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Iowa Football: Hawkeye Fans Expecting a Big Ten West Title

It’s Indianapolis or bust for Iowa fans in 2023 it seems.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 04 Big Ten Championship Game - Michigan v Iowa
With Erick All now playing for the good guys, can the Hawkeyes get back to Indianapolis?
Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Congratulations! You’ve done it! You made it through the offseason. This is officially the last day without college football back in your life until next year.

And it seems like this could be a fantastic year of college football for Hawkeye fans. As outlined earlier this week, the Iowa faithful are expecting big things from their team. While Vegas has the over/under at 8 wins on the season, Hawkeye fans are predicting closer to 10 wins. That’s in line with our own staffers here at The Pants.

Sound a little too optimistic for your liking? Yeah. Same.

But it gets worse. Not only are Hawkeye fans calling for double-digit wins this year, our latest polling shows the fanbase is expecting Iowa to win the West. Division title or bust!

As surprising as the optimism that abounds in Iowa City these days might be who the Hawkeye fans are expecting to face when they inevitably make a return to Indianapolis.

The world seems to have laid their confidence in Michigan, who looks for their third straight Big Ten Championship. Vegas is a bit less sure. DraftKings Sportsbook has the Wolverines with the second highest odds to win the East at +120. That’s just behind Ohio State at +110.

Hawkeye fans seem to have put the hype aside and are with Vegas on this one, with more than half of those polled picking the Buckeyes to return to Indianapolis and face off with Iowa for the Big Ten Championship.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about those polling results is the 3% who voted some someone other than OSU, Michigan or Penn State. Only Michigan State has ever won the East beyond those big three.

While there is some ambiguity at the top in the East, Vegas is pretty confident in Michigan and Ohio State. Outside of Georgia (-270), no team in the country has better odds to make the College Football Playoff than either Ohio State (-120) or Michigan (+100). Despite those odds, Hawkeye fans aren’t so sure that both teams can pull off the playoff run.

More than half of those polled expect just one team from the Big Ten to make the CFP, though more than 40% think we could see two teams from the conference.

In case you’re interested in this sort of thing (unless you’re an Iowa athlete, then close this story immediately!), the Hawkeyes are going at +1100 to make the playoffs in 2023.

While those are relatively long odds when compared to the conference bluebloods like OSU and Michigan, the odds are set to get much longer when the conference expands in 2024.

As we all know, this is the last year with the East/West divisions. As we welcome in USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington, the Big Ten is on the verge of playing its championship games with the two teams atop the conference standings rather than winners of any two divisions going forward. With that change, the chances of Iowa finishing the regular season in a position to make a title run, much less and College Football Playoff run, seem to be getting more slim.

At least, that’s what 51% of the fanbase felt in this week’s poll.

The other 49% may be counting on some other factors aiding the Hawkeyes in coming seasons. Notably, with 18 members it’s going to be quite difficult for Iowa to face off with all the conference’s top teams in a given season. In fact, if the conference looks to retain storied rivalries, we may see Iowa avoid several of the bluebloods on a regular basis.

Perhaps in that world, things actually get easier for Iowa in their quest for a Big Ten Championship?

What say you, Hawkeyes fans? Let us know your reasoning in the comments below! And don’t forget to check back next week in our first game week Reacts poll of the season!