I’m not going to sit here and editorialize on the problems facing Iowa, because the problems are not new, and many folks, much smarter than I, have already published said editorials, probably dating back as far as 2012.
So I’m going to use this space to champion the superlatives going on around the conference right now, and discuss the other great things I watched this weekend that weren’t Iowa football.
1. Michigan State (8-0, 5-0)
I’m choosing not to focus on any of the bad luck Michigan fans may or may not think they’re subject to in the form of bad officiating or other chicanery. That’s pointless for a couple reasons. For one, you can basically set your clock by horrible refereeing all around the country these days (this is actually a huge problem that seems like no conference has any interest in fixing, same goes for the NFL and MLB) and two, Michigan probably won’t have to face Mel Tucker ever again, so it’s likely another blip on the radar of a season that perhaps saved Jim Harbaugh’s job.
So I say Sparty on. They get two games of rest against Purdue and Maryland before shutting things down with Ohio State and Penn State, two contests that will amount to millions of dollars for the hottest coach in college football right now.
2. Ohio State (7-1, 5-0)
The box score paints this as a nine-point win for Ohio State over Penn State, but it seemed very much like an OSU playing with its food situation even though it was just a three point game going into the fourth quarter. Sean Clifford got sacked four times and Penn State ball carriers were tackled behind the line of scrimmage 8 times, so things kinda sorta are humming for OSU.
3. Michigan (7-1, 4-1)
Michigan’s goals are all still very much still on the table as long as they... run the aforementioned table. I don’t really see that happening, but it’s not out of the question.
4. Minnesota (6-2, 4-1)
The Big Ten West leader deserves to be here at this point in the season, and I’m taking a break to jump into Lake Michigan.
5. Wisconsin (5-3, 3-2)
For as much as others like to joke about the Big Ten East being so top-heavy, its fatty midsection has NOTHING on the love handles that occupy the West.
In case you were wondering, Iowa is the rump.
6. Purdue (5-3, 3-2)
Another Saturday passed by where David Bell was held to well under 100 yards receiving and no touchdowns, so you know Purdue didn’t play Iowa.
7. Iowa (6-2, 3-2)
Putting Iowa here because we own wins over Maryland and Penn State already, but the case can be made that the Hawkeyes, riding a two-game losing streak, belong much lower. You’re not gonna get any argument from me, a guy who paid real American dollars to watch this team kickoff at 6pm in person in Evanston this weekend.
8. Illinois (3-6, 2-4)
Don’t worry Illinois fans, we know a thing or two about letdowns after beating Penn State.
9. Penn State (5-3, 2-3)
I watched seven episodes of Only Murders in the Building yesterday. Just delightful. Couldn’t recommend that enough.
10. Rutgers (4-4, 1-4)
Also been really getting into the work of James Crumley. I was recommended The Last Good Kiss on a whim, and was delighted to learn he spent time at the Iowa writer’s workshop when I got to his bio at the end of the book. I picked up five more of his titles at my local bookmonger and am tearing through them right now.
11. Maryland (5-3, 2-3)
I don’t want to do a headcount now, but through the pandemic I’ve bought so many friggin’ bottles of bourbon. If I didn’t buy another bottle, I still think I’d have enough to last me well past the calendar year. I had to clear space on a bookshelf just to store them.
12. Indiana (2-6, 0-5)
I don’t have a problem, you have a problem.
13. Nebraska (3-6, 1-5)
I wore temporary tattoos as part of my halloween costume, and just took a zoom call at work with a butterfly tattoo on my neck. How’s your Monday going?
14. Northwestern (3-5, 1-4)
Only putting them here so I can cash my “Iowa loses to the worst team in the conference” check next week.