Point-Counterpoint: Who will win the Big Ten West?
This season’s Iowa-Wisconsin game had big ramifications, but the race to Indianapolis isn’t over yet. The Badgers and Hawkeyes still seem to be the favorites, and they both have a chance to take home the West Division title.
September 24, 2018
I’m not usually one for overreactions, but it’s clear that the Big Ten West title is remaining in Badger-land this year.
It’s fun to play the “what if” game and wonder if cleaner Hawkeye special-team play would have changed the outcome of Wisconsin’s Sept. 22 game against the Hawkeyes, but the truth is the Badgers deserved to win.
Despite a seemingly flukey loss to BYU, this Wisconsin team is good. Very good.
There are a few reasons for this, and the quarterback is one. Alex Hornibrook proved a lot against a good Iowa defense. He passed for 205 yards and threw 3 touchdowns. Oh, and he didn’t throw any interceptions, which is quite a bit better than the 3 he threw against the Hawkeye defense last season.
His improvement from last year is immense. If he continues that level of play, and Wisconsin keeps sophomore star Jonathan Taylor healthy, the Badgers are not only a shoo-in to win the West, but are a threat to win the Big Ten title.
While the Iowa offense has shown improvement, the Wisconsin defense made stops when it needed them. Big plays came especially from the Badger linebackers.
While the Hawkeye offensive line didn’t give up any sacks, senior Ryan Connelly forced some bad throws from Nate Stanley. And Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Edwards grabbed the last-chance throw from Stanley to seal the Badger win.
Wisconsin’s schedule is fairly favorable, as well. The tougher games for it come against Michigan and Penn State, which have both proven quite vulnerable.
Having won this head-to-head against Iowa, the West title is Wisconsin’s for the taking. A trip to Indianapolis is in the cards for the Badgers, and they have reason to be excited about this team.
It is definitely a stretch after last weekend’s game, but Iowa could still be Big Ten West Champions.
In recent years, the Wisconsin-Iowa game has decided the winner of the Big Ten West. This year, that game does not have to be the deciding factor for Iowa’s fate.
Iowa still has eight games to change everyone’s opinion and show the team’s true potential. After four games this season, the Hawkeyes are still struggling on offense and getting things going in the first half.
Last weekend, we saw a glimpse of what Iowa’s offense can look like when it gets hot. But it was overshadowed by miscues. If the Hawkeyes can eliminate mistakes and get the offense going in the first half, they still have a chance of being Big Ten West champions.
It is a lot easier said than done, as they would need to win out. Iowa has eight games left with some notable teams that could potentially be deciding factors.
Iowa should not overlook any team, because it tends to play at the same level as its opponents.
Three games the Hawkeyes should give extra focus to are Minnesota, Maryland, and Penn State.
Other than that, Iowa has some potentially easy games to finish off the rest of the season. The only other team I think that can give Iowa a run for the Big Ten West Championship is Wisconsin, but the Badgers may also need to win out.