Iowa

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

Iowa football’s 2021 campaign has been chaotic from the moment it started, to say the very least. The Hawkeyes rattled off six victories in a row to start the season, rising as high as No. 2 in the Associated Press Poll.

After its 6-0 start, Iowa was blown out in back-to-back games by Purdue and Wisconsin. In those games, the Hawkeyes only scored 14 points.

Since their loss to the Badgers Oct. 30, the Hawkeyes have rattled off four consecutive wins over Northwestern, Minnesota, Illinois, and Nebraska

During that stretch, two quarterbacks have played for Iowa: Sophomore Alex Padilla and junior Spencer Petras. Padilla played in relief of Petras against Northwestern and started versus Minnesota, Illinois, and Nebraska.

Petras then relieved Padilla at halftime against Nebraska.

Despite all of that, the Hawkeyes still won the Big Ten West Division outright — thanks to a 23-13 Minnesota win over No. 14 Wisconsin. The Badgers shared the west division lead with the Hawkeyes before Week 13 action began. Wisconsin held the tiebreaker over Iowa because the Badgers beat the Hawkeyes head-to-head.

The Badgers’ loss haphazardly launched the Hawkeyes into an outright Big Ten West title and a league championship game appearance.

In college football, chaos tends to spread from program to program like a communicable disease.

Iowa has been one of the nation’s most unpredictable teams this season. So, what’s the most chaotic thing the Hawkeyes could do next week that would impact the very fabric of this year’s college football landscape?

They could beat the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan is 11-1 and likely the only Big Ten team with any chance of making the 2021 College Football Playoff. If Iowa beats Michigan, the Wolverines will have two losses on their résumé. No two-loss team has ever made the College Football Playoff.

An Iowa win would probably vault the Hawkeyes to the Rose Bowl and eliminate the Big Ten from College Football Playoff contention because the Wolverines are the league’s only one-loss team left standing.

A College Football Playoff without a Big Ten team? That’s as chaotic as it gets. So, I expect the Hawkeyes to send the College Football Playoff Committee and the nation into a frenzy with a win over Michigan on Saturday.

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