Iowa football: How Iowa can still win the B1G West

Despite a heartbreaking loss to Wisconsin Saturday, the Iowa football program still has a shot at winning the B1G West. Here is how that can happen.

For those that don’t know, there are fourteen teams in the B1G conference, seven in the East and seven in the West. Each of division fight to win their division so they can face off against the other division’s champion in a battle for B1G supremacy. This is always the goal for the Iowa football program to play in this game, but a loss to Wisconsin Saturday night put a damper on those hopes. Although, it won’t be easy, it is still possible for the Hawks win the B1G West and here is how.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand how a team wins their division. It’s pretty simple actually. Each team in the B1G will play nine conference games, and the teams will be placed in order from first through seventh based on their conference record. In the case of a tie, they compare head to head matchup. It gets a little more complex for three team scenarios, but that is the main gist of the how teams find a spot in their division standings.

In the case of Iowa, they unfortunately lost to Wisconsin on Saturday who has been the front-runner to win the division since the start of 2018. This means the Iowa football program needs to have a better conference record than Wisconsin since it will not win the head-to-head battle with them. I could go into more details on where the other teams fit into this scenario but if Iowa takes care of business like they should, the other teams in the B1G West will be irrelevant in this matter.

Both the Iowa football team and the Wisconsin football team have eight conference games left in their schedule.

Wisconsin’s remaining games are Nebraska, @ Michigan, Illinois, @ Northwestern, Rutgers, @ Penn State, Purdue, and @ Minnesota.

Iowa’s remaining schedule has a wonky array of home/away games but here are the opponents: @ Minnesota, @ Indiana, Maryland, @ Penn State, @ Purdue, Northwestern, @ Illinois, and Nebraska.

The way I look at it, Wisconsin will likely be favored in six of their eight games with tough games against Michigan and Penn State being the games were they might struggle considering The Big House and Happy Valley are pretty difficult places to play. Three sneaky games that Wisconsin is likely favored but could have some difficulties with is Purdue, @ Northwestern, and @ Minnesota.

Purdue is a much better team than they have shown this season and Northwestern always manages to ruin a season or two every year. Finally, Minnesota is a rivalry game and although they suffered a bad loss last week, they have looked the part of a solid middle of the pack team so far.

Realistically, Wisconsin suffers two losses in conference play which would put them at 7-2 in conference and 9-3 overall. I feel like they will split their two tough road games, and lose to one of their sleeper games.

If Wisconsin goes 7-2 in conference play, this means Iowa would need to go undefeated in their remaining conference games to finish 8-1 and not need to worry about enforcing the head-to-head tiebreaker with Wisconsin. Iowa could be favored in nearly all of their games with the exception of the away game to Penn State and potentially the away game to Minnesota in two weeks.

Similar to Wisconsin, Iowa has a few sneaky games with Minnesota, Northwestern, and Purdue all for the same reasons I alluded to above. The big game that stands out though is playing at Penn State. This is the toughest remaining game on Iowa’s schedule, and it’s a game that Iowa absolutely has to win if they want a good shot at winning the B1G West this season.

Essentially, Iowa winning the B1G West will not be an easy task. The best chance is if Iowa can run the table the rest of the season and Wisconsin loses their tough road games. If not, there will need to be a little bit luck for the Hawkeyes to capitalize on the immense amount of talent this Iowa football team possesses this season.