Astute readers know I usually like to take the intro to spotlight something that happened outside the venerable Big Ten over the weekend, and so it’s only natural to bring up Kansas-Texas, and the fact Kansas had never won in Texas ever.
That figure only goes back to 1996 with the formation of the Big 12, but still. The fact of the matter remains: the floor at Iowa is so high, (and perhaps the Iowa brand is so cheapened in the context of Texas) I can’t think of an interconference foe where a loss to them at home would totally and completely shake the foundation of the Hawkeye program to its bones.
Losing to any other west opponent is taken as all but a certainty given a long enough sample size. Losing to Maryland and Rutgers in Kinnick would totally and completely suck, don’t get me wrong, but taken in a vacuum I think we’d all survive.
BUT, if Iowa were to lose to say, Minnesota, a team its beat nine of the last 10 meetings, and currently owns a seven-game win streak over (the longest record ever held by Iowa in the series) as a captstone to a five game-losing streak during the tail end of the season... I think we’d be pretty GD pissed.
Anyway, happy Monday!
1. Ohio State (9-1, 7-0)
Here’s what frustrates me most about Ohio State-Purdue: the Buckeyes showed everyone and their mother that the best defense against Purdue is... scoring 59 GD points against Purdue.
Ryan Day identified Purdue has just one David Bell, while he has at least three or four David Bell’s spread across both sides of the ball. Here is the first half drive chart.
Someone needs to tell this Iowa team that if you’re not going to double cover someone, you need to have your foot on the gas until that bad boy screams for mercy.
2. Michigan State (9-1, 6-1)
I’m flip-flopping on where to put the Michigan schools, but I’m not losing too much sleep over it because it will all figure itself out as each plays Ohio State in the final two weeks of the season.
Michigan State was never at risk of getting tripped by Maryland despite what just a lowly 19-point win says.
3. Michigan (9-1, 6-1)
In some ways, I wish Michigan didn’t struggle as much as it did against Penn State.
In other ways, I’m glad Penn State was handed yet ANOTHER devastating loss this year, and I’m encouraged that Michigan fans are having the same conversation Iowa fans have every single year dating past five different presidential administrations.
4. Wisconsin (7-3, 5-2)
The Big Ten west leader deserves to be here, and I’m really hoping Nebraska can bust its slump this weekend.
5. Iowa (8-2, 5-2)
Can you believe this team could potentially reach 10 wins before bowl season? And we’re gonna be MAD about it? I can, and I am personally glad that I choose to plan my weekends around a sport where I still get upset with my team even after a victory over perhaps my most hated in-conference rival.
Outside a quarterback change (where Kirk’s hand was forced by injury) this Iowa season and team overall is absolutely no different than those we’ve seen of past years. The #2 ranking was a paper tiger and we all should have known better, but you simply cannot blame us for getting our hopes up, and then catching a case of rabies after dick-tripping against mediocre teams in consecutive games.
I want to believe this team has gotten over the yips, I really do. I’d like to say I’m going to need to see some things that inspire confidence these next two weeks, but the definition of insanity, yada yada.
6. Minnesota (6-4, 4-3)
I love, love, LOVE how PJ Fleck is 0-2 since receiving a fancy schmancy five-year contract extension that pays him around $5 million a year or so. Gopher football fandom is doomed to live in the quagmire it occupied throughout the entire course of my upbringing in Minnesota, and there simply isn’t anything that can be done to break that curse.
Unless Minnesota wanted to, I don’t know, give me an honorary degree and a guest lecturer title? Do that, and the Gilded Rodents will surely be back on track to eight-win seasons!
That’s Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune, but remove Fleck for Ferentz and Hawkeyes for Gophers, and you have basically the same template of how to cover both these (and many other) programs. Why is coaching so hard?
7. Purdue (6-4, 4-3)
While it’s not in doubt with games against Northwestern and Indiana remaining, it’s frustrating that Purdue, a team with wins over Iowa and Michigan State, is still fighting for bowl eligibility.
8. Penn State (6-4, 3-4)
Penn State could be higher, but I prefer to reserve spots 1-7 for teams with a conference record above .500.
9. Illinois (4-6, 3-4)
This is the last Big Ten team with more than two wins before we get to the basement. I don’t love how the fightin’ Berts got a bye before traveling to Iowa City this weekend, and am incredibly afraid of what looms this coming Saturday.
10-13. The Rest Minus Indiana
Isn’t anyone else mad that Wisconsin put up 35 points to Northwestern? The 17 points jNW surrendered to Iowa were BY FAR the fewest it allowed in any of its losses this year, and I am once again getting mad about Iowa after a victory.
I’m really disappointed to read the The Shrink Next Door, starring Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd, is receiving less-than stellar reviews. I loved the podcast and was looking forward to catching the series while I study abroad in Arizona this winter. I’ll still give it a chance, but my enthusiasm is dashed.
14. Indiana (2-8, 0-7)
I’m not going to take the time to check my work, but I just know I was calling Tom Allen a fraud well before this season started. If he wore pants that fit, no one would even be talking about him.