College Football Coverage: Iowa-Minnesota Angle For Position In The Big Ten

The marquee games of the college football Week 5 card are the quartet of LSU-Georgia, Oklahoma-Notre Dame, Ole Miss-Alabama and Wisconsin-Ohio State. But underneath the glitter are several games worth at least checking out, especially with more conference games now on the docket.

TheSportsNotebook’s college football coverage will be back later this week with a look at the four marquee games. For now, let’s whet our appetites with a look at the most notable games on the undercard, going conference-by-conference. There’s more going on in the Big Ten then Badgers-Buckeyes and it starts with a rivalry battle that could have postseason stakes at the prize.

At first I cringed when I saw Iowa-Minnesota go into the 3:30 PM ET slot for ABC/ESPN2, opposite Florida State-Boston College. But while this game will deservedly get buried in the ratings by OU-Notre Dame and LSU-Georgia in the same spot, it’s got some definite intrigue in the push for minor bowls in the Big Ten.

Iowa has shown a little life since an opening day home loss to Northern Illinois, and the Gophers are 4-0, including taking apart of good Mountain West team in San Jose State. The winner sets themselves up very well for bowl eligibility and allows itself the luxury of thinking about spoiler status in the Legends Division race, where none of Michigan, Nebraska, Michigan State or Northwestern really inspire awe.

The Big Ten also needs to avoid embarrassment, something it has not exactly excelled at in recent years. Illinois needs to care of winless Miami-Ohio. You wouldn’t think this would be a problem, but the Illini did struggle with Southern Illinois. And another Big Ten-MAC game promises even bigger problems—Purdue hosts Northern Illinois.

While no one is going to make a big deal out of it if the Boilermakers lose, that’s part of the Big Ten’s problem—no one bats an eye anymore if their borderline bowl teams lose to the MAC, and that needs to change. The only way to change it is for Purdue to win this game and show how wide the gap is between the two conferences. At least that’s where perception-changing has to start and the Big Ten has a long way to go.

SEC: Good Games Beyond The Glitter
Pac-12: An Interesting Saturday Night Trifecta
Big 12: Looking To Quietly Build A Resume
ACC: Coastal Division Showdown
MidmajorsFriday Night Out West; Saturday In The MAC