybe even an exclamation point.

Predictions on Hawkeye Headquarters are brought to you by 

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, “where you can grab a bite and make live bets!”

For more Hawkeye coverage, follow 



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 — and sign up for our pregame and postgame newsletter

. All you need is an email address and we’ll send you a newsletter every Friday and Monday during football season. Ryan Jaster, born and raised in Rock Island, writes a weekly predictions column during football season for

 and previously wrote and edited for 

CBS Sports

, the 

Quad-City Times

 and the 

Chicago Tribune

. You can follow his Hawkeye musings at 


My “totally irrelevant” prediction was launched in 2015 — and had a 12-0 start, just like the Hawkeyes — but never in all of my years of predicting games — any Bears fans remember these on — have I seen my forecasted score on the board at the end of the game. Until Saturday. Maybe within a point or two, but never exact. So after Iowa’s 24-3 victory to open 2017, the stakes are raised. How do you follow that up? Well, with an overwhelming number of expert picks. I’ve collected as many as I can here, with a few of Hawkeye Headquarters’ friends and family featured below and many more insider insights available at their links. (Always click every link.)   Featured predictions Hawkeye Headquarters Adam Rossow: Iowa 24, Iowa State 20 The warning signs are there for an Iowa State upset. The Hawkeyes have a quarterback making his first road start in a hostile environment. On the other side of the ball, the Cyclones have experienced playmakers at running back and wide receiver, which could create some matchup problems with Iowa’s linebackers and defensive backs alike. Still, the Hawkeyes defense has been stingy since being throttled against Penn State last season. They’ve kept every opponent under 23 points (Florida had a pick-six in the Outback Bowl) and abused Josh Allen and Wyoming in the opener. This should be a great early litmus test for both teams, and one that will probably be decided in the fourth quarter. Dan Vasko: Iowa 31, Iowa State 17 Jay Kidwell: Iowa 28, Iowa State 21

Hawkmania Steve Batterson: Iowa 24, Iowa State 20 The difference begins close to the football, where the experience of the Hawkeyes on the lines on both sides of the ball will decide what should be an entertaining football game. Matt Campbell’s Cyclones will make strides in his second season and will certainly test the Hawkeyes with the skill of lanky receivers Allen Lazard and Hakeem Butler. Expect Iowa to counter with the strength of its running game. The more touches Akrum Wadley and James Butler get, the more likely it is the Hawkeyes will take home a win from Jack Trice Stadium.

National predictions Sports Illustrated Andy Staples: Iowa Bruce Feldman: Iowa State Chris Johnson: Iowa Joan Niesen: Iowa Eric Single: Iowa Molly Geary: Iowa Scooby Axson: Iowa SBNation Bill Connelly: Iowa State 28, Iowa 27 Athlon Sports Steven Lassan: Iowa Mitch Light: Iowa Bryan Fischer: Iowa State Robert A. Boleyn: Iowa 17, Iowa State 7 ESPN Dan Murphy: Iowa 20, Iowa State 9 Mitch Sherman: Iowa State 17, Iowa 14 Tom VanHaaren:  Iowa 24, Iowa State 13 Hawkeye State predictions Land of 10 Scott Dochterman: Iowa 31, Iowa State 17 Bobby La Gesse: Iowa 27, Iowa State 21 The Gazette Dylan Montz: Iowa 28, Iowa State 21 Marc Morehouse: Iowa 27, Iowa State 17 Hawk Central Chad Leistikow: Iowa 28, Iowa State 20 Go Iowa Awesome Mark Hasty: Iowa 27, Iowa State 26  AllHawkeyes Pat Harty: Iowa State 24, Iowa 23 Tyler Devine: Iowa 17, Iowa State 14 Dylan Burn: Iowa 28, Iowa State 24 Tyler Luebke: Iowa 27, Iowa State 10 Hawkeye Nation Rob Howe: Iowa 23, Iowa State 17 Jon Miller:  Iowa State Sean Neugent: Iowa 40, Iowa State 17 David Schwartz: Iowa State Mitch Smith: Iowa Hawkeye Report Mike Zierath: Iowa 21, Iowa State 17 Tom Kakert: Iowa 13, Iowa State 10 Blair Sanderson: Iowa 34, Iowa State 20 Torbee: Iowa 31, Iowa State 20 RDietz: Iowa Lyle Hammes: Iowa State 27, Iowa 24 Matt Randazzo: Iowa 17, Iowa State 13  BlackHeartGoldPants Max Brekke: Iowa 31, Iowa State 10 BoilerHawk: Iowa 24, Iowa State 20 JP Scott: Iowa, 28, Iowa State 6  JPinIC: Iowa 27, Iowa State 17 Hello Jerry: Iowa 30, Iowa State 24 Matt Cabel: Iowa 28, Iowa State 24 Benjamin Ross: Iowa 31, Iowa State 10 Jordan Hansen: Iowa  Rob Donaldson: Iowa 31, Iowa State 17 Simulation Cody Hills: Iowa 38, Iowa State 14 Irrelevant prediction @Hawkologist Ryan Jaster: Hawkeyes 29, Iowa State 0. How do you follow up a “perfect” prediction? Perhaps with a knockout punch to a rival. The Cyclones’ lone threat in this simulation was intercepted in the endzone. We know the Hawkeyes defense looks solid, but if this shutout comes true, expectations for Iowa this season — not to mention me and my NCAA 2004 PS2’s football forecasts — will be next to, but not through, the roof. Prognosis: More positive than expected, perhaps due in part to last week’s outcome. After Wyoming was a popular national upset pick last week, those pundits stayed away from the Iowa game this week for the most part. The split is close to the same as last week, with a couple more votes the Hawkeyes’ way, actually. The scores are generally lower, but as anyone around for the 9-6 Cy-Hawk snoozer that followed a 44-41 thriller knows… anything goes when it comes to the ‘Clones. Predicting isn’t easy. The pain index lands at the exact same place on the scale.

