The road to the Rose Bowl now runs through Iowa City.
No. 13 Iowa, which improved to 5-1 and 2-0 in league play, has three more home games this season.
Each is against a Big Ten title contender (with all apologies to Purdue). First up is No. 10 Wisconsin (6-1, 2-1) fresh off its upset of top-ranked Ohio State on Saturday. The Hawkeyes and Badgers square off at 2:36 p.m. Saturday.
The following week, Iowa hosts No. 8 Michigan State (7-0, 3-0) in Kinnick Stadium. The Spartans are one of just 10 remaining undefeated teams.
And because the Spartans don’t have the Buckeyes on their schedule, and already defeated Wisconsin, many are pointing to Iowa as biggest obstacle on their path to Pasadena.
No. 11 Ohio State (6-1, 2-1) comes to Iowa City on Nov. 20. It’d be a big mistake to count out the Buckeyes after one loss. All they have done is won or tied for the past five Big Ten titles.
(Iowa won a share of the title back in 2004. The last time Wisconsin was crowned was in 1999. The last time Michigan State won a share of the Big Ten title was in 1992, when four teams, including the Hawkeyes, tied atop the Big Ten at 6-2.)
As I previously mentioned, Michigan State doesn’t play Ohio State. In addition, the Spartans and Badgers already tangled, so the biggest remaining game for all three games (with all apologies to the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry) is the 13th-ranked Hawkeyes.
Not that Illinois, Michigan, Northwestern, Purdue or another team couldn’t rise up and pull off the upset. They could.
But right now, the Big Ten has four ranked teams, ranging from 8 to 13 in The Associated Press poll. And from 7 to 15 in the first BCS rankings released Sunday.
Iowa was 15th in the first BCS standings. For those who don’t remember the BCS hand-wringing of a year ago, to be considered as an at-large team for a BCS bowl, you have to finish among the top 14 teams in the final BCS rankings.
But with seven weeks of games left … it’s too early to get too wrapped up in all the what-ifs.
That includes those who still are dreaming of the Hawkeyes playing for a national title. It’s something that can’t be completely dismissed as the rantings of the most die-hard Kool-Aid drinkers.
Granted, Iowa has to run the table. But if the Hawkeyes do, they might have three wins over top 10 teams. Wisconsin comes in Saturday at No. 10. If Michigan State isn’t upset by Northwestern, it would be top 10.
And Ohio State, barring an upset, will be in the top 10 when they visit.
Those are the type of victories that can sway both the human voter and the computers.
Of course, there are about a million different scenarios. There still are 10 undefeated teams … but in the words of the immortal Lloyd Christmas from “Dumb and Dumber” … “So you’re saying there’s a chance. Yes!”
Even if one doesn’t subscribe to a grandiose dream, it’s clear that all roads to the Big Ten title run through Kinnick Stadium. It should make for an interesting final six weeks.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football