Poll Position: Don't overlook the grind-it-out Iowa Hawkeyes
|ASSOCIATED PRESS POLL|
The hares keep sprinting and stalling, but the tortoises, slowly but surely, just keep on moving.
For instance, No. 11 Florida State is an upset of No. 5 Clemson away from a clear path to the playoff, Stanford is No. 15 and is tied with 23rd-ranked Cal for the number one spot in the Pac-12 North, and No. 17 Iowa only has one ranked team left on their schedule.
Clemson is heavily favored over the Noles, and I don't think anyone is expecting an upset in that contest. Stanford has to welcome UCLA to Palo Alto this week and finishes the season against Cal and No. 14 Notre Dame, a rocky road to say the least.
But, for Iowa, the road looks clear and smooth after this week.
The Hawkeyes have to visit a disappointed Northwestern squad who were just dealt their first loss of the season. But make no mistake: The 20th-ranked Wildcats are definitely not a team to sleep on.
Their game next week is sure to be a close struggle between two stout defenses. It's hard to say who will be able to break through, but Iowa is playing to stay undefeated, while Northwestern has got to feel a little deflated.
Iowa has shown they have what it takes to come out on top of a defensive gridlock, forcing four turnovers to upset then-No. 19 Wisconsin 10-6 in Madison.
Of course, even if the Hawkeyes earn the hard-fought W next week and coast on through the remainder of the regular season, they've got quite a challenge in the Big Ten Championship with whoever ends up on top of the East.
But, it's a championship game and anything can happen, and no one will say an undefeated B1G champion, even if it's Iowa, doesn't get in the playoff.
It may sound like a pipe dream, but, trust me, you don't wanna sleep on the Hawkeyes.