For more Hawkeye football coverage, follow @AdamJRossow and @HawkeyeHQ on Twitter — and now Facebook — and Hawkeye Headquarters on all season.
On a scale of

1 to Mr. T , how painful would a loss to Wyoming be, Hawkeyes fans? Point to the smiley face that would best describe your pain. The good news is, most experts think you’ll experience a little discomfort during Saturday’s opener, but ultimately come out of Kinnick Stadium smiling. Let’s get to the picks:

Featured predictions

Hawkeye Headquarters

Adam Rossow:

Iowa 30, Wyoming 21 Saturday’s outcome will depend on two things: the Hawkeyes running game and pass rush. Iowa’s offensive line is too good for Brian Ferentz not to just line up and pound the ball, especially with Nathan Stanley making his first collegiate start at quarterback. The running back combination of Akrum Wadley and James Butler should combine for at least 40 carries and more than 200 yards rushing. About the pass rush… the best way to rattle a quarterback at any level is with repeated hits. The Hawkeyes don’t necessarily need to sack Josh Allen more than two or three times, but getting to him early and knocking him down will pay dividends if the game is tight in the fourth quarter. Don’t expect a blowout — Wyoming is too well-coached for that — but it should be a Week 1 win at Kinnick for the Black and Gold. 

Dan Vasko:

Iowa 24, Wyoming 21

Jay Kidwell:

Iowa 35, Wyoming 21

Hawkmania Steve Batterson: Iowa 31, Wyoming 21 Josh Allen’s strong arm and quick feet can only carry the Cowboys so far, likely into the second half when the strength of Iowa’s defense should wear down the future NFL quarterback. Behind the work of its line and running game, expect the Iowa offense to collect enough points for a season-opening win against a solid opening-game opponent.

National predictions

Sports Illustrated

Andy Staples: Wyoming Bruce Feldman: Iowa Chris Johnson: Wyoming Joan Niesen: Iowa Eric Single: Wyoming Molly Geary: Iowa

SBNation Bill Connelly: Iowa 31, Wyoming 22

CBS Sports

Jerry Palm: The Hawkeyes are his upset pick of the week at -11, but its against the spread. (So we can’t say for sure he thinks they’ll lose.)

Athlon Sports

Robert A. Boleyn: Iowa 31, Wyoming 17


Dan Murphy: Wyoming 33, Iowa 30 Mitch Sherman: Iowa 27, Wyoming 24 Tom VanHaaren: Wyoming 24, Iowa 13 Hawkeye State predictions

Land of 10

Scott Dochterman: Iowa 38, Wyoming 20 Bobby La Gesse: Iowa 31, Wyoming 17

The Gazette

Marc Morehouse: Iowa, 34, Wyoming 17

Hawk Central

Chad Leistikow: Iowa 38, Wyoming 22

Go Iowa Awesome

RossWB: Iowa 34, Wyoming 24


Pat Harty: Iowa 34, Wyoming 21 Tyler Devine: Iowa 35, Wyoming 24 Dylan Burn: Iowa 23, Wyoming 16

Hawkeye Nation

Rob Howe: Iowa 27, Wyoming 17 Jon Miller: Iowa Sean Neugent: Iowa 37, Wyoming 24 David Schwartz: Iowa

Hawkeye Report

Mike Zierath: Iowa 35, Wyoming 14 Tom Kakert: Iowa 34 Wyoming 17 Blair Sanderson: Iowa 28, Wyoming 20 Torbee: Iowa 35, Wyoming 17 Lyle Hammas: Iowa 34, Wyoming 20 John Kerth: Iowa 37, Wyoming 24 Matt Randazzo: Iowa 34, Wyoming 21


Max Brekke: Iowa 30, Wyoming 21 BoilerHawk: Iowa 28, Wyoming 20 JP Scott: Iowa 27, Wyoming 24 JPinIC: Iowa 45, Wyoming 20 Hello Jerry: Iowa 35, Wyoming 17 Matt Cabel: Iowa 21, Wyoming 17 Benjamin Ross: Iowa 35, Wyoming 17 Jordan Hansen: Iowa Simulation

Cody Hills:

Iowa 27, Wyoming 17

Irrelevant prediction @Hawkologist And finally, the totally irrelevant prediction based on playing EA Sports’ NCAA Football 2004 on a PS2, as is the tradition since 2015:

Ryan Jaster: Hawkeyes 24, Wyoming 3. It was a snowy night at Kinnick… and that shows you just how irrelevant this simulation is. Game time is 11 a.m. and it’s always sunny in Iowa City for the opener. The icing on the cake is Iowa aired it out after the ground game stalled. Which Hawkeye receiver do you have down for 209 yards?

Prognosis: The consensus seems to be that the game will be closer than Hawkeyes fans prefer — at least for a while — but Iowa will prevail. The national take appears to be more willing to give the game to Wyoming as an upset special.  Are you a college football insider? Or just some guy or girl who has access to a


site like me? If you want your predictions in here next week, hit me up


on Twitter. For more Hawkeye football coverage, follow 




 on Twitter —

and now Facebook

— and 

Hawkeye Headquarters


 all season.