Rivals. Minnesota is done. Nebraska looms ahead. But first, it's OUR MOST HATED RIVAL PURDUE OMG LET'S DO THIS.
WHY DID BUZZ ALDRIN LET NEIL ARMSTRONG BE THE FIRST MAN ON THE MOON?
HE WANTED TO LET PURDUE FINALLY FINISH FIRST IN SOMETHING
Goals. Iowa can hoist the Big Ten West trophy with a win over Purdue Saturday, the first time that Iowa has had a divisional or conference trophy on the line since 2004. Technically, a win wouldn't give Iowa an outright championship; Wisconsin could still tie for the division title with two wins over Northwestern and Minnesota and an Iowa loss, but the Hawkeyes hold the tiebreaker.
But if there's any concern that Iowa might let down after a win over Purdue, we can set that aside:Iowa's goals are officially bigger than that.
A victory, and Iowa clinches a share of the West Division title and a trip to Indianapolis. But even if that happens, coach Kirk Ferentz won't consider the mission accomplished.
"We want to win it outright," said Ferentz, whose team moved up to sixth in both major polls Sunday. "That's our goal."
There's no lack of motivation for the Black Friday trip to Nebraska: Perfect season, Playoff implications, outright Big Ten West title, Heroes Trophy, and FU Shawn Eichorst will all come into play. And this team hasn't really needed much for motivation this year, as it is. There should be no concern of a letdown over the next two weeks.
Roses. I can't find a bowl projection that doesn't have Iowa (1) losing to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game, and (2) going to the Rose Bowl to play Stanford. Jerry Palm, who has been one of Iowa's most prominent supporters, has put the Hawkeyes in the Rose Bowl for weeks now. Mark Schlabach and Brett McMurphy at ESPN are now on board (Schlabach has been there for a couple of weeks, to be fair). Even Jason Kirk, who had Iowa at the Outback Bowl so many times that we received a free Bloomin' Onion, has moved Iowa into the Rose Bowl.
The great irony is that Iowa's potential Rose Bowl consolation prize has come in large part from Nebraska, which beat Michigan State. The OSU projection means that the rest of the Big Ten East contenders will have at least two losses, and Iowa's status as the Big Ten's highest-ranked team not in the Playoff would be cemented with two more wins. The upshot: We now live in a world where the Rose Bowl is a consolation prize.
Cupcakes. For all the sturm und drang about Iowa's basketball roster full of newcomers not integrating well with the returning starters, the weekend's games made a Jekyll-and-Hyde approach look at least feasible. It's difficult to read much into wins over two wholly overmatched teams beyond that, though. Mike Gesell set a new personal record for assists against Coppin State, and did it in basically a half. Brady Ellingson scored more points against Coppin State than he had in his entire career to that date (to be fair, he redshirted after suffering a foot injury last season and only scored 12 points). These are not normal statistics. We'll learn more against Marquette and in Orlando; until then, let's recognize the opposition for what it was.
Even before Saturday's chaos, a blind test by the Dallas Morning News had Iowa behind only Clemson among playoff contenders.
One of my favorite blog gimmicks, mGoBlog's preseason fantasy draft, finally gets around to taking an Iowa basketball player in the fifth round. That theoretically makes Jarrod Uthoff the 22nd-best player in the conference, but Alex Olah and Diamond Stone were already off the board by then, so beauty is still in the eye of the beholder.
If you're like me and still trying to understand just what happened at Missouri last week, Bill Connelly's primer on the subject is about as complete as I've seen. Or you can just be like a Northwestern student and start your own protest for no apparent reason.
BT Powerhouse previews this week's Gavitt Tipoff Classic games, in case you missed that the Big Ten and Big East are providing us with watchable basketball later this week.
Might the Ol' Chin Dimple be coming back to the Big Ten? It makes a lot of sense: He's about to get fired in Houston, he was a successful recruiter in the mid-Atlantic while at Penn State, and his staff is pretty much available and local to that area.
Nebraska had two recruits decommit this week. When the decommits announce they're headed to SMU (which has one win) and UAB (which won't play football again until 2017), that's a sign that they either got cut loose or thought Nebraska was a sinking ship. I'd assume the former.