BY RYAN OSBAHR ON OCTOBER 4, 2013
What a difference 4 weeks in college football can make…
Just four short weeks ago, and to an extent even after week one, you would be hard pressed to find an optimistic Hawkeye fan. Now they’re coming out of the proverbial woodwork.
This year’s Hawkeye team has inspired hope for a desperate fan base. Is that because of how great the team has played this season or just how putrid they were last year?
It’s a little of both.
It’s true that the Iowa Hawkeyes have played some hard-nosed, inspiring football the past 3 weeks but I usher Hawk fans to temper their enthusiasm.
Last season started off in similar fashion record wise. If you flip the outcomes of the Northern Illinois and Iowa State games, it’s eerily similar, including the complete domination of Minnesota both years. Iowa’s margin for victory is still razor thin; that hasn’t changed overnight. Last season, once conference play hit, the Hawks were levied some injuries in some key areas and the season began to snowball on them.
While I think it is ok for Hawk fans to dream a little bit here, what’s around the corner might be a wake-up call. Regardless of the outcome of this weekend’s showdown with Michigan State (Iowa beat them last season too in East Lansing) the roughest part of the schedule is still in front of them. I’m not trying to put a wet blanket on the optimism that has set in around Iowa City this past week; I just want to warn caution.
Dream B1G Hawkeye fans, but don’t get carried away. Getting bowl eligible and working towards the future is still the ultimate goal for this program but don’t be surprised if this team doesn’t have the gas to get to the upper echelon of the Legends division just yet.
But hey, it’s ok to dream…
Nebraska has a legitimate reason to fear Illinois. Again, what a difference 4 weeks can make. But come on, let’s not get carried away here. Illinois has lost 14 straight B1G games. They have a little less than a punchers chance to go into Lincoln and beat the Huskers. Nebraska got a week off to prepare and regardless of the early season results of both of these teams, the Huskers have no reason to make this game even close.
Penn State is going to throttle the Hoosiers. I’ve been off the Penn State bandwagon all season and on my soap box for Indiana. This is no longer the case. Penn State is still going to struggle this season but it’s not going to be this weekend. Indiana can literally stop no one and Penn State, led by freshman phenom Christian Hackenberg, will have more than enough offense to keep up with the Hoosiers. The Hoosiers are 0-16 lifetime against Penn State; that doesn’t change this week.
Take the under – Iowa vs. Michigan State. This series was labeled as a “man’s game” early this week by Michigan State linebacker Max Bullough. It’s going to be a good old fashioned “beat ‘em up” football game this weekend at Kinnick Stadium. It’s a huge test for both programs that have aspirations for more. I’m not much of a betting man but, if I had to pick, it would be under the 38 total points projected in this game. First team to 17 wins.
Minnesota was exposed last week and it will get worse this week against Michigan. The Gophers can’t throw the ball. The Gophers can’t run the ball. And seemingly, they can’t stop the run either. Last week Iowa held them to 30 yards rushing, and no, that’s not a typo. Minnesota was exposed last week and that’s a whole lot of terrible to face right before the trip to The Big House. I give Minnesota little to no chance on the road at Michigan. While Michigan has played down to its competition thus far this season, it had a much needed bye week and has a wounded Gopher team coming in to help them get right quick.
Is Northwestern ready for the bright lights? As much as I have loved Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats squad this season so far, it’s hard to pick them against the B1G’s only national title contender. Northwestern has the team that can beat the Buckeyes; I just don’t think this is their moment. If this was an 11 am kick off with no one watching and the pressure off, I would have a different feeling. I think this game is too big-time for Northwestern and the exact kind of game in which Urban Meyer and his programs have flourished.
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