We have a tendency to forget things that we actually need to remember.

Where are my keys? Where is my wallet? What is the password to literally any website I have to log in to?

That brain space is being used by memories that seemingly have no use to us. Such as this one.

Near the end of the 1993 AFC Championship game, as the Buffalo Bills were rolling toward their 4th straight Super Bowl appearance, the camera panned to a fan at Rich Stadium.

I don’t remember if it was a woman, man, or child, but I do remember the sign.


Bills fans knew the rest of the country had no appetite for watching Buffalo lose a fourth straight Super Bowl. But these were their Bills, and the rest of us were going to be stuck watching them play for a championship. Our feelings didn’t matter.

And for whatever reason, that always stuck with me. This coming Friday, I half-expect to see a fan at Kinnick Stadium holding up a similar sign.

The Iowa Hawkeyes are on the verge of their second straight Big Ten West title, their second straight Big Ten championship game appearance, and a rematch of this season’s matchup against either Michigan or Ohio State that absolutely no one outside of Iowa’s borders wants to see. Neither game demanded a sequel.

But if Iowa beats Nebraska this week, it’s exactly what we’ll get. And maybe it’s what we deserve.

It wasn’t Buffalo’s fault that no team in the early ’90s AFC was capable of beating the Bills when it counted. Hell, they once spotted the Houston Oilers a 35-3 halftime lead against a backup quarterback and those bums still folded.

And it’s not Iowa’s fault that no team in the 2020s Big Ten West is capable of beating the Hawkeyes when it counts. Iowa has a remarkable 14 consecutive wins in November going back to 2019. The Hawks haven’t lost a regular-season game after Halloween in the current decade.

Minnesota’s 13-10 Saturday night choke job against Iowa was not as epic as Houston’s 1992 Wild Card meltdown against the Bills. But in many ways, it felt just as inexplicable.

The Golden Gophers rushed for 312 yards against Iowa. That’s more than Iowa’s previous 4 opponents combined, including Ohio State.

In fact, the last time an opponent ran for more than 300 yards on Phil Parker’s defense is the last time Iowa lost a game in November. Wisconsin rushed for exactly 300 on Nov. 9, 2019.

Yet Minnesota could only muster 1 touchdown from that superlative effort. It’s everything the Gophers always have been under PJ Fleck — close, but not quite. Especially if it’s against the Hawkeyes, who are now 6-0 against Fleck.

Minnesota missed a 34-yard field goal. Another drive sputtered out at the 9-yard line, resulting in 3 points. What felt like the probable game-winning drive also ended at the Iowa 9, but far more tragically. Mohamed Ibrahim, who had an otherworldly 263 yards on 39 carries, was stripped by Jack Campbell.

And when Minnesota forced a 3-and-out to set up its next attempt at a game-winning drive, Campbell struck again.

Campbell and the rest of the Iowa defense are why the Hawkeyes once again find themselves in this position. Iowa is allowing just 13.5 points per game, which is the fewest allowed by the program since it gave up 13 per game in 2008.

And the defense has had to be that good, because it’s carrying Iowa’s least-productive offense since 2000. The Hawkeyes averaged 16.9 ppg that season, which was Kirk Ferentz’s second season after taking over for Hayden Fry. Iowa finished 3-9, which is the record you’d expect out of such an offense.

At a mere 17.5 ppg, the 2022 Hawkeyes are on the verge of playing for a conference title.

In the event Iowa actually upsets Michigan or Ohio State, it would likely be the lowest-scoring Big Ten champion since Illinois averaged 17 points per game in 1963. (The Illini had their own version of Jack Campbell playing linebacker: Dick Butkus.)

Even though Brian