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Wine Online: 12-0 is Possible
Team, schedule suggests perfect year is possible...but that's why they play the games
Kirk Ferentz isn't buying into the hype and, instead, is holding firm to the 'what we did last year is history' approach to the 2010 season.
Kirk Ferentz isn't buying into the hype and, instead, is holding firm to the 'what we did last year is history' approach to the 2010 season.
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Aug. 12, 2010


IOWA CITY, Iowa - There's something unusual about Iowa's 2010 football season: All games appear to be winnable.

Oh, I'm not predicting a 12-0 record for this team. That's unrealistic. I'm just saying that -- barring critical injuries or other unexpected setbacks -- the Hawkeyes appear to have a reasonable chance to beat every opponent on their schedule.



That is normally not the case. Virtually every season has one or more games that appear unwinnable. Take the 1985 Iowa team that featured all-Americans Chuck Long, Ronnie Harmon and Larry Station. Pre-season prognosticators said that team would be very good but would lose at Ohio State. They were right. That was the only regular-season loss in a Big Ten championship season.

Conference road games this season are at Michigan, Indiana, Northwestern and Minnesota. The Hawkeyes might be favored to win them all. They certainly have a decent chance for a sweep on the road.

Iowa's toughest test of the season may be at Arizona. The Wildcats have a solid nucleus returning from a team that finished second in the Pac-10 last year. Their coach is Mike Stoops, who played at Iowa and would love to beat his alma mater after losing at Kinnick Stadium last year.





Oh, I'm not predicting a 12-0 record for this team. That's unrealistic. I'm just saying that -- barring critical injuries or other unexpected setbacks -- the Hawkeyes appear to have a reasonable chance to beat every opponent on their schedule.


Plus it's a night game in Tucson that kicks off at 9:30 Iowa time. The last time the Hawkeyes started a game at this ungodly hour was in 2004 at Arizona State. Iowa lost 44-7, but recovered from that debacle to earn a share of the Big Ten championship and an unforgettable Capitol One Bowl victory over LSU.

Big Ten teams coming to Kinnick Stadium this season are Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State. That's a handful, and if they were played on the road Iowa would probably be an underdog in every game. At home Iowa will probably be a slight favorite, with the possible exception of the Buckeyes, Iowa's Senior Day opponent Nov. 20.

The Hawkeyes would appear to be a solid favorite in home games against Eastern Illinois, Iowa State and Ball State, although you can`t always trust appearances. Iowa was expected to thump Northern Iowa and Arkansas State last year, then won the two games by a total of four points.

Which is why pre-season speculation is usually a lot of nonsense. Yes, every game on Iowa's 2010 schedule looks to be winnable. But many are also loseable. Which is why we play the games.

SPLITTING THE BIG TEN IN TWO DIVISIONS

The Big Ten has announced that its first championship football playoff game will be held at Indianapolis in 2011, so the announcement of two divisions will surely come soon. With newcomer Nebraska rounding out conference membership to 12 teams, there is a lot of speculation as to how the league will be split into two divisions.

Since Penn State began playing Big Ten football in 1993, five teams have winning records in conference games. They are Ohio State (.785), Michigan (.691), Penn State (.632), Wisconsin (.594) and Iowa (.526). Include with those five Nebraska, which has fielded strong teams most of the last 50 years. Then put three in each division to strike completive balance.

The Big Ten also has traditional rivalries, many of which involve traveling trophies. Iowa and Minnesota play for Floyd of Rosedale, Iowa and Wisconsin play for the Heartland Trophy, Purdue and Indiana play for the Old Oaken Bucket, Wisconsin and Minnesota play for the Paul Bunyan Axe, and Michigan and Minnesota play for The Little Brown Jug. Other annual games to protect are Michigan and Ohio State, Illinois and Northwestern, and Michigan and Michigan State.

With those rivalries, plus competitive balance and geography in mind, I suggest these divisions:

East: Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Purdue, Ohio State.

West: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Wisconsin.

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