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Resurgent Hawkeyes Still in the Hunt in the Big Ten West

The Iowa Hawkeyes suffered a setback last weekend in their drive to claim their first Big Ten conference championship since 2004. The Hawkeyes (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) dropped a disappointing 38-31 decision to the Maryland Terrapins, their first loss of the season in Big Ten conference play, dropping them a game back of Minnesota with five games against conference opponents remaining.

The Hawkeyes struggled in the early going of the 2014 campaign, posting early wins over Northern Iowa and Ball State, but didn’t record the big victories necessary to satisfy fans and bettors, failing to cover the spread as double-digit home favorites in either game.

It appeared the Hawkeyes’ season could be in serious trouble after they blew a 14-3 halftime lead over rival Iowa State a week later, with the Cyclones kicking a game-winning field goal with time running out, handing Iowa a 20-17 defeat and their third ATS loss of the season.

But what a difference a week makes. The Hawkeyes traveled to Pittsburgh as 6.5-point road underdogs, in college football odds available at bettingsports, and led by RB Mark Weisman’s two second-half rushing TDs, rallied to a 24-20 win over the Panthers.

The Hawkeyes followed up with a pair of conference wins over Purdue and Indiana, but their loss to the Terrapins in Week 8 likely means they will have to run the table down the stretch to preserve their chances at winning the Big Ten West division and earning a berth in the Big Ten Conference Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, and a potential date in the Fiesta Bowl or Chick-fil-A Bowl.

With a much needed bye coming up this weekend, the Hawkeyes will have the opportunity to rest up before their push down the home stretch.

After a Week 10 matchup with Northwestern, a team the Hawkeyes has beaten soundly in two of their last three meetings, Iowa faces a crucial test in Week 11 against Minnesota, who currently leads the Big Ten West division with a 3-0 record.

While the Hawkeyes have posted decisive wins over the Golden Gophers in their last two meetings, Minnesota has been playing outstanding football of late, 4-0 SU in their last four, 3-1 ATS.

A win over the undefeated Golden Gophers is a must for the Hawkeyes, and could set the stage for a showdown with No. 16 Nebraska in the final week of the regular season.

The Cornhuskers (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) jumped three spots in the AP Top 25 rankings this week after thumping Northwestern 38-17. But the Huskers’ 27-22 loss to Michigan State in Week 6 leaves them with an identical record to Iowa in conference play, setting the stage for a possible showdown with the division championship on the line when they meet in Week 14 at Kinnick Stadium.

Barring a total collapse by Nebraska in the final weeks of the regular season, the Cornhuskers will likely be pegged as heavy favorites over Iowa. But with a 10-win season very much in reach for the first time since 2009, the Hawkeyes faithful have plenty to be excited about in the final weeks of the 2014 college football season.

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