Every few years it seems Kirk Ferentz finds a way to get Iowa into the running for a Big Ten championship few see coming. With the way Iowa has been playing and with one of the most favorable conference schedules, maybe this is that year. No. 17 Iowa (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) kept its perfect season going with a decisive 40-10 road victory over No. 20 Northwestern (5-2, 1-2 Big Ten) on the road in Evanston, Illinois Saturday afternoon. The Hawkeyes defense shut down Northwestern on the ground and forced three turnovers.
Iowa running back Akrum Wadley carried the football 25 times for 192 yards and four touchdowns. With the success on the ground, Iowa did not need to rely too heavily on quarterback C.J. Beathard, but he did end his day completing 15 of 25 passes for 176 yards with an interception thrown. When Iowa has a solid running game and a dependable defense working at the same time, they become a dangerous team on any school’s schedule. In a one-game situation, who knows what could happen.
On the flip side, Iowa is doing most of their work in a weaker Big Ten West Division, although a non-conference win against Pittsburgh could end up being a victory over a team playing for an ACC title at the end of the season. Iowa does not play Ohio State, Michigan State or Michigan this season, giving the Hawkeyes perhaps the best Big Ten schedule there is, even with road games at Wisconsin (which they already won) and at Nebraska.Here is all that stands in between Iowa and a clean 12-0 record this regular season;
Oct. 31: Maryland
Nov. 7 @ Indiana
Nov. 14 Minnesota
Nov. 21 Purdue
Nov. 27 @ Nebraska
A road game on Black Friday against Nebraska could still be tricky, but the way Iowa has played paired with the way Nebraska has played, that is a game very well capable of being won by Iowa and there may not be much standing in the way before that.