After the Iowa Hawkeyes survived a scare from rival Minnesota last week, the road to a Big Ten West division title was pretty plain to see. Win and in — it was just that simple.
Simple is what took place on Saturday, as the Hawkeyes simply demolished the visiting Purdue Boilermakers 40-20 en route to capturing its first division title ever. With it, snowed-in fans hit the internet and scoured for tickets and hotel rooms in Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game in two weeks time.
Once again, quarterback C.J. Beathard was efficient and thensome through the air. He had 213 yards and three touchdowns passing, while Iowa’s run game was also along for the ride thanks to Jordan Canzeri’s 95-yard day and three total touchdowns on the ground.
It’s like that script has played out before or something? Indeed it has, and the fact that Iowa’s opponents know what they’ll be facing and still can’t stop it stands as a testament to just how well this team is executing on game day.
The Hawkeyes took care of business with a no-nonsense approach and even the fans had that same approach to support. It was almost as if ho-hum, life goes on.
There was a muted celebration and fans took to social media to brag, but even those moments were muted compared to other outright obnoxious celebrations we’ve seen elsewhere (in and outside of the B1G).
All of it seemed about right though, as the No. 5-ranked Hawkeyes sit in prime position to accomplish goals few saw possible at the beginning of the season. Mainly, a Big Ten championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff.
Iowa realized the first part of the goals on Saturday in winning the division, but it can’t lose focus on what is still to come.
There is still the Heroes Game against Nebraska on Black Friday, and dropping that game takes away any chance of getting to the ultimate goal in the College Football Playoff.
Nebraska may be having a down season, but tell that to Michigan State. Clearly the Huskers aren’t afraid of the big-bad teams of the Big Ten, taking the Spartans down on the road even.
A trip to Kinnick isn’t going to intimidate them, and while the record says this has been a disappointing season, the Huskers also come in likely looking to secure a bowl berth and at least a .500 season.
Get past that and there is a matchup against a very tested winner of the Big Ten East. No one believes that game — likely against the winner of Michigan-Ohio State next weekend — is going to be a cake walk.
Yet, it is hard not to get caught up in all the talk of “can Iowa really be a College Football Playoff team?”
The business end of that equation is still right in front of this team, it just can’t buy in to all the talk, hype and media attention suddenly coming its way.
The one advantage Iowa has is having a head coach who has been there, done that before. He knows the battle for where Iowa could go is far from over, and you can bet he’s reminding his team of just that.
Enjoy the Big Ten West division title, just don’t be comfortable with that being the only thing you accomplish this season.
Iowa is just two wins away from shocking the college football world, losing sight of that to celebrate just one-third of the goals in front of it would be a shame. A shame for the Big Ten and a shame for the neutral college football fan too.