WHERE WE'VE BEEN
- SPAM - 2021 Pre-Season Preview
- SPAM - 2021 - Week 0/1 Preview
- SPAM - 2021 - Week 2 Preview
- SPAM - 2021 - Week 3 Preview
- SPAM - 2021 - Week 4 Preview
- SPAM - 2021 - Week 5 Preview
Coming into this weekend, there were only two Big 10 venues in which Kirk Ferentz has never won a game: Maryland, and Ohio State.
Iowa last had a shot at Ohio State in 2013, and was tied with the Buckeyes going into the 4th quarter. Ferentz had, for the first time in what felt like a long time, thoroughly outcoached the man on the other side of the field, Urban Meyer, with a novel and creative offensive schema (that we've never seen since....) that had the unranked Hawkeyes contesting #4 Ohio State on the road. But, the Buckeyes' superior athleticism won the day, despite losing the battle of the X' and O's. Iowa next plays at Ohio State next year.
Iowa has had only one other shot at Maryland, in the dreadful 2014 campaign. After multiple years of mediocre-to-bad football, Iowa's overall fan disgruntlement in 2014 was at peak volume. Ferentz was under an absurdly high-priced long-term contract, and we were openly grousing over the hopelessness of the situation. Iowa's loss at Maryland, an affair in which Jake Ruddock threw more than 50 passes including a pick-six, was a leaking drum of oil tossed into onto that conflagration.
That day was a distant memory on Friday night. Iowa looked to have its work cut out for it at first, as often happens to the Hawkeyes in games against opponents with speed. It almost always seems to take Iowa a quarter to adjust. We see this with bowl games against SEC opponents year in and year out. But then they settle down, they find their pace, and they methodically go about the business of being methodical.
This script played out in familiar fashion Friday night as Iowa demolished Maryland in what looked to be a pretty hostile road environment. Iowa's offense was overshadowed in this affair, but it deserves some plaudits. While certainly not great, Iowa put up reasonable offensive numbers, avoided its usual turtling (no pun intended) with the lead, and Brian Ferentz flashed some uncharacteristic creativity in both play design and play calling. It's encouraging that we're not just seeing a handful of different plays that worked once being recycled, but rather new wrinkles being added to the schema.
Poor Wisconsin. I've been saying for a few years now that the House of Badger might be riddled with termites eating away unseen at the foundations. The collapse would then be both unanticipated and fast. I think we're seeing it happen , perhaps both symbolically and ironically on the same day that Barry Alvarez field was christened. Watch for Nebraska to upset the Badgers on the road, assuming Wisconsin in favored at all, on Nov. 20th.
Purdue, Minnesota, Illinois, and Northwestern are all various shades of Forgetta-Bad. Which is precisely why we should expect Iowa to go 2-2 against that slate after beating Penn State by double digits next weekend at Kinnick.
Nebraska is the clear second-best team in the B1G West. Last week I remarked that Nebraska's defense looks lethal and if they had even average special teams, they could be undefeated right now, in which case, they'd probably be ranked ahead of Iowa. I'm not prepared to say that the Fiftyburger against Northwestern marks the turning of the corner, but it certainly doesn't hurt. Scott Frost finally said something right in a press conference: that's what it's supposed to look like. What Nebraska did to Northwestern is what good teams should do to bad teams. I also said this before the season began:
Bold Prediction:— Bizarro Max ☁️ (@Arch_Hawk) August 27, 2021
The Big 10 West championship will be ultimately be decided on Black Friday by Nebraska’s wide receivers and Iowa’s defensive backs.
Right now, I'm feeling pretty chesty about it.
Here's your SPAM prediction results for week 5.
Game by Game
|@Iowa State||-2.3||W (2-0)|
|Kent State||9.7||W (3-0)|
|Colorado State||17.1||W (4-0)|
This week finally saw some movement that reflected the game outcomes. The lines for Wisconsin and Northwestern almost doubled in Iowa's favor. The line for Nebraska tightened considerably. The system is now behaving as expected. These numbers are about 60-70% based on this year with a smattering of last year blended in.
Also: this is the most I can ever recall Iowa being favored vs. Wisconsin in a SPAM calculation, much less on the road. That's more than a touchdown favorite at Kinnick.
No surprises here. Like last week, 10-2 is the most likely outcome. It's noteworthy that 8-4 remains more likely than 12-0. Considering that Penn State is most likely the last ranked opponent Iowa is going to see unless Nebraska manages to run the table, that's unfortunate.
We don't fly this high very often. Just enjoy the ride, folks. It might not last another week.
Division Championship Odds
Big 10 West
Iowa is 2-0 in conference play. Wisconsin is 0-2. That's basically the story. This leaves the rest scrambling for position, but with a heads-up over Northwestern, Nebraska claims that #2 spot. Given that Nebraska is 3-3 now an 1-2 in conference play, that should tell you that SPAM thinks the Cornhuskers will finish strong. I don't think 8-4 or even 8-3 is off the table. A worse Iowa team once beat a better Ohio State team 55-24, people. It could happen. SPAM has the Cornhuskers favored by 2 point over Michigan. That early loss to Illinois may loom large in late November.
The B1G West is Iowa's to lose. The Hawkeyes have a 2-game lead on everybody. In a season with only 7 games left to play, that's a lot. Iowa has to lose three and somebody else (Nebraska, mostly) needs to run the conference table. That's not impossible, but it's, according to this math, pretty damn unlikely.
Just win the next one. That's all you can do.
Big 10 East