"Easy Schedule" - Path to Division Title in West?

ghostOfHomer777

HR Heisman
May 20, 2014
8,448
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When the team ain't Wisconsin ... it appears like programs like Iowa and Northwestern have had a little help in the past when they've won the division. Namely, their conference schedules were on the "lighter" side. This was true for Iowa in '15 and '21 and was definitely true for Northwestern in '18 and '20.

If we look at legit competitors, not named Wisconsin, for the '22 season ... it strikes me that Purdue might have the "clearest path." Purdue gets Penn State at home ... and then their other cross-overs are away at Maryland and IU. Those away games aren't really a gauntlet.

Minnesota's path is MAYBE on the easier side too ... however, their cross-overs are at PSU and at MSU ... so there's that. However, on the other hand ... they get BOTH Iowa and Purdue at Minneapolis.

Iowa, as is well documented on this site, may have the toughest slate ... because we have to face BOTH Ohio State and Michigan ... AND the games against Purdue and Minnesota are BOTH away games.

Northwestern appears as though they might be a little better than I expected ... but my guess is still that they're more apt to play spoiler than be true threat for the division.
 
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Franchise021

Rookie
Feb 2, 2004
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As a rational Purdue fan… I’d agree, but I really think Minnesota is in a great spot… I feel like they have the best combination of offense/defense/schedule of all the West teams with us included… Plus they have our number it seems… That said, Iowa’s defense is the best in the West and should be in every game with the probable exception of the OSU one… It wouldn’t surprise me if 6-3 wins the West with some crazy tiebreaker scenarios unfolding…
 

ghostOfHomer777

HR Heisman
May 20, 2014
8,448
9,708
113
As a rational Purdue fan… I’d agree, but I really think Minnesota is in a great spot… I feel like they have the best combination of offense/defense/schedule of all the West teams with us included… Plus they have our number it seems… That said, Iowa’s defense is the best in the West and should be in every game with the probable exception of the OSU one… It wouldn’t surprise me if 6-3 wins the West with some crazy tiebreaker scenarios unfolding…
My hang up with Minnesota is that line-play is often a significant determiner for how teams fare against Wisconsin and Iowa. In the trenches, both Iowa and Wisconsin tend to be maulers ... and that has led both programs to win a lot of games.

While David Bell was certainly very impressive ... it was Purdue's line play (on both sides) that gave them the upper hand against Iowa last year. The Purdue OL neutered Iowa's pass-rush ... and Purdues DL harassed Iowa's offense into submission. As an Iowa fan ... I was ashamed ... because that rarely happens.

When Minnesota managed to beat Wisconsin last year ... in no small part ... they leaned VERY heavily upon being veteran on BOTH lines.

So, what am I getting at here? It strikes me that Minnesota is having to rebuild too much on BOTH lines. That will make their path harder ... even with some of the shiny skill-guys they have at their disposal (both top RBs are impressive guys ... they have some decent WRs too). I don't think they repeat beating Wisconsin. Also, by being rebuilt in the trenches ... that sets them up more to lose to "spoiler" teams.
 

MilleGinja

HR MVP
Aug 30, 2017
1,160
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It’s Northwestern’s year. They went 3-9 last year, so they are sure to win 10 this year. They make no sense