We are currently ranked 18th in the AP Top 25. As far as I'm concerned, I know we are still one of the Top 10 teams in the country. Our actually ranking doesn't say so, we didn't show that we were on Saturday, but a lot of us can agree that many of the bad things that happened in that game Saturday were flukes. In my opinion, if I had to pick one game this season to lose, it would be this last one. A loss early in the year, away, and against a solid opponent typically doesn't end the title hopes of a preseason Top 10 team.
So my question to you is, do we still have a chance to get to the National Title Game in January? Read more after the jump.
Okay, to start off simple. A main question that needs to be answered before we get into more detail is if we win out, would we jump an undefeated the Boise State Broncos in the rankings? That is something to think about. The same question entails for Texas-Christian Horned Frogs, would we jump them? The Big Ten is very strong this year, and winning out could do more then you think.
Let's look at our schedule...
Ball State next week, we need to handle them. The goal is to win convincingly and I'd be happy coming out of the game still ranked 18th. (As I say what I expect our ranking to be, this is assuming teams ahead of us don't lose, so we could move up more then expected.)
Another nationally televised game comes after that with the 23rd ranked Penn State Nittany Lions. A win by 10 points or more hopefully puts us in at 14 or 15 I believe.
After that, we play @ the Big House against the Michigan Wolverines, who is currently ranked 21st. This game is Michigan's homecoming and it will be a 2:30 game on ABC. Ideally, Michigan wins against Michigan State the week before and they are creeping up on us in the rankings. A win in the Big House, spoiling their homecoming, could have us sniffing the Top 10. Maybe 10 or 11.
Here's where things get interesting. Next we have the Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin is currently ranked 11th. They will be taking out the nationally ranked Spartans in a couple weeks. But the week before they come to Iowa City, they host the #2 team in the nation. I think the best situation possible would be if Wisconsin loses to Ohio State in a down to the wire thriller, and their ranking is barely affected. If we take out Wisconsin, this puts us back on the map. We will be in the Top 10 at this point I believe. 8th in the nation at the highest maybe?
Next on the list is Michigan State. Not really sure what is up with them at this point. They have looked good so far. The are ranked 25th in the nation. But by time we play them, they may have lost to Michigan and Wisconsin, so they might be out of the rankings, but still a solid team. A win would boost us up 1 spot if lucky.
The next 2 weeks include games at the Indiana Hoosiers and at those (j) Northwestern Wildcats. We need to win these games convincingly. Ideally, Northwestern will be coming off a win at Penn State and will be ranked. Yes, jNW ranked. I believe they will surprise people this year. Anyways, lets say we are still 8th at this point.
Finally, the big matchup. The Big Ten Championship game. Hopefully an undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes team will be coming into Iowa City for Senior Day. The Hawks have won 8 out of the last 10 Senior Days. A win puts us in the Top 5. Let me remind you that these predictions of where we could rank are assuming other teams ahead of us are not losing (of course except for the ones we are defeating).
A beatdown up north against the Minnesota Golden Gophers is essential. We need to break in Kinnick North. Enough about this game. Now teams other teams will be playing conference championship games, and this is where we can make our move into the title game.
Even if my predictions for rankings are quite generous, there aren't any dominant teams really this year except for maybe the Alabama Crimson Tide, which I am not quite convinced yet. In the coming week, Alabama plays the Arkansas Razorbacks, Florida Gators, and South Carolina Gamecocks, who are ranked 10th, 9th, and 12th respectively. It is very possible they lose one or even 2 of those games. Then of course they still play the ranked LSU Tigers and Aubrun Tigers, and then also the conference title game. Hopefully the SEC beats themselves up this year.
In the Pac 10, the Oregon Ducks are looking dominant and of course there is the Arizona Wildcats. USC Trojans are also ranked, as well as the Oregon State Beavers (who play Boise State this week =D). I think as long as Oregon doesn't go undefeated we are okay.
Just like the PAc 10, I dont see anyone in the Big 12 being dominant. The Texas Longhorns will lose. The Oklahoma Sooners have their weaknesses. The Missouri Tigers aren't quite up there yet. It comes down to the team coming to the Big Ten next year, the Nebraska Cornhuskers. They can run the table in the Big 12 North. They only have to play Texas as the only currently ranked team on their schedule. Ideally, they beat Texas. Texas loses 2 games and plays in the conference title game against the Cornhuskers, and beats them.
Then there is the ACC and the Big East, who arent really relevant in the National Title picture.
To me, the best case scenario aside from the Title Game would be a Rose Bowl bid against Arizona so we can kick their ass this time and show who's boss. But anyways, with a little help (and it really isn't asking tooo much), we are still in it. Am I right, or insane?
P.S. please be courteous if you disagree. Constructive criticism is good. Not just "your an idiot."