By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Iowa football team was considered slightly above average heading into the season and nothing really has changed at the midway point of the regular-season.
Iowa is ranked sixth in my latest Big Ten power rankings, which is slightly above average.
Penn State continues to hold down the top spot, but Ohio State still is the best team on paper, and is now showing signs of it, while Michigan State is showing signs that last season’s 3-9 record was an aberration.
1. Penn State, 6-0, 3-0 – Iowa State’s mammoth upset over Oklahoma was the second most shocking thing to occur in college football this past weekend behind Saquon Barkley being held to a minus-1 yard rushing in the first half against Northwestern. He came on strong in the second half and finished with 75 rushing yards and two touchdowns during the 31-7 victory. But for one half, Barkley seemed human, which we saw no signs of against Iowa.
2. Wisconsin, 5-0, 2-0 – It was kind of strange watching a team with the colors red and white march up and down the field at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln behind an overpowering rushing attack, and have not be Nebraska. But I also still have a big tube television, listen to compact discs and pay bills with checks. So I’m obviously stuck in the past or my soul has been taken over by a Nebraska fan.
3. Ohio State, 5-1, 3-0 – The Buckeyes allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown, a blocked field goal, a botched extra-point attempt and had two players ejected for targeting, and yet, still crushed a pretty good Maryland team 62-14 this past Saturday on the road. Ohio State could make the same mistakes against Nebraska this Saturday and probably still win easily.
4. Michigan State 4-1, 2-0 – Mark Dantonio is 8-3 against Michigan, and that’s without having sleepovers with 5-star recruits.
5. Michigan, 4-1, 1-1 – Jim Harbaugh as the Michigan head coach is a combined 1-4 against Michigan State and Ohio State and 0-1 against Iowa. He also lost to his brother in the Super Bowl and was the quarterback for Michigan’s second-ranked team in 1985 that lost to top-ranked Iowa 12-10 at Kinnick Stadium. And he’s kind of strange.
6. Iowa, 4-2, 1-2 – The Hawkeyes are 10 points from being undefeated, but also just four points from being 3-3. Which of those facts you choose to emphasize might say a lot about your outlook on life.
7. Purdue, 3-2, 1-1 – First-year Purdue coach Jeff Brohm was inducted into the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2014. The Louisville native and former star quarterback might be inducted into Purdue’s Hall of Fame by November if this stunning turnaround continues.
8. Maryland, 3-3, 1-1 – The Terrapins scored 51, 63 and 31 points, respectively, in victories over Texas, Towson and Minnesota, but also allowed 62 points in a loss to Ohio State this past Saturday. Not sure what that means besides that Ohio State is really good.
9. Nebraska 3-3, 2-1 – In addition to honoring its 1997 national champion team this past Saturday in Lincoln, Nebraska should have used the best run stoppers from that team on defense against Wisconsin.
10. Indiana, 3-2, 0-2 – Not since the Cutters upset the favored fraternity team in the Little 500 in the 1979 movie classic “Breaking Away” has Bloomington seen anything as extraordinary or as unexpected as the Indiana defense pitching a shutout in football, as it did this past Saturday against Charleston Southern. The 27-0 victory was Indiana’s first shutout since 1993.
11. Minnesota, 3-2, 0-2 – P.J. Fleck has been described as somebody who’s always on, who never sleeps and who’s always hungry. That sounds more like a disorder than a football coach.
12. Northwestern, 2-3, 0-2 – In order to cheer up his players, Pat Fitzgerald reminds them that the team’s overall grade-point average is close to Iowa’s 3.7 yards-per-carry average as a team.
13. Illinois, 2-3, 0-2 – The Fighting Illini stayed close to Iowa for three quarters, which proves they weren’t looking ahead to this Saturday’s game against Rutgers at home.
14. Rutgers, 1-4, 0-2 – And speaking of the Scarlet Knights, I can’t confirm it, but have heard that they spent the bye week trying to schedule more bye weeks.