The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

PCP | Will Iowa win the Big Ten West Division?

Sports Reporter Jake Olson has faith in the Hawkeyes, while Sports Reporter Keaton Speicher is dubious.
Grace Smith
Iowa running back Max White and his teammates celebrate White’s touchdown during a football game between Iowa and Western Michigan at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Broncos, 41-10. White rushed the ball three yards and a touchdown.


When the 2023 football schedule was announced, I immediately knew the Iowa football team had a great chance to win the Big Ten West Division. 

The Hawkeyes drew a very favorable mix of non-conference and Big Ten games that could lead to a second trip to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, in three years. 

Iowa took care of business against Utah State, Iowa State, and Western Michigan, setting the Hawkeyes up for the hardest game of the season against the Nittany Lions.

Even with the conference-opening loss to Penn State, 31-0, Iowa still has a great chance to punch its ticket to Indianapolis, Indiana. 

It certainly helps that this is an overall down year for the west division. Only two teams currently hold winning records: the Wisconsin Badgers and the Hawkeyes. 

Traditional Big Ten West Division competitors such as Minnesota, Nebraska, and the 2022 Big Ten West Division champion Purdue Boilermakers have all disappointed this season. 

The division’s results will ultimately come down to the Iowa and Wisconsin game played in Madison, Wisconsin, on Oct. 14. Every other game should easily favor the Hawkeyes. 

But the Hawkeyes will be aided by the Ohio State Buckeyes, who the Badgers square off against — and will most likely lose to — in Week Nine.

If the Hawkeyes take care of business against every other opponent this season, they will make a trip to Indianapolis regardless of the result in Madison.


As much as I hate to say it, Iowa will not win the Big Ten West Division this year. 

Although the Hawkeyes have one of the easiest schedules in the entire country, they just don’t have what it takes to go all the way.

The offense is better than it’s been in recent years. Putting up 41 points against Western Michigan was nice to see, but against any high-caliber team, it won’t be enough. 

The Iowa offense is so easily telegraphed. Every team knows what the Hawkeyes will do before they do it: Run on first down and throw on second down almost every single time. 

It’s not hard to beat a team when you know what it’s going to do. 

On defense, the absences of Jack Campbell, Riley Moss, and Lukas Van Ness to the NFL are strongly felt. Our defense isn’t what it was last year, and even with the slight offensive improvement, Iowa isn’t a team that can win without amazing play in that area. 

Coming off a brutal and, frankly, embarrassing loss to Penn State, Iowa theoretically has an easy walk to win out, but how many times have we seen Iowa lose to teams it should be blowing out?

Take Purdue beating No. 2 Iowa at home in 2021. 

Seemingly easy games like Northwestern, Michigan State, and Minnesota are all going to be bigger challenges than they seem, and with the way Iowa has been playing so far this year, I don’t see it passing the test. 

That is not to mention that we will still have to go through Wisconsin, a team that gives Iowa a close game almost every time. 

Iowa will finish the season 9-3 with a loss to Wisconsin and a close game with either Nebraska or Minnesota, so some other team that plays with more passion and more energy will come in and take the Big Ten West Division yet again. 

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About the Contributors
Jake Olson, Sports Reporter
Email: [email protected] Jake Olson is a Sports Reporter for The Daily Iowan. In his three years with the paper, he has covered everything from rowing to basketball. He is studying journalism and mass communication with a minor in sports and rec management.
Keaton Speicher, Sports Reporter
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.