That statement would have seemed not only unrealistically optimistic but downright delirious to anyone outside of Iowa City in August. As of October 17th it would be a shock if Iowa didn’t run the table with their remaining opponents. For reference: Maryland, Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue, and Nebraska.
Iowa’s wins over Wisconsin and Northwestern were far tougher opponents than that. The statement Iowa made today in demolishing Northwestern sent reverberations around the college football world. That’s Iowa’s second win over a ranked team and the first in such demonstrative fashion. This is college football though, and crazier things have happened. Ole Miss beat Alabama and then went out and got scraped by Group of Five opponent Memphis. Minnesota stands out as a potential trap game. The weakness of Iowa’s schedule may work against them also. If they don’t win big over teams like Maryland and Purdue, the committee may decide to leave them out over strength of schedule concerns. If Iowa takes care of business, they are likely headed to the B1G championship game as a heavy underdog. Remember, Ohio State’s statement victory over Wisconsin, a 59-0 blowout, is what enabled them to leapFROG (ha ha) over TCU into the playoff. Michigan’s loss to Michigan State today is huge for Iowa. Every team in the considerably stronger east has major flaws and the preseason contenders have all stumbled in their pursuit of a B1G championship. OSU and MSU have survived narrow losses. Michigan came out of nowhere to dominate for a month but already has two losses. Penn State lost to Temple. In the coming weeks, the unbeatens will start to fall. Iowa has a lesser margin for error because a loss to doormat Purdue is going to look a lot uglier than a TCU loss to Baylor, or an Ohio State loss to Michigan. The Hawkeyes are in a great position moving forward, thanks to the play of their typically excellent O-Line. That has enabled every running back they’ve trotted out there to explode. This is the time to kick it into high gear. Go Hawks!