Yesterday Iowa announced that the final slot on their 2019 non-conference schedule was filled and that Middle Tennessee State would be visiting Iowa City in September that year to completed Iowa's slate. Obviously the Blue Raiders aren't the most exciting opponent around, although as Mike noted, the selection of a team like that should hardly be a surprise if you've been paying attention to Iowa's non-conference scheduling over the past 20 years.
The reality is that Iowa is boxed in when it comes to scheduling, assuming they continue to play Iowa State every year (and that series isn't going anywhere) and Gary Barta continues to insist on playing seven home games every year for revenue maximization purposes (and there's no sign of that changing). Given those parameters, Iowa's going to continue to schedule the same sorts of teams (read: non-Power 5 opponents who will accept a big paycheck to come to Iowa City for a one-off game) in their remaining non-conference schedule slots. So it goes.
Mind you, that doesn't change the fact that Iowa's 2019 schedule looks particularly unappealing from a home game standpoint; woe to the loyal season ticket holders for this schedule full of meh.
|8/31/19||Miami (OH)||Iowa City, IA|
|9/7/19||Rutgers||Iowa City, IA|
|9/14/19||at Iowa State||Ames, IA|
|9/28/19||Middle Tenn State||Iowa City, IA|
|10/5/19||at Michigan||Ann Arbor, MI|
|10/12/19||Penn State||Iowa City, IA|
|10/19/19||Purdue||Iowa City, IA|
|10/26/19||at Northwestern||Evanston, IL|
|11/9/19||at Wisconsin||Madison, WI|
|11/16/19||Minnesota||Iowa City, IA|
|11/23/19||Illinois||Iowa City, IA|
|11/29/19||at Nebraska||Lincoln, NE|
If you're looking for some exciting road game trips, 2019 is full of enticing options. Ann Arbor, Madison, and Lincoln are three of the Big Ten's better road game destinations and all are worth a visit if you're looking to see an Iowa road game. Evanston and Ames aren't on that level, but they still have their merits -- Evanston is right next to Chicago and the atmosphere in Ames is always extra-charged for an Iowa-Iowa State clash. But if you're looking to attend some games in the motherland -- and perhaps check out the renovated north end zone (currently set to be completed for the 2019 season) -- the home games certainly leave a lot to be desired. Penn State is obviously the marquee tilt and the annual Battle for Floyd of Rosedale has some clear appeal, but beyond that... The other Miami? Middle Tennessee? Purdue? Illinois? Woof.
Unfortunately, this is a recurring bug in Iowa's schedule, thanks to the current rotations. Iowa hosts three of their four most desirable local opponents -- Iowa State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin -- in even-numbered years. That leaves the schedule hurting a bit in every odd-numbered year. Since we know the non-conference schedule is going to underwhelm in terms of excitement, that means it's really down to which other Big Ten teams get sent to Iowa City on the whims of the Delanybot 9000.
|9/2/17||Wyoming||Iowa City, IA||9/1/18||Northern Illinois||Iowa City, IA|
|9/9/17||at Iowa State||Ames, IA||9/8/18||Iowa State||Iowa City, IA|
|9/16/17||North Texas||Iowa City, IA||9/15/18||UNI||Iowa City, IA|
|9/23/17||Penn State||Iowa City, IA||9/22/18||Wisconsin||Iowa City, IA|
|9/30/17||at Michigan State||East Lansing, MI||10/6/18||at Minnesota||Minneapolis, MN|
|10/7/17||Illinois||Iowa City, IA||10/13/18||at Indiana||Bloomington, IN|
|10/21/17||at Northwestern||Evanston, IL||10/20/18||Maryland||Iowa City, IA|
|10/28/17||Minnesota||Iowa City, IA||10/27/18||at Penn State||University Park, PA|
|11/4/17||Ohio State||Iowa City, IA||11/3/18||at Purdue||West Lafayette, IN|
|11/11/17||at Wisconsin||Madison, WI||11/10/18||Northwestern||Iowa City, IA|
|11/18/17||Purdue||Iowa City, IA||11/17/18||at Illinois||Champaign, IL|
|11/24/17||at Nebraska||Lincoln, NE||11/23/18||Nebraska||Iowa City, IA|
2017 is a pretty decent year, home schedule wise. The big three local foes are all away from home, but Iowa gets to host two of the Big Ten's premiere teams in Ohio State and Penn State. Ohio State hasn't visited Iowa City since 2010 and Penn State hasn't been here since 2012. Both are coming off strong seasons in 2016 and are expected to be top contenders in the conference (and nationally) in 2017, so those should be plenty of hype and excitement for those two home games. Minnesota is always a plus and those games make up for getting Illinois and Purdue as well.
2018 is a good year for the home schedule, but mainly because several key local foes (Iowa State, Wisconsin, and Nebraska) rotate back on to the home slate. Outside of those teams, you've got a non-conference visit from Northern Illinois and Iowa's last-ever game against UNI (at least until the Big Ten changes its mind about playing FCS opponents), plus Maryland and Northwestern from the Big Ten.
Unless (or until) the schedule rotates, Iowa appears to be locked into a future where even-numbered years tend to have more attractive schedules for the home fans. The main intrigue will come from which teams Iowa draws as crossover opponents from the Big Ten East and whether or not the Delanybot 9000 sends Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, or Michigan State to Iowa City. Iowa gets two of those four in 2017, but just one of them in 2019. Something to keep in mind as fans ponder which games to attend over the next several years.