Iowa Football

Smile! Hawkeyes, Cyclones are table-runs from conference title games

Iowa and ISU 4-0 in November? Say amen, somebody!

Quarterback Brock Purdy (left) and linebacker Mike Rose, both first-year freshmen, celebrate the Cyclones’ 40-31 win over Texas Tech Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. (Matthew Putney/Freelance)
Quarterback Brock Purdy (left) and linebacker Mike Rose, both first-year freshmen, celebrate the Cyclones’ 40-31 win over Texas Tech Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. (Matthew Putney/Freelance)

OK, what follows may sound a little crazy, especially given how Iowa’s offense played at Penn State Saturday. OK, maybe a lot crazy.

Since it isn’t the bad kind of crazy that seems to jump out at you every time you log onto social media or news sites, indulge me with a smile.

Iowa and Iowa State can play in their conference’s football championship games on Dec. 1. Since the Big 12 title contest starts at 11 a.m. that day and the Big Ten isn’t until 7 p.m., you can catch both games and have plenty of time to catch your breath between them.

What a day it will be in Iowa, eh?

The way this comes to fruition is if the Hawkeyes and Cyclones run the table with their four remaining games. And in Iowa’s case, if it gets one piece of help. Perhaps from Penn State.

Is that pie in the sky? Probably. But is Pie in the Sky the name of a pizzeria in Lancaster, Pa.? Definitely.

Anyway, pay attention. All isn’t lost for the Hawkeyes after their 30-24 loss at Penn State and after they’ve scored just one offensive touchdown over their last two games. In case you haven’t noticed, the Big Ten West isn’t, say, the Big Ten East.

Northwestern, which squeezed past Nebraska and Rutgers after losing to Duke and Akron, leads at 5-1. Iowa, Purdue and Wisconsin are 3-2. If the Hawkeyes take out Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois and Nebraska, they end 7-2. Let’s say Northwestern wins at Minnesota and beats Illinois at home. It’s 7-2.

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And let’s say Wisconsin loses at Penn State on Nov. 10. That means the Badgers finish 6-3 at best.

Since Iowa would have beaten Northwestern, the West tiebreaker goes to the Hawkeyes, end of story. They advance to Indianapolis to play Michigan or Ohio State. B1G fun.

Should Wisconsin win its last four games, which also includes a game at Purdue the week after it goes to Penn State, then it’s a three-way tie at 7-2 between Iowa, Northwestern and Wisconsin, and it probably goes to several tiebreakers until getting to the one of best cumulative conference winning percentage of non-divisional opponents.

That doesn’t favor Iowa right now. But forget about a three-team tie, because Wisconsin loses at Penn State. I told you to pay attention, didn’t I?

So if the Hawkeyes sweep Purdue and Northwestern in the next two games, they’re sitting pretty with only Illinois and Nebraska left to topple.

Although, Nebraska did beat Bethune-Cookman with authority Saturday.

How about Iowa State? Well, the Cyclones have defeated three straight good teams to climb to 3-2 in the Big 12, a game behind Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia. What’s left is Kansas on the road, Baylor at home, Texas in Austin, and Kansas State in Ames.

Only a very silly person would say that’s a sure 4-for-4. But ISU should beat Kansas in Lawrence even though the Jayhawks got their first league win in two years Saturday when it nipped TCU at home, 27-26.

Baylor at home? Heck yes. So the Cyclones are 5-2 in the league. Then … Texas on the road? Seriously? Hey, nobody said this would easy.

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The Longhorns got beat at Oklahoma State Saturday, 38-35, and have to play West Virginia at home and Texas Tech on the road before hosting ISU. That could be a gassed herd of ‘Horns.

That leaves Kansas State at home for the Cyclones, in what would be the most important game of all-time at Jack Trice Stadium.

If Iowa State wins out, it’s 7-2. If it tied Texas, West Virginia or both for second-place behind Oklahoma, it gets the No. 2 seed and a Big 12 title-game berth because it beat both. It would play the Sooners in Arlington, Texas for the league championship. If Oklahoma also wins its last four games, that is.

Should Iowa and Iowa State go on to win their conference championship games — if we’re going to go cuckoo here, let’s go all the way — it won’t be enough to propel either into the College Football Playoff. But we can’t have everything. Maybe next year.

l Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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