The journey to get to the BCS title game will be anything but smooth sailing for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Obviously, the Hawkeyes will need to help themselves by winning out—easier said than done—but they also require assistance from some opportunistic teams.
This is the first installment of a weekly series that will examine who needs to lose and who needs to win for Iowa to land itself a title game berth.
Hey, it's good to have a plan.
To remain in good standing with the BCS computers, the Hawkeyes need the teams they've beaten to keep winning.
- Ohio State at Penn State -
This really is a simple decision; don't be confused. Iowa needs Penn State to win. The Nittany Lions have an easier schedule the rest of the way so they're more likely to run the table.
A one loss Penn State team helps Iowa's BCS cause a lot more than a two loss Penn State team and a three-loss Ohio State team (remember, we're banking on Iowa beating the Buckeyes).
- Wisconsin at Indiana -
With a solid victory over the Badgers under the Hawkeyes' belt, it is critical the Badgers keep winning for Iowa to justify calling the game a quality victory,
As Iowa knows all too well, however, the Indiana Hoosiers go down as easily as the school cafeteria's mystery meat. Add the home field advantage for Indiana and the Badgers face a downright scary opponent.
A loss could seriously dampen the Hawkeyes' justification at a BCS title berth.
Don't look for the upset to happen, though. The Badgers are looking for a high-quality bowl bid of their own and Brett Bielema will have his men amped and ready to roll.
- Washington State at Arizona -
Mike Stoops couldn't be happier to help his alma matter vie for a national championship. It only helps that by doing so, he could snatch the Pac-10 title out from the grasps of favorites Oregon and USC.
Arizona heads into California next week, before welcoming Oregon to Tuscon.
First, the Wildcats must take care of business at home against Washington State.
Does anybody else sense a trap?
Nah, I didn't think so.
Either way, Arizona needs to focus on the task at hand.
Florida and Texas won't have much trouble emerging from this weekend with wins. Iowa would accept a loss by either with open arms, but it isn't likely to happen. Other teams with the same prize in mind as the Hawkeyes aren't so lucky.
- TCU at San Diego State -
Remaining in the spirit of trap games for this slide, the Horned Frogs mosey into San Diego to square off against a 4-4 but hot Aztec team.
San Diego State has won three of their last four games and would love nothing more than to disappoint TCU's hopes BCS greatness.
Hawkeye fans would love nothing more, too (aside from another Iowa victory), as TCU recently sneaked by Iowa in the AP Poll.
Is a Horned Frog loss likely?
- Connecticut at Cincinnati -
It doesn't seem to matter which quarterback starts for the Bearcats, they put up the numbers.
Cincinnati is more attractive than Iowa, to the media at least, because they rack up these so-called "style points" week in and week out.
I guess nobody has taken into consideration that they play in the Big Easy. The fact that Iowa plays in the Big Ten never escapes the minds of critics.
Oh, favoritism. Maybe the Hawks need sexier pants like the Bearcats'....
If any team can hope to show up the Bearcats, it might be a fired up Connecticut Huskies squad.
The Huskies will want to avenge the loss to Rutgers last week and emotions still run high after the death of teammate Jasper Howard.
Special things happen when tragedy brings a team together. The Huskies have something to fight for. Every team they face has a reason to fear them.
It should be noted that all four of Connecticut's losses have come by four points or fewer.
Sound familiar Hawkeye fans?
- Oregon at Stanford -
After chatting with some quality Oregon fans through Twitter and Bleacher Report about how awesome it would be to see the Ducks face Iowa for a national championship, I am pained to say this.
Seriously, I have the utmost respect for the Ducks and I wish them well.
However, I wouldn't be saddened to see them lose at Stanford. I'm sure Ducks fans feel the same way about the Hawkeyes.
The Cardinal come off a bye and bet your bottom dollar they're ready to host Oregon in one heck of a game. Stanford is fighting for bowl eligibility for the first time since 2001.
Sure, it could get ugly in the second half, but Stanford will show heart early behind freshman quarterback Andrew Luck.
Luck holds a 148.47 passer rating in his first year. He has also amassed impressive numbers of 1,825 yards and nine touchdowns.
Can the young quarterback lead his team to a monumental upset? Who knows what might happen? It is, after all, college football.
ESPN has already deemed this game worthy of an upset alert.
The Hawkeyes could use the help by getting the Ducks off their backs.
- LSU at Alabama -
Perhaps this week's marquee match-up, both teams are fighting for a shot at Florida in the SEC championship game, which in turn amounts to a playoff for a spot in the BCS title game—or so the experts say.
Either way, here's how Hawkeye fans should break this down:
Cheer like hell for the Tigers to defeat Alabama, then, cheer like hell for the them to kick Florida in the rear in a rematch.
If LSU pulls all that off, the end result is three SEC teams with a "1" in the wrong column.
Assuming Iowa remains undefeated, things could look pretty black and gold from there.