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Iowa Football: Hawkeyes Still Control the West

Things are not good in Iowa City. But they aren’t good anywhere west of Ann Arbor.

Minnesota v Iowa
All is not lost. Yet.
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Hawkeye fans everywhere are reeling after Iowa’s 12-10 home loss to Minnesota on Saturday. We’re now nearly half a week out and it’s frankly difficult to think about without some mixture of frustration, aggravation and disappointment. Oh, and rage. Lots of rage to go around.

Sure, there’s plenty for the officiating crew and we’re going to leave it there rather than re-hash the details or reasons again (frankly, for this writer’s sanity it’s better to never think about that sequence of events ever again and there is likely to be PTSD on literally every punt return for every team for the next 50 years), but more importantly there is loads of rage for Kirk Ferentz, Brian Ferentz and everyone involved in the offensive product we see week in and week out. It’s unacceptable and that’s not new. There remains no accountability and the fanbase is still left waiting, wondering, if there is anyone in a position of power to actually bring some accountability to the program in the near term.

But as angry and frustrated as we all are, not much has really changed from where things stood a week ago. The offense is bad? We knew that. The defense is good? We knew that. The rest of the West is nearly as bad as Iowa’s offense? We knew that too. And when it comes to the standings, there is only a slight, temporary change from a week ago.

Here’s a look at how things stand in the West heading into Iowa’s bye week.

While the Hawkeyes now find themselves back behind Wisconsin, we should all be well aware by now the Badgers are set to play host to Ohio State this week. Nothing is a given, but it’s hard to envision a team that lost at home to this Iowa team somehow knocking off an Ohio State team that just beat Penn State. So for all intents and purposes, the Badgers are sitting alongside Iowa at 3-2 in Big Ten play while the Hawkeyes hold the tiebreaker.

Minnesota, who just stole one in Iowa City, of course now holds the tiebreaker over the Hawkeyes. But like Wisconsin, the Gophers have a date with Ohio State in mid-November. They also close out the season with a matchup against the Badgers. So projecting forward, Minnesota is at least sitting on a 3-spot in the loss column.

That leaves Nebraska, currently 2-2 in conference play and sitting just below the Gophers in the standings. Nebraska has the easiest remaining schedule of any of the West contenders above and below Iowa in the standings as they don’t face Ohio State or any of the other big three in the East. But like Minnesota and Wisconsin before them, the Huskers have to face the Hawkeyes to close out the year.

So, as was the case a week ago, the Hawkeyes are still riding in the front of the car. Last week they were driving, now they’re sitting shotgun, but we’re a formality away from Iowa once again holding the keys.

The obvious elephant in the room here is Iowa isn’t winning anything without something resembling an offense. This time a week ago, Iowa was fresh off a 200-yard day on the ground and the ineptitude in the passing game seemed potentially surmountable. After what we saw on Saturday, that’s no longer the case.

But Vegas is a bit less fickle in their perceptions. Despite the loss last week, Iowa still sits at +2200 to win the Big Ten according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Those are, of course, long odds, but they’re also to win the whole thing as virtually no books have posted odds to win the West mid-season.

What’s really interesting here is Iowa still has the second-best odds of anyone in the West to win the conference title and the fifth-best odds overall. Notably, behind the obvious Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State from the East, it’s Wisconsin at +1400 that still sits in front of the Hawkeyes.

Why, exactly, is that notable? Because as outlined above, Wisconsin is all but certain to drop another game down the stretch. So what Vegas is telling here is that Iowa too is expected to drop another game. But NOT to Nebraska, which would seemingly have the best chance to run the table and yet sits behind Wisconsin and Iowa and tied with Minnesota with odds at +5000 to win the conference.

So the folks that built that oasis in the desert think Iowa stumbles to either Northwestern, Rutgers or Illinois, but takes down Nebraska on the road on Black Friday.

And the rollercoaster ride of this season continues. The Hawkeyes are of course on a bye this week. They resume play with a “neutral site” game against Northwestern on November 4th. That matchup will be played in Wrigley Field and be broadcast exclusively on NBC’s streaming service, Peacock.

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.