Theory: a 10-win team lurks in the Big Ten West

Vegas gave every team in the Big Ten West a season win total of 8.5 or worse. Only two teams, Northwestern and Iowa, got to nine wins last year, and they both needed a bowl win to do it. But is there a sleeping giant in the division waiting to surprise us?

Tue – Nov 26

Ron Turner

Ron Zook

Rondale Moore

Ronnie Harmon

Ron Dayne

Ron Dayne

Minnesota hasn't won 10 games in the regular season since 1905. That team beat some squads you'd recognize today - Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern - and they also beat Twin Cities High. What the Gophers have done this year may not be sustainable into 2020 and beyond, but that doesn't matter today. They've showed up in big moments, given themselves a chance to win the division, and, perhaps most importantly, proven that I am not a total college football idiot.

Thu – Nov 21

Ron Turner

Ron Zook

Rondale Moore

Ronnie Harmon

Ron Dayne

Ron Dayne

There's only one way this prediction DOESN'T pan out. This weekend, Minnesota has to lose to Northwestern and Wisconsin has to lose to Purdue, and then Wisconsin has to beat Minnesota the following week. I am somewhat pessimistic by nature, but I have a very, very, very hard time seeing how all three of these things happen. So I'm going to go ahead and declare this a lock. Good job me, who knew this would happen at the start of the season because I'm very smart.

Wed – Nov 13

Ron Turner

Ron Zook

Rondale Moore

Ronnie Harmon

Ron Dayne

Ron Dayne

We sit here in mid-November with two possible 10 win Big Ten West teams remaining. Wisconsin is the unsurprising one; the Badgers had five straight years with at least nine regular season wins until last year's 8-5 team. Minnesota is the polar opposite, with more 2-win seasons (6) than double-digit win seasons (5) in school history. Really, the Gophers are the truer spiritual representative of the chaos that has been the West this year. Illinois is bowl eligible for the first time in five years. Northwestern is in real danger of not winning a conference game for the first time since 1998. Give 6-3 Iowa the right 17 points and they'd be undefeated. And, to bring it full circle, we have our most surprising likelihood of all: that the Wisconsin-Minnesota game on Nov. 30 might leave us with two 10 win West teams.

Wed – Nov 6

Ron Turner

Ron Zook

Rondale Moore

Ronnie Harmon

Ron Dayne

Rondale Moore

Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota all took a big week off in Week 10. We're standing pat for now as Minnesota faces its biggest test this upcoming weekend.

Wed – Oct 30

Ron Turner

Ron Zook

Rondale Moore

Ronnie Harmon

Ron Dayne

Rondale Moore

We have three teams left that can get me to my goal. Minnesota (8-0) has the best shot; as long as they beat Northwestern and one of our other two West contenders, we're golden. (See what I did there? DAD JOKES!) The other option is for whoever wins Iowa-Wisconsin on November 9th to go undefeated the rest of the way. Our nightmare scenario: both the Hawkeyes and Badgers beat Minnesota, but drop a game after 11/9. Now that I've said it, it'll definitely happen.

Tue – Oct 22

Ron Turner

Ron Zook

Rondale Moore

Ronnie Harmon

Ron Dayne

Ronnie Harmon

Bad: Wisconsin's unbeaten streak came to an end against...Illinois? Good: Minnesota's is intact after they dominated Rutgers. Bad: Wisconsin has to play Ohio State next, who some analysts say may be as good, if not better, than Illinois. Good: Minnesota gets to host Maryland. Assessment: Feeling a little iffier about this prediction but not willing to downgrade significantly quite yet. We reserve the right to amend that if the Terps get frisky.

Wed – Oct 16

Ron Turner

Ron Zook

Rondale Moore

Ronnie Harmon

Ron Dayne

Ron Dayne

Minnesota's 6-0 for the first time since 2003, and if they beat Rutgers (I am having a very hard time figuring out how they don't beat Rutgers), they'll be 7-0 for the first time since 1960. Yes, fellow unbeaten Wisconsin is the better team between the two, but we cannot ignore that the Golden Gophers are doing big things. Fun conversational fact: Minnesota currently has as many wins as Tennessee, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt combined.

Mon – Oct 7

Ron Turner

Ron Zook

Rondale Moore

Ronnie Harmon

Ron Dayne

Ron Dayne

Wisconsin and Minnesota made it through Week 6 still undefeated (these are things we totally expected at the start of the year), and both looked comfortable getting halfway to ten wins. I am now realizing that they play each other at the end of the regular season, which maybe possibly makes this all but a lock assuming they each find four other wins before then, which doesn't look like all that much of a stretch for either. Our backup hopes lie with Iowa and Nebraska, who also play each other at the end of the regular season, though the Huskers would have to win out (nope) and Iowa can only lose once more (maybe).

Wed – Oct 2

Ron Turner

Ron Zook

Rondale Moore

Ronnie Harmon

Ron Dayne

Ron Dayne

Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota are all 4-0 after wins in Week 5, and it's worth noting the last time the Hawkeyes started with that record, they finished the regular season 12-0 before falling to Michigan State in the conference title game. Of the three West undefeateds, they have the toughest matchup on the road in Ann Arbor, but Iowa's won five of the last six games in this series, a thing you should definitely tell Michigan fans to make them like you.

Mon – Sep 23

Ron Turner

Ron Zook

Rondale Moore

Ronnie Harmon

Ron Dayne

Ron Dayne

Wisconsin's stomping of Michigan and Nebraska's [adjective needed] win over Illinois gives the Big Ten West four teams with three wins. The Badgers and Hawkeyes should get to four wins next week, Minnesota draws a maddeningly inconsistent Purdue, and Nebraska, hosting Ohio State is the longest shot to get their fourth win. But we're still off to a very good start for this goal, and my only real worry is that the division will start eating itself.

Mon – Sep 16

Ron Turner

Ron Zook

Rondale Moore

Ronnie Harmon

Ron Dayne

Ronnie Harmon

After Week 3, the Big Ten West is home to three undefeated teams. One is Iowa, who trailed Iowa State for most of the game (when it wasn't in a rain delay) but didn't turn the ball over and played well on special teams. One is Wisconsin, who was on a bye. And the third is Minnesota, who has been on the wrong side of the scoreboard at some point during the fourth quarter in every game they've played. But those wins count the same as any other, and we can either say the Gophers are bound to run out of luck soon or decide they are a TEAM OF DESTINY! Screw it, let's be optimists.

Mon – Sep 9

Ron Turner

Ron Zook

Rondale Moore

Ronnie Harmon

Ron Dayne

Ronnie Harmon

HYPOTHESIS: Keeping your opponent's offense off the field is a good way to keep them from scoring. DATA POINT 1: After two weeks, Wisconsin is third in the nation in defensive third down conversion percentage, allowing the offense to move the chains on 14.29 percent of their tries. DATA POINT 2: Iowa is tenth at 23.08 percent. CONCLUSION: Feeling very positive about this, at least until the Big Ten teams start playing one another.

Tue – Sep 3

Ron Turner

Ron Zook

Rondale Moore

Ronnie Harmon

Ron Dayne

Ronnie Harmon

Wisconsin: 49 points. USF: Zero points. Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor: 183 yards of offense. The Bulls as a whole team: 157 yards of offense. In a road game that you thought might have potential to be interesting late, Wisconsin hammered USF and held the Bulls to their own side of the field until their very last drive. (Please ignore how every other Big Ten West team looked in Week 1.) (Except Illinois.)