That's a fair question at this point. Barring disaster on Saturday, Iowa will be 3-1 going into the conference slate. That means 3-5 is a necessity for bowling, and after a 2-6 season last year, we know that's not really a given.
So really it's a question of how likely is it that Iowa gets three wins out of its last eight games, and depending on your level of optimism, there's anywhere from two to seven winnable games in the Big Ten (everyone can agree that at Columbus waits bloody, gruesome death in football form).
A trip to Purdue looks like the most winnable game; Purdue is bad until further notice.
Minnesota is substantially better than Purdue because everyone in the Big Ten is better than Purdue, but the Hawkeyes are ranked higher in the Sagarin ratings. Also, Minnesota has not been a historically difficult place for the Hawkeyes to play. This is pretty much a 50-50 game and heavily important to Iowa's bowl chances.
Then things get dicey. Three of the home games are against competition that's better, but vulnerable: Michigan State, Wisconsin and Northwestern all come to town and none have looked like world-beaters. I would expect Iowa to stay within single digits of all three and the likelihood of one of those close games turning into an Iowa win is not unreasonable.
Then there's the last two games on the schedule: hosting Michigan and going to Nebraska. Michigan clowned Iowa last season in Ann Arbor and looks like it has a substantial talent advantage yet again this season. A good case can be made that Wisconsin is outperforming the Wolverines thus far in 2012 and thus this game is more winnable—look at what Akron did at the Big House, for crying out loud—but I trust Iowa to hold its own against more of Wisconsin's starters than Michigan's starters. So I'm worried about that.
And then Nebraska. I can't get a read on that team. Just can't. So until further notice I'll default to "trip to Lincoln = loss" and leave it at that.
So the formula here is Beat Minnesota and Purdue + Steal a home game against a good team = Six wins. Anything past that is gravy. And the odds of that, I'd say... 30-40%. Sorry, but this whole thing starts with a 50-50 proposition, winning at Minnesota. The Gophers are good, guys. Well, they're better, anyway.
Missouri and Kansas. I've been wanting that ever since the idea of the B1G moving past 12 teams was first floated a couple years back. They help further flesh out the west region and create more geographical rivalries for the Hawkeyes, they're bad at football but so is the rest of the Big Ten aside from like three schools, they help solidify the Big Ten as the premier basketball conference in the nation and they restore the best, nastiest three-way rivalry in all of college sports.
Also congratulations to all the perverts who are coming to BHGP for the very first time after googling "nastiest three-way." You won't find anything erotic in this post, but since we don't like to leave people empty-handed (so to speak), some special erotica just for you.
@Adam_Jacobi I saw a six year-old child dressed in Iowa gear on my vacation. When I asked his feelings on Ferentz, he cried. Is that common?— Zach Rau (@zrau) September 19, 2013
This is also common in 16-year-olds, 26-year-olds, 36-year-olds, and everybody else.
Also it takes a lot of courage to tell people that you made complete strangers' six-year-old children cry. Normally when I do that I just go home and rage-eat an entire tub of hummus. Sabra Supremely Spicy, if you were curious.
Would be nice, wouldn't it? You'd have to go back nearly two full years to September 24, 2011 to find the last time Iowa had an advantage like that, when the Hawkeyes put it on ULM, 45-17. It was 28-3 at the half and AJ Derby even got a little playing time, so maybe that happens again.
I'm not optimistic, though; remember, WMU made it essentially a four-quarter game against MSU and Northwestern already this season, and let's be honest, Iowa hasn't earned its way into the same sentence as those two teams yet this year.
So IF it happens, be heartened! Do not take it as a given! If Iowa blows out WMU it is a good win and potentially even a harbinger of decent things to come in the Big Ten.
Finally a good question.
Iowa's strength is in its cattle, its farm boys, so obviously a big, legit grind to start off with as the patty. Blackened. Corn-fed, because duh, so if you're a grass-fed snob, sorry, but deal with it. Also you're not even eating this burger, it's a mailbag question.
Anyway, we top it with cheddar cheese, which is close enough to Iowa's brand of gold that we have a black-and-gold base. Floyd of Rosedale still resides in Iowa City so this burger gets bacon. Kirk Ferentz is not a spicy coach by any means, so don't expect jalapenos or barbecue sauce or anything that might overwhelm the palate. One pickle for the one trick play per week, even if it's just some end around that doesn't go anywhere.
Then it's all topped by one of those sad, dry McDonald's buns because there has to be a pervasive low-rent quality to the entire thing; this is still 2013 Iowa football we're talking about here. Also it's served on newspaper. So at this point you ask, "why am I eating this on newspaper?" And I respond "I don't know, why do Iowa's special teams suck so bad?" If you continue to complain I knock the burger out of your hand and direct you to Ames.
That is the Iowa Hawkeye burger. Eat it.