When the preseason rankings came out, there were 2 Big Ten schools in the Top 10, Ohio State and Penn State-- and quite frankly, deservedly so. But almost two-thirds into the season, the lone Big Ten school in the Top 10, are not the Buckeyes or the Nittany Lions, but new-No. 6, Iowa (7-0).
Both Ohio State (5-2) and Penn State (6-1) have hit a few bumps on the road and at this point in the season, Iowa has the best and probably only shot at representing the Big Ten in the BCS Championship Game.
The road ahead looks pretty decent for the Hawkeyes, with their biggest threat being a November 14 showdown at Ohio State. If they win at Michigan State this week, upset OSU and run the table-- with a little help (i.e. Texas loss), then Iowa has a great chance to at least make an argument.
An 11-0 Iowa team will most likely leapfrog Boise State (6-0), Cincinnati (6-0) and probably even USC in the rankings. Couple that with a Texas loss (at maybe Missouri or Oklahoma State) and the Hawkeyes could see themselves at #3. Then comes the SEC championship game, which means there can only be one survivor in the blood bath between #1 Florida and #2 Alabama (r.). Iowa can sneak into the national title game by virtue of default. It's unfortunate that the two best schools play in the same conference. But-- it is what it is.
As for USC(5-1), they are right back to where they originally started, at No. 4. Their earlier loss to the Washington Huskies has slowly but surely been diluted, as I suspected after the stunner in Washington. This is bad news for Texas, Florida and Alabama. This is the point in the season when a first loss really hurts. So USC did themselves a favor by getting their one loss out of the way early.
If I'm USC, I definitely like my chances assuming someone can get Texas and Iowa out of the picture. Of course, all this becomes hogwash if the Longhorns run the table.
As for Iowa, if a few breaks go their way, they may just have a real Field of Dreams this year-- only this one isn't a baseball field built by Kevin Costner but a football field (Kinnick Stadium) in Iowa City named after their iconic captain.
And I'm sure Nile Kinnick (above) is looking down right now-- and is proud of what his team has accomplished so far.
Photos courtesy of the AP
Nile Kinnick photo courtesy of espn.com