The Iowa football team catches flack for its non-conference schedule, but should it matter when they play 9 games in the nation’s second-best conference?
I never understood the argument made against the Iowa football team when they are in contention for a College Football Playoff spot or a high ranking. Back in 2015, despite going 12-0, there were many doubters about the competition.
Sure, the Big Ten West is undoubtedly not as good as the Big Ten East which has perennial contenders in Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State, but overall the conference is rock solid, and the Big Ten West is much improved from a rough few years.
While the Big Ten may never be as strong as the SEC, it’s blowing away competition for the second spot. Last year the Big Ten finished second among all conference in teams in the final AP Poll with five. One team in front of them was the SEC and two spots below them was the Big 12 with a lackluster three teams.
Heading into 2019, it seems like folks are starting to realize that despite its sometimes boring style of play, the Big Ten is an elite conference. According to Athlon Sports’ recent conference power rankings, the Big Ten came in second, right behind the SEC.
And more importantly, the Big Ten plays each other more often than any other conference with nine conference games for each team.
This is a large reason why the Iowa football team’s schedule is the 20th toughest in the nation even though they play cupcakes Miami of Ohio and Middle Tennessee State in the earlier parts of the season.
The one thing about the Big Ten Conference is the lack of truly dominant teams. The conference is solid (save for Rutgers and Illinois) from top to bottom but the top-level teams like Ohio State and Michigan are still not on the level of Alabama or Clemson.
If Ohio State or Michigan or honestly, any team from the Big Ten (maybe even Iowa) could make the College Football Playoffs and spoil the run of Clemson-Alabama playoff games, it could elevate the Big Ten to be knocking on the door of the SEC for the toughest conference in the nation.