I would like to ask the rest of college football an honest question. What are the Iowa Hawkeyes doing wrong this season?
They're 6-0, with big wins against Michigan at home and against Penn State on the road. They own the nation's second longest winning streak. They have one of the best defenses in the nation. And yet they still get no respect. They still stand outside the top 10 in the national polls and are routinely picked to lose each of their games.
But why is this happening? The first reason is simple. It isn't right, but it's simple. The Hawkeyes play in the Big Ten.
This crime is the kiss of death when it comes to college football. Ever since Ohio State started getting blown out in all of their BCS bowls, the Big Ten's reputation has gone down the drain.
All of a sudden, undefeated isn't good enough. Heck, a major win isn't good enough. It seems nothing is good enough for the Hawkeyes to gain national respect. But I expected that. I knew that 6-0 wouldn't be good enough for anyone outside of the Big Ten. But what I didn't expect was everyone in the Big Ten picking against Iowa.
It seems that the Hawkeyes are never good enough to be favored in their next game. Even after a 6-0 record and huge wins against Penn State (in Happy Valley) and Michigan, the rest of the Big Ten still forces them to "prove themselves," as if those wins weren't enough.
This week at Wisconsin is no different. Sure the Badgers are 5-1, but who have they proven themselves against? Wofford? Northern Illinois? Fresno State? Apparently those wins prove something.
The one big game the Badgers played in, against Ohio State, they lost. The Wisconsin offense looked good against Little Sisters of the Poor, but against a good defense, one similar to Iowa's, they choked. I don't understand how this merits so much praise.
It seems as though the rest of the conference doesn't want to see Iowa as a good team. The proof is there, but everyone is turning a blind eye to it. Sure, you can bring up the UNI and Arkansas State games, but what about Wisconsin's close games against Northern Illinois and Fresno State (2OT)?
But through all the criticism, Kirk Ferentz has molded together a team that he knows can win. The Hawkeyes don't care about the predictions, just the box scores. Ferentz doesn't care about style; he cares about wins.
And while most of the country may doubt the Hawkeyes, the state of Iowa knows they have a pretty darn good football team.
So, college football, what will be the excuse next week if the Hawkeyes "escape" from Madison with a win. What will be your excuse to pick against them in East Lansing? Did they not win by enough? Did the coach put in the wrong quarterback? Did they just get lucky?
So go on college football, pick your excuse. Let's just hope that if Iowa runs the table, with wins at Penn State, vs. Michigan, at Wisconsin, at Michigan State, and at Ohio State, the excuses will be gone.
In the meantime, the Hawkeyes will keep on winning, and hopefully lose a few more doubters with every step they take.