After demolishing Northwestern, 40-10, Iowa is 7-0 for the first time since 2009 and likely to move into the top 15 in the national rankings. That 2009 team got to 9-0 and reached the top four of the BCS rankings, and it ended up finishing 10-2, with a win in the Orange Bowl. This Iowa team is dreaming of more, and rightfully so.
Iowa probably isn't one of the four best teams in the country, but after winning at Northwestern and at Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes are already through the meat of their schedule, and they should be favored in every game on their quest for an undefeated season. The remaining schedule is almost comically easy.
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These win probabilities, courtesy of Bill Connelly, came before Iowa's 30-point win over Northwestern — a game the Hawkeyes were expected to lose by six points — so they are likely to go up once the new advanced stat ratings come out.
Iowa should win every game from here on out. Of course, weird things happen in college football, and there are some potentially tricky games. The Hawkeyes struggle with tempo teams like Indiana, and Nebraska could be dangerous. But after the win in Evanston, there's a lot for Iowa to be excited about, and it's not just the schedule.
The Hawkeyes had to deal with injuries pretty much all over the field:
- Both starting tackles were out.
- Iowa's starting running back entering the season, LeShun Daniels, was out, and backup Jordan Canzeri was injured in the first quarter and did not return.
- Drew Ott, the Hawkeyes' best defensive player, is out for the season with a torn ACL.
- Tevaun Smith, who has missed the past two games with injury, returned but was not 100 percent.
- Quarterback C.J. Beathard was limited by a groin injury.
No matter, the Hawkeyes' young players on the offensive line stepped up to have big games, the defense held an impressive Northwestern rushing attack to 51 yards and third-string running back Akrum Wadley dominated a top-10 Northwestern defense with 204 yards on 26 carries and four touchdowns.
This Iowa team has not had the injury luck common among most title contenders, but it's still winning, and winning convincingly, while building depth with its younger backups. All against the meat of the schedule. Now the Hawkeyes have a bye week to get healthy, with the possibility of both tackles, Smith, Beathard and a running back or two all getting back to full strength for the stretch run.
It's really hard to go undefeated. But with a 7-0 record through its toughest games and some bad injury luck, Iowa is sitting pretty in the Big Ten West, and the Hawkeyes just might have a College Football Playoff run in store.