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It’s no secret the Iowa offense has been a major issue all year. With each passing week, the statistics start to get worse and worse. We’re back into the same territory we were a season ago with Iowa ranking dead last in total offense.
But like a season ago, the Hawkeye defense and special teams continues to put on an absolute show week after week. Iowa is top-10 nationally in scoring defense, giving up just under 15 points per game and perhaps put the conference on notice a week ago when they held the new-look Wisconsin offense to just six points en route to Iowa’s first win in Madison since 2015.
The win pushed the Hawkeyes to 6-1 overall, but more importantly it vaulted Iowa to the top of the Big Ten West standings and handed them the keys to the car. Iowa now holds the tie-breaker over the Badgers, who still have a date with Ohio State on the schedule. That gives the Hawkeyes some leeway down the stretch as they would need to lose a pair of games or have Wisconsin win out for the Badgers to jump them in the division standings.
It’s not just the Badgers who are chasing the Hawkeyes, however. Northwestern, Minnesota and Nebraska are all sitting at 1-2 in conference play, just a game and a half behind Iowa in the standings. Each has a date with the Hawkeyes left on the schedule.
But for the Gophers, who Iowa hosts on Saturday, they also have a trip to Ohio State pending, as well as a home date against Wisconsin. The likelihood of them ending the year with at least three conference losses is pretty good.
Nebraska and Northwestern have near-identical schedules down the stretch, starting with a matchup against one another this weekend. The winner of that matchup becomes the top team left vying for the West title alongside Iowa with remaining games against Purdue and Maryland with a road trip to Illinois for Northwestern and a trip to Michigan State for Nebraska.
So, will Iowa actually do what they tripped over themselves not to do a season ago and win the West in its final year of existence? Or will it be one of those other teams currently looking up at the Hawkeyes in the standings who go to the sacrificial offering in Indianapolis on December 2nd?
And how do you see Iowa’s matchup with Minnesota going on Saturday? A loss wouldn’t totally derail the Hawkeyes, but their margin for error would get razor thin. Can they keep Floyd home? Will they cover the 5.5 points?
Answer in this week’s Reacts poll and let us know your thoughts in the comments.