Can Kirk Ferentz Lead the Iowa Hawkeyes to the Playoffs?

min read
Week 9 CFB
BetMGM Staff @BETMGM Oct 25, 2021, 1:01 PM

At the start of the season, Iowa ripped off six straight wins to jump to number 2 in the AP Poll. Now, after a devastating loss at home to Purdue, the Hawkeyes’ post-season fate is uncertain. With their college football national championship odds at +6600, picking Iowa would be a nice payout, but is it realistic?

The good news is that Kirk Ferentz now knows what his team must do to make the playoffs: win every game from here on out.

Iowa City Blues

The buzz in Iowa City hit a fever pitch after the Hawkeyes pulled off a win over Penn State. Never mind that Sean Clifford was out with an injury for most of the game. A win is a win, and Iowa seemed destined for a Big Ten West title and the Big Ten championship game appearance.

All that came crashing down when Purdue came into town and kicked the Hawkeyes around for 60 minutes. Iowa, a team that thrives on the turnover margin, was impaled upon their own sword, losing the ball four times to the Boilermakers.

However, the reality is that a Big Ten Championship appearance was almost certainly never going to be enough for Iowa to sneak into the playoff: they needed to win the Big Ten outright. And they still do.

Their strength of schedule thus far is in the top 25, but their remaining opponents are a combined 18-19. Iowa has also never passed the dreaded “eye test.” Their best wins are over an underperforming Iowa State team and a Penn State team that didn’t have their quarterback and, even with him, just lost to Illinois.

Road to the Big Ten Title Game

While the loss to Purdue may have seemed catastrophic, the big picture for Iowa hasn’t changed. They still control their destiny: win, and they could find themselves in the playoffs.

The Big Ten East is very much up for grabs. Ohio State is the presumptive favorite, but nobody would be too shocked to see Michigan or Michigan State in the title game, and Penn State isn’t out of it completely. So a win over any of these teams in the Big Ten championship, along with winning their remaining games, could still get Iowa in the playoffs.

As stated above, the Hawkeyes’ remaining five opponents are a combined 18-19. ESPN has them favored in four of the five matchups. Realistically though, this is not a cakewalk.

Games at Northwestern and home against Illinois should be straightforward. But Minnesota has quietly overcome early losses to get to 5-2, and Iowa has to go on the road to both Wisconsin and Nebraska.

Follow the Kirk Ferentz Formula

Regardless of the “eye test,” Iowa needs to embrace its identity. They play tough, slow grind football with a suffocating defense and just enough offense to survive. It may not be pretty, but Kirk Ferentz’s method works as long as Iowa can stay on top of turnovers.

Quarterback Spencer Petras has struggled, throwing 9 TDs and 6 INTs. Iowa needs him to play smarter, but more importantly, they need to get the game out of his hands. Tyler Goodson is the best weapon on offense. Goodson is a powerful back who can churn out 4-yard runs at will and shorten the game: exactly how Iowa thrives.

If Iowa can maintain ball security, they can beat Wisconsin the same way they beat Penn State—win the time-of-possession battle and the turnover battle. Since they play at home, I like their chances against Minnesota. The season finale at Nebraska is tricky—the Huskers are a lot better than their record indicates—but it’s doable if they stick to the plan.

The Bottom Line

Iowa has at least a fair chance of winning out the rest of the regular season and reaching the Big Ten title game at 11-1. But the matchup against a Big Ten East powerhouse is daunting.

Kirk Ferentz excels at getting his teams to play up to their potential. Unfortunately, I believe that the hill is just too big to climb for Iowa, but college football is a strange sport.

Do you think that Iowa has a chance to sneak into the playoffs? Sign up for an account at BetMGM’s Iowa sports betting site today. You can place your bet on all of this season’s NCAA football action.

Bet on College Football at BetMGM

At BetMGM, you can bet on college football with updated college football lines, One Game Parlays, college football live betting, and more. The best online sports betting experiences are at the BetMGM sportsbook throughout the season.

Jamie Foxx holding a mobile phone next to the BetMGM's risk-free bet offer.
About the Author

BetMGM Staff

Read More @BETMGM

Our BetMGM authors are sports experts, with a wealth of knowledge of the sports betting industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news across players, teams and coaches, providing betting previews and predictions, fun facts and more.

Our BetMGM authors are sports experts, with a wealth of knowledge of the sports betting industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news across players, teams and coaches, providing betting previews and predictions, fun facts and more.