Kirk Ferentz was coming off his worst season (4-8) in more than a decade, so questions swirled around the coach and his Hawkeyes entering this season. He needed a strong 2013 to silence the doubts that hung over the program.
Well, he certainly got that.
Iowa's offense did enough to complement a strong defense as the Hawkeyes doubled their win total from 2012 and finished 8-5. It was a crucial step forward for the Hawkeyes and showed that they're back on track.
Offensive MVP: QB Jake Rudock. The 2012 backup took over the reins this past season and helped lead a below-average offense to an above-average season. Rudock's stats weren't exactly eye-popping -- 2,383 yards, 18 TDs, 13 INTs -- but he was a balanced player who came up big when the Hawkeyes needed him.
Defensive MVP: LB James Morris. The Hawkeyes boasted one of the more experienced linebacker corps in the Big Ten, and Morris was clearly the unit's best player. He could stop the run or defend the pass, and that versatility was huge. He finished with team highs in tackles for loss (17), sacks (7) and interceptions (4).
Best moment: A comeback win against Michigan. In a lot of ways, this was a must-win. The Hawkeyes had dropped three of their last five and trailed at halftime against the Wolverines, 21-7. But they bounced back as the offense rallied to score 17 unanswered points. The real story was the defense's stand, however. Michigan never crossed the Iowa 35 in the second half and went scoreless.
Worst moment: Fourth quarter against Wisconsin. Iowa trailed 14-9 heading into the final quarter and a win could've sent the Hawkeyes to a better bowl game. But C.J. Beathard -- taking over for an injured Rudock -- threw an interception on his own 22 that led to a quick TD for the Badgers. It snowballed from there. Iowa ended up losing 28-9 after another fourth-quarter TD.