Schwartz: Signs Point To Challenging Outback

December 30, 2018

Written by David Schwartz

It feels like it’s been four years since the Hawkeyes last played a football game. Here are 10 one-sentence thoughts ahead of Tuesday’s Outback Bowl against Mississippi State.

1. A partial list of football-related things that have happened since the Hawkeyes beat Nebraska in the regular-season finale: both national semifinal games have been played; Purdue’s and Michigan’s defenses combined to allow more than 100 points in bowl-game losses, signaling that maybe the Big Ten this year was/is just as bad as most non-Big Ten fans kept saying it was; Iowa’s women’s and men’s basketball teams played a combined 17 games; and Iowa State, despite losing to Washington State in the Alamo Bowl on Friday, showed that next year’s Iowa-Iowa State game could be one for the ages.

2. Out of that list, Purdue’s and Michigan’s performances are the most glaring, don’t you think?

3. I mean, Auburn was legit on pace to score 100 against the Boilermakers when Tigers coach Gus Malzahn showed mercy that must have been inspired by the holiday season when he put in what can only be described as his JV squad.

4. In some weird way, the Purdue loss is understandable, because after all this was a team that snuck into a bowl game with a 6-6 record and now finishes the year 6-7 following a loss to an Auburn team that was ranked as high as seventh in the AP poll earlier this season.

5. Michigan has no excuse.

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6. Whatever Michigan fans, Jim Delany, and football prognosticators think about Michigan, it’s probably time we adjust our expectations about the Wolverines, who gave up 62 against Ohio State and, on Saturday afternoon, 41 to the Florida Gators.

7. And here’s why this matters to the Hawkeyes, since you’re reading this on Hawkeye Nation: Michigan got blown out by a Southeastern Conference team, Purdue got blown out by a Southeastern Conference team, and in two days, Iowa will go head to head against Mississippi State—a Southeastern Conference team.

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8. And while I know life doesn’t always work this way, it’s worth noting that Mississippi State beat Auburn this season by two touchdowns—the same Auburn team that put up 56 in the first half on Purdue … the same Purdue team that defeated the Hawkeyes last month (sheesh, was that really just last month?).

9. Iowa ranks sixth in college football in total defense, while Purdue ranks—*gulp*—100th, and Mississippi State’s offense isn’t as good as Auburn’s, so it’s clear the Hawkeyes have a shot against the Bulldogs (depending how willing one is to buy into statistics).

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10. But it’s looking more and more like this year’s reputations were earned: The SEC is a tough league, the Big Ten is having a down year, and the Hawkeyes are going to have to execute at the top of their capability while severely limiting mistakes if they’re going to have a chance at beating MSU.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

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