The Big Ten updated the 2022 schedule for reasons earlier today. Here’s where it stands across the conference.
And here’s what the Iowa Hawkeyes’ looks like before & after:
Iowa’s Updated Football Schedule
|9/3/2022||vs. South Dakota State||vs. South Dakota State|
|9/10/2022||vs. Iowa State||vs. Iowa State|
|9/17/2022||vs. Nevada||vs. Nevada|
|9/24/2022||at Minnesota||at Rutgers|
|10/8/2022||at Purdue||at Illinois|
|10/15/2022||at Ohio State||BYE|
|10/22/2022||BYE||at Ohio State|
|10/29/2022||vs. Northwestern||vs. Northwestern|
|11/5/2022||at Rutgers||at Purdue|
|11/12/2022||at Illinois||vs. Wisconsin|
|11/19/2022||vs. Wisconsin||at Minnesota|
|11/25/2022||vs. Nebraska||vs. Nebraska|
|12/3/2022||B1G Championship Game||B1G Championship Game|
The two key differences as I see them are: Minnesota moving to November and the Ohio State game taking place after the bye instead of ahead of it. While the pre-bye portion eases up a little bit, the post-bye portion becomes incredible important in the divisional race.
I’ve been long frustrated about Iowa’s inability to control their own destiny throughout a season. It’s a sliding scale, to be sure. But the way next year now sets up will create some genuinely compelling intradivisional matchups, if Iowa only takes the hits one would expect them to take 9 months before games are played: at Ohio State & vs. Michigan. If every other West team enters November with a loss (or more), Iowa will have their chance, with Wisconsin playing at OSU, as well.
Two pseudo-dark horses in Minnesota and Nebraska get relatively weak crossovers with the Gophers nabbing MSU on the road & Nebraska heading to Ann Arbor for a date with Michigan. For Nebraska, can they can avoid the Week 0 game against Northwestern in Ireland. Might be smooth divisional sailing for them into November if they can.
Purdue with Penn State, Maryland, and Indiana also looks well set up for a shot at the West.
The shift in schedule difficulty is stark, year on year, for Iowa. They caught IU, Penn State, and Maryland, taking advantage of those matchups to springboard to Indy. Replacing them with Michigan, Ohio State, and Rutgers is certainly a step up. Where Iowa might have been a 7 or 8 win team who found a way to win 10 games through a schedule being easier than initially expected, this could be a 9ish win team (the defense is just returning sooo much and can the offense really be worse) who could struggle to meet those expectations.
And while the shift to OSU after the bye is a welcome respite by breaking up a really, really tough four-game stretch, Iowa’s post-bye performance leaves a little bit to be desired. They’re just 2-3 over the last five seasons with wins coming in 2019 against Middle Tennessee (48-3) and 2018 at Minnesota (48-31) and losses coming twice against Wisconsin & at Northwestern. They averaged 12 points in the losses.
The flipside is that Iowa’s riding an 11-game November win streak so catching those divisional opponents at that time could prove crucial to their prospects of returning to Indianapolis. The question: will their September & October performances put them in a position where they’re the hunter or the hunted down the stretch?