IOWA CITY, Iowa – The social-media battle lines have been drawn for a while.
It’s Iowa versus the rest of the college football world, or so it seems.
Some people really seem bothered by the undefeated Hawkeyes suddenly being relevant again.
“We’re not claiming anything,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said after Saturday’s 31-15 victory over Maryland at Kinnick Stadium. "We’re getting ready for our next football game. Our goal the first week was to win a game, and then ever since then it’s just been to win another game, win the next game. We’re trying to keep it as simple as that.
“The good thing about football is no style points, and when you win, it’s beautiful, and when you lose, it’s not so good. That’s kind of how we look at the world and it’s about as simple as that.”
That’s exactly how the Iowa players and coaches should look at it, but for everybody else, it’s not that simple.
Iowa’s eighth consecutive victory on Saturday was greeted with another wave of jokes, criticism, skepticism and ridicule on social media, especially on Twitter where antagonists always are lurking and waiting to lash out.
Hawkeye fans have fought back admirably by trying to expose and dispel what they consider an injustice.
But it’s not just fans.
Mike Hall, who works as a studio host for the Big Ten Network, has been defending the Hawkeyes on Twitter as if he graduated from the University of Iowa instead of from Missouri.
His affiliation with the Big Ten Network probably gives Iowa the benefit of the doubt with Hall. But some of Iowa’s critics also are biased or they have an agenda or an allegiance that would suffer if Iowa somehow makes it to the four-team playoff.
In this case, I’m biased. I pride myself in being objective and not being a Hawkeye homer. But heck yes, I’d like to see Iowa run the table and qualify for the playoff, for my sake and for the sake of the team.
I’m hardly delusional, though, because I know that one loss would drop Iowa from any playoff consideration, even if it would come in the Big Ten championship game in overtime against Ohio State to drop Iowa’s record to 12-1.
Most Iowa fans probably know that, too, or they should.
The glamour teams like Notre Dame, Alabama and Ohio State could absorb one defeat and still be a playoff contender, but not Iowa.
Hawkeye fan don’t have to be reminded that Iowa isn’t a superpower and probably never will be. But Iowa is undefeated two-thirds of the way through its regular-season schedule despite a rash of injuries. So whether you like it or not, the Hawkeyes are relevant for this season.
Whether you want to respect Iowa or not, that’s up to you. But you can’t ignore the Hawkeyes because no team from a power five conference that is 8-0 can be ignored.
From the naysayers’ point of view, Iowa’s biggest flaw besides its lack of tradition is its much-maligned schedule because it leaves much to be desired, considering Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and Penn State aren’t on it.
But Iowa’s schedule isn’t as bad as it is being made out to be.
I read on Twitter that there are 11 FBS teams that are still undefeated and that Iowa’s schedule strength ranks third behind only Clemson and Louisiana State.
Iowa also has three victories against FBS teams with 6-2 records – Pittsburgh, Wisconsin and Northwestern – and all three of those teams have been ranked at some point this season.
Iowa’s next game is Saturday at Indiana. A victory would do nothing to help Iowa’s brand, but a loss would be devastating.
The critics would flood Twitter with tweets saying I told you so before dismissing the Hawkeyes.
The ultimate goal for any team from a power five conference is to make the four-team playoff and compete for a national championship.
That goal still is within Iowa’s reach, much to the dismay of those who refuse to take the Hawkeyes seriously.
My advice to them is get over it because this much perfection shouldn’t have to be defended.