In a certain football complex on the University of Iowa campus, Nov. 6 is the only date that matters.
Iowa at Indiana.
You know how that deal goes. You don’t bring your good stuff to Indiana or anywhere else in the Big Ten, you’re asking for trouble.
But the rest of us know the date that’s circled in red, the one that a conference title-share and perhaps more could revolve around.
Nov. 20. Ohio State at Iowa.
The Hawkeyes take their show on the road for the next two weeks. Unless you’re going to chase them to Indiana and Northwestern, you sit back here in Iowa and cross of the days between now and the 20th. Nineteen days.
As folly as it is to assume anything in college football, especially on the road, you can’t help but see a matchup of 5-1 Big Ten teams when the Buckeyes get to Kinnick Stadium.
Ohio State has this week off, then hosts Penn State. If Iowa doesn’t go flat, it should beat Indiana (0-4 in the league).
Northwestern is a dicier proposition and has been for the last several years. No one who owns clothes with a black-and-gold color scheme has any business taking the Wildcats lightly.
But Iowa has a better team than Northwestern, and it’s not my responsibility or yours to worry about looking too far ahead.
That brings us to the 20th, in Iowa City. If OSU and Iowa live up to their billings beforehand, the game will be for a share of that Big Ten championship. Because there’s no way the Buckeyes lose at home to Michigan the following Saturday, nor do the Hawkeyes tumble at Minnesota.
I shudder to think of the volume from the crowd noise that could come from Kinnick before and during OSU-Iowa. It could make the stadium neighbors’ dogs go stark raving mad.
But throw this what-if into the scenario, and things could really be berzerk-o in Hawkdom:
What if Wisconsin loses at Michigan that same day and Iowa finds itself playing for its first Rose Bowl berth in 20 years?
Stop the music, some might say. You’re talking about a Michigan team with three straight losses, that has given up 34 or more points in all of its four Big Ten games?
Yes, that’s the one. And a Michigan win isn’t far-fetched. It isn’t probable, but it isn’t far-fetched.
So if Iowa beats Ohio State and Michigan upends Wisconsin, that (likely) leaves the Hawkeyes and Michigan State at 6-1 with a game to go, and the tiebreaker going to Iowa because of Saturday’s stomp of the Spartans.
Which Beatles song do you like best, Hawks, “Help!” or “With a Little Help From My Friends?”
Of course, your guys would have to beat the Buckeyes to make that Rose Bowl have a chance of coming true.
To fill in a blank or two, a three-way Big Ten tie between Iowa, Michigan State and Wisconsin at 7-1 would put MSU in the Rose Bowl because the Spartans and Badgers would have better overall records (11-1) than Iowa (10-2), and MSU beat Wisconsin.
Inside the Iowa complex, it will be all Hoosiers, all the time this week. Next week, it’s all Northwestern, all the time.
Outside that building, the wait is on for Nov. 20. It … could … be … insane.
It’s not too soon to buy earplugs for your dogs, Kinnick neighbors.