By Adam Hoge-
(CBS) Here’s a crazy, but true thought: Iowa could still play in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game.
One week after losing at lowly Minnesota, it seems bizarre to think the Hawkeyes still control their own destiny to Indianapolis, but they do.
It’s simple. If they win out, they’re going to Indy.
Now, is winning out a realistic expectation for Iowa? No, but it should not be completely ruled out.
The Hawkeyes have been a much better team at home and they get Michigan and Michigan State in Iowa City the next two weekends (two winnable games). The problem is that they finish the regular season with back-to-back road games at Purdue and at Nebraska and the way they’ve played away from home this season suggest they could easily lose both games.
But if Iowa survives at home the next two weeks and they beat a team they should beat at Purdue, it will all come down to a new rivalry game in Lincoln, Neb. on Black Friday. Who knows what could happen with everything on the line?
Of course this doubtful scenario won’t be possible unless Iowa beats Michigan this weekend. The Wolverines can’t afford to lose this game if they want to go to Indy and they happen to be the better team.
Still, this is a tough game to call because while Iowa has been a better team at home, it really hasn’t played a tough opponent at Kinnick Stadium. Meanwhile, Michigan has only played two road games this season, winning at Northwestern and losing at Michigan State.
I liked how Michigan’s defense performed on the road at night against Northwestern and I think they will be able to contain Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg and wide receiver Marvin McNutt. Iowa’s defense hasn’t been impressive this season and the Wolverines shouldn’t have a problem scoring.
My pick: Michigan 31, Iowa 24
On to the rest of my Big Ten picks:
Home team in CAPS
MICHIGAN STATE 31, Minnesota 13
The Gophers simply don’t have enough offense to keep up with the Spartans on the road. I think Minnesota carries some confidence over from last week and keeps it relatively close in the first half, but the Spartans will pull away.
OHIO STATE 45, Indiana 14
Braxton Miller got the Buckeye offense moving last week and Indiana has absolutely no defense. This one won’t be close.
NEBRASKA 48, Northwestern 17
Speaking of not having a defense… Northwestern. Meanwhile, Nebraska’s defense has been getting better each week, while doesn’t bode well for the Wildcats. Dan Persa won’t be shut down completely, but I can’t see Northwestern’s defense keeping the ‘Cats in the game.
WISCONSIN 38, Purdue 13
Purdue’s defense isn’t bad and that could lead to a slow start for the Badgers as they look to get over their back-to-back crushing losses. Eventually Wisconsin will wake up at home though and get the offense rolling.
Bonus Pick: No. 1 LSU at No. 2 Alabama
Adam is the Sports Content Producer for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the White Sox, Blackhawks and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.