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The Iowa Hawkeyes are headed to Indianapolis as Big Ten West division champions for the third time in program history. Mission accomplished. Goal achieved.
But winning the West is just one of Iowa’s goals each season and achieving it leads to a more important one: winning the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes haven’t won an outright Big Ten Championship since 1985 and haven’t won a title at all since 2004.
Could this finally be the year the Hawkeyes break the streak?
Vegas says no and most of the public doesn’t disagree. Iowa opened as 21.5-point underdogs at DraftKings Sportsbook on Sunday, but the public has bet that line up to as high as 23.5 at one point. In short, virtually nobody outside the Hansen Performance Complex thinks Iowa has any chance at winning on Saturday.
And for good reason. The Wolverines enter the week at 12-0 and fresh off their second consecutive season without a regular season loss. They’ve managed at least 30 points in every game this season and only Maryland and Ohio State have put up more than 20 on the top-ranked defense in the country.
In short, the Wolverines are on a business trip with Iowa standing between them and a third straight appearance in the College Football Playoff. The 42-3 win over the Hawkeyes two years ago seems like the target for a team looking to make a statement in the return game for head coach Jim Harbaugh.
But can they really do it? The 23.5-point spread is not only bigger than the last time these two faced off in the Big Ten Championship Game, but it’s far and away the biggest spread of any championship game this week.
Do Hawkeye fans think Iowa can keep it close? Iowa came out two years ago with a gameplan to score points. They fell on their face when Gavin Williams’ pass went over the outstretched arms of Monte Pottebaum, but history seems to forget Iowa forced a Michigan 3-and-out to start that game and the Hawkeyes marched down the field on their opening possession.
It all, of course, went off the rails after that and the Wolverines pummeled Iowa. But if you throw those black and gold glasses on you can see how the Hawkeyes avoid such a fate. They did so last season when they lost 27-13 to Michigan. While that one was never truly close, Iowa was only down 13-0 at the half - a score that would likely be acceptable by most standards on Saturday.
But again, can they do it? And if so, how? Will this be one of those old slow it down, drag them into the mud type games we saw Iowa win over #2 Michigan in 2016? Or is it more likely to be a Woodshed 2017 type game?
Let us know in the comments below, and in this week’s Reacts poll.