INDIANAPOLIS – No one knows about them. They have no marquee players or big-name head coaches or players. They are probably the quietest undefeated team in college football.
That is perfectly okay with the 12-0 Iowa Hawkeyes.
How can a team that is ranked fourth in the country and has beaten two ranked teams in No.19 Wisconsin and No.20—both on the road by the way!—manage to be largely ignored by fans, media and even their own conference. Some have chosen to all but dismiss the Hawkeyes because of their fortuitous schedule in not having to play conference heavyweights Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State.
As the Hawkeyes are set to face the aforementioned Spartans in the B1G Ten Championship Game, they go in as a 3.5 underdog against the rough-and-tumble Spartans, who have a quarterback in Connor Cook, a rugged defense and most recently all but ended Ohio State’s hopes of defending their title.
But like they have all year, the Hawkeyes have just played their game and won. Nothing flashy, just old-school smashmouth Midwestern football that would make Woody Hayes and Bo Schembelcher blush.
Led by one of THE most underrated best coaches in all of football in Kirk Ferentz, Iowa is 60 minutes away from doing the impossible in beating an established powerhouse such as Michigan State.
While he isn’t a conference household name such as Cook, Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers or Ohio State’s Joey Bosa, Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard has quietly evolved into a real leader for the blue-collar Hawkeyes in passing for 2,354 yards, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Not eye-popping numbers by any means, but then again, Iowa isn’t about style.
What is Iowa’s meat-and-potatoes is their running game, led by their senior running back Jordan Canzeri’s 12 rushing touchdowns and 964 yards, LeShun Daniels Jr.’s 592 yards and eight touchdowns and Akrum Wadley’s 449 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.
Can you take a guess as to who Iowa’s four-leading rusher is? You guessed it, the aforementioned Beathard, as he has rushed for 285 yards on the ground and six touchdowns.
While they have no game-breakers at wideout, Iowa is led by senior wide receiver Matt VandeBerg in receiving yards (625), receptions (59) and junior tight end George Kittle in touchdown receptions (6).
Unheralded, unnoticed and flying under the radar, the Hawkeyes may very well swoop in and away with a conference—and possible—national title as well.