Well as the year goes on, this gets easier and easier to write. The cream is rising to the top, and the rest of the Big Ten might as well jump in to Lake Michigan while holding a cinderblock.
I’m sorry, can you tell I watched Iowa play this weekend? Yeah you probably did too, for some reason.
Before I start ranting about how bad Iowa is and how many years behind everyone else this program is let’s just get to the rankings:
- Michigan (9-0, 6-0): Yeah the Wolverines come to Kinnick this week. It will not be pretty. What’s the record for margin of victory for an Iowa game? Someone look that up.
- Ohio State (8-1, 5-1): I think Ohio State found its offense against Nebraska, as teams do. The Buckeyes looked scary again, and Nebraska came back down to earth. It’s going to be smooth sailing for Ohio State until it plays Michigan, which could end up being the most important game in college all year.
- Wisconsin (7-2, 4-2): Don’t sleep on Wisconsin, which made it through the toughest schedule in the world with only two losses, one to each of the aforementioned teams. Whoever the Badgers square off against in Indy could be on upset alert, which would really turn the playoff picture on its head.
4. Penn State (7-2, 5-1): And here’s Penn State, which looked like a world-beater against Iowa, as teams often do when they play the Hawkeyes. The rest of the season is a cakewalk for the Nittany Lions, which will launch them in to a pretty good bowl.
5. Nebraska (7-2, 4-2): I really wanted to put Northwestern here but Nebraska owns the head-to-head, so this is where the Huskers land. We saw Nebraska get exposed over the last two weeks, but Minnesota next week isn’t exactly a shoe-in, especially if Tommy Armstrong is out. After Penn State, though, the Big Ten isn’t exactly great.
6. Northwestern (4-5, 3-3): Northwestern has played everyone close but just can’t put the finishing touches to come out with a win. The Wildcats are better than their record shows, but close only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades.
7. Minnesota (7-2, 4-2): Holy crap, raise your hand if you knew Minnesota had seven wins. Despite the fact the Gophers lost to Iowa, and ran some mind-bottling plays against Purdue this weekend, this is still where they belong. Minnesota’s last three games are at Nebraska, at home against Northwestern, and at Wisconsin, so going winless to close out the year is not out of the question. Minnesota could theoretically also be going to Indy! Wouldn’t that be something.
8. Indiana (5-4, 3-3): Richard Lagow still wears No. 21 and that’s that.
9. Maryland (5-4, 2-4): Maryland just got shellacked by Michigan. Its next two games are against Ohio State and Nebraska, where Maryland will get shellacked again.
10. Illinois (3-6, 2-4): The Illini grounded out a tough win against Michigan State. The Michigan State which was in the College Football Playoff a year ago. Illinois plays Iowa in two weeks. That will be fun!
11. Michigan State (2-7, 0-6): Quite frankly the Spartans should be ranked lower, but so is life. I have more faith than I should on this season just being a blip for Mark Dantonio. Remember the Andrew Maxwell era at Michigan State? Yeah, that set the table for a pretty good run in Lansing. Sparty does have Penn State and Ohio State left, so how do you hit CTRL+ALT+DELETE in football terms?
12. Purdue (3-6, 1-5): Purdue had Minnesota on the ropes for the first half, but then reality set in and we saw the Boilers turn in to the Boilers. Purdue has Wisconsin, Northwestern and Indiana left on its schedule, which could set the table for Les Miles making in to West Lafayette!
13. Rutgers (2-7, 0-6): Yeah, Rutgers is BAD. Michigan State, Penn State and Maryland are still left to give them the business. At least they get to deservedly reap all the benefits of being in the Big Ten!
14. Iowa (5-4, 3-3): This isn’t me being overly-pessimistic. I’m not trying to be snarky or edgy or baiting for clicks. Iowa is the worst team in the Big Ten, and here is why: even though Iowa beat Minnesota, the Gophers still have seven wins. Remember, Minnesota took Penn State to overtime in Happy Valley. Even though I think Tracy Claeys is a Dilly Bar with a headset, the future is still brighter in the Twin Cities.
Illinois has a cheery new coach in Lovie Smith. There’s still room for optimism in Champaign.
Michigan State will get it together, if not next year, soon thereafter. We all know they will. Purdue could get Les Miles or some up-and-coming coach full of promise after this year. I would say there’s plenty to be excited about in Boiler Country. Rutgers has literally hit rock bottom. There is absolutely no where to go but up for Rutgers. Indiana has Kevin Wilson, and while the results may not always be great, they will be exciting to watch at least.
Iowa is none of those things. It has not hit rock bottom in the wins-losses sense, but it feels like it. I am fully confident there won’t be any coaching shake-up in the offseason to give Iowa fans any sense of hope.
There will be attrition. There will be de-commitments. There will be rumors of locker room dejection and of how Kirk Ferentz lost this team. They will be rumors, still, but that’s enough to be concerned over.
Competitively Iowa may not be the absolute worst team in the conference, but you could make the argument that 13 other teams have more reason for optimism than Iowa, and that is not a place where you want to be in the first place.