The Fall's Gonna Kill You. With seven wins in the bag, five teams with a combined two Big Ten wins ahead and a bye week hopefully devoid of news to fill, we're starting to see the inevitable conclusion drawn: Iowa should probably go undefeated this season. The first (admittedly not quite) all-in post comes from an unlikely source: The usually-skeptical Mike Hlas, who says Iowa should be undefeated on Thanksgiving Day.
[I]n no way am I going to suggest 7-0 Iowa should finish its regular-season at 12-0. Things have a way of biting almost every team in the country at least once during a 12-game slate. The Hawkeyes were 9-0 and a 16-point favorite when they hosted Northwestern in 2009. The Wildcats won, 17-10.
But Iowa's path the rest of the this season doesn't look laden with many potholes. Until you get to the end of the road, that is.
If Iowa isn't 11-0 when it rolls into Nebraska on Black Friday, it will be a magnificent opportunity lost. Because the next four games on Iowa's schedule are highly winnable if quarterback C.J. Beathard remains upright and semi-mobile.
Rick Brown of the Des Moines Register isn't as blatant, but he starts using the 'P' word.
Using Iowa and College Football Playoff in the same sentence would have been laughable at the start of the season. Seven games in, it still might be a long shot. But the Hawkeyes are one of 15 FBS teams still undefeated. The first playoff ranking comes out Nov. 3 at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN.
After a bye week, Iowa returns to action at home against Maryland Oct. 31. According to ESPN's Power Index, the Hawkeyes will be favored in four of their last five regular-season games — a 93 percent chance of beating Maryland, 75 percent at Indiana, 85 percent against Minnesota and 91 percent against Purdue. That lone exception would be at Nebraska (47 percent).
Our podcast gues from last week, Northwestern grad and transplanted Iowan Kevin Trahan, is also talking about twelve wins without an ounce of irony. All of this comes in the same weekend that Iowa fans started yelling and screaming about being unfairly discounted by the polling class. We agree that the polling makes no sense -- the team that Iowa destroyed in Evanston this weekend is the same team that shut down more highly-rated Stanford, for instance -- but it's far too early to be concerned with Playoff projections or win scenarios.
We tackled the same issue in 2009, when Iowa was the top-rated team in the country in computer polls but mired in the middle of the Top 25 in the AP and Coaches polls. That team faced a tougher schedule than this one, but the bigger issue is one that is no less true for this year's squad: We're one bad hit on our quarterback (or middle linebacker) (or cornerback) (or free safety) from having a big problem. Despite the (yeah, I'll say it) heroic efforts of an offensive line and running back corps decimated by injuries, Iowa's general lack of depth is the biggest concern, and it's not getting better any time soon. Don't start peering over the cliff to the rapids below and worrying that you might drown, Butch and Sundance. If we win them all, the playoff will sort itself out. For now, just enjoy this, because we don't get it too often.
And Now I Completely Contradict Myself. SB Nation's Jason Kirk really liked that Outback Bowl podcast theme from 2013, because he refuses to move Iowa out of Tampa. Dochterman speaks of The Bowl Which Shall Not Be Named. CBS Sports' Jerry Palm has Iowa in the Fiesta Bowl, which is certainly a new scenario but makes some sense: If Iowa and Michigan State both have one loss to Ohio State, Iowa was ranked lower all season, and Iowa's loss was more recent than Michigan State's, Iowa will probably be ranked below Michigan State at that point (though the old Big Ten tiebreaker, highest winning percentage, would go to Iowa). ESPN has Iowa in the Outback Bowlbehind two-loss Michigan, which is kind of silly.
B.Y.O.G. BRING YER OWN GUTS. Nobody is ever going to confuse Kirk Ferentz with Dabo Swinney, but this is about as close as we're ever going to see him get to the unhinged insanity of America's greatest evangelist football coach.
"Needless to say, this is a really resilient bunch of guys we are coaching right now," Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. "It seems like whatever we throw at them or whatever comes their way — good, bad or indifferent — they seem to respond in a really positive way.
"How good we are, I have no idea right now, but I do know this, this team plays extremely hard and it has a lot of guts."
Now, if we get footage of Kirk doing The Whip an NaeNae, we know New Kirk is really a thing.
Jarrod Uthoff was left off the CBS Sports Top 100 players in the nation list, which is where your outrage over being disrespected should be placed. Bronson Koenig is on the list. Vince Edwards, who averaged 8 points per game last season and scored all of 4 points against Iowa last season, is on the list. Uthoff is not on the list.
The lineup for the Gable Gala, a benefit for the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, includes both Brands brothers, Olympic champion Ed Banach and World champion Adeline Gray. The Gala is Friday, October 24 in Des Moines, and ticket information is available in the post linked above.
Remember the scene in 'I Love Lisa' where Bart pinpoints the moment that Ralph's heart breaks? We now have the college football equivalent, thanks to Michigan's ridiculous boner Saturday afternoon.
Nebraska and Minnesota have adopted the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy, one of the best things to happen in the Big Ten since expansion.
Speaking of the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy, could Bo Pelini be returning to the Big Ten? Because Maryland might be far enough from Nebraska to keep the rest of the conference from spontaneously combusting (psst, Maryland: it's a great idea. Seriously.)
The incomparable Michael Weinreb tackles the implosion at Central Florida for Grantland, and raises a question we've asked here: Where do the second-tier Florida schools go after a string of bad decisions brought their ascent to a halt? And does their arrested development open the door for programs like Iowa to recruit Florida more effectively?