Point/Counterpoint: Will Iowa make a bowl game?
I know it’s hard to see right now, but Iowa is going to make a bowl game this year.
No, really. It will. Trust me.
Iowa is at 4-4 right now, meaning it must win two more of its final four games to be bowl-eligible. A quick glance at its schedule will show a promising two weeks directly ahead.
On Saturday, the Hawkeyes play Indiana. While the Hoosiers went neck-and-neck with Ohio State, they are still the Hoosiers. They still are dead last in the Big Ten in rushing defense and total defense. That means it’s a winnable game for Iowa and a chance for the team’s offense to get on track.
The Hawkeyes also play Purdue a week later in Kinnick. That’s another feasible victory. Not to say it’ll happen — this is Iowa football, for crying out loud — but the chances are in the Hawks’ favor.
Purdue, which got stomped by Minnesota last week, has the 11th-worst defense in the conference.
That’s another thing to take into account when wondering if Iowa will make the Diaper Bowl, or the Toilet Bowl, or more realistically, the Ticket City Bowl. It is Iowa football, meaning anything can happen. Odds are, the Hawkeyes will drop a miserable game to Indiana, come back to defeat Purdue, and then upset either Michigan or Nebraska in the final two weeks to seal a .500-record.
Anything can happen in the Big Ten.
But rest assured, Hawkeye faithful. Iowa will head to the postseason this year. Whether it wins that bowl game is another conversation to be had.
— by Cody Goodwin
Party as though it’s 2007.
This team could be Kirk Ferentz’s worst since 1999, his first year at the helm. And there are several parallels between this year’s team and the 2007 Hawkeyes — the last Iowa team to not reach a bowl game.
In 2007, the Hawkeyes won an uneventful game against Northern Illinois at Soldier Field. They lost to Iowa State by 2 points (3 this year). They beat Michigan State in overtime, were clobbered by Penn State, and embarrassed at home by a directional Michigan school.
Injuries plagued the running backs and held former Iowa star Albert Young under 1,000 yards. And below-average quarterback play hurt the Hawkeyes on a nearly weekly basis.
But even Jake Christensen was more effective than James Vandenberg has been this season.
Christensen earned a bad reputation with many Hawkeye fans, but now he seems like a considerable upgrade. He threw for 17 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions in 2007; Vandenberg has 3 scores and 5 picks through eight games this season.
But the blame for this year’s performance doesn’t lie solely at Vandenberg’s feet, no matter how much he may say otherwise. Receivers have dropped passes and still seem to be struggling to get on the same page as their quarterback. Special-team play has been inconsistent, outside of kicker Mike Meyer.
And the defense — which carried the Black and Gold through its first six games — has looked vulnerable the past two weeks. Iowa has allowed 937 yards of offense in its losses to Penn State and Northwestern, including 564 rushing yards.
The Hawkeyes are now in must-win territory. If they fail to win at least one of their next two games, they will be forced to beat Michigan *and*Nebraska to reach bowl eligibility.
That’s just not going to happen, folks.
The Hawkeyes’ best chance is to win against Indiana and Purdue. But there’s plenty of reason to doubt Iowa can beat the Hoosiers. Indiana has the best passing offense in the Big Ten, and it hung 49 points on Ohio State three weeks ago.
Given what we’ve seen the past two weeks, it’s not hard to imagine the Hoosiers dissecting the Iowa defense with precise passing up and down the field.
A thought to keep in mind when looking back to 2007: Indiana routed Iowa in Kinnick Stadium.
— by Tork Mason
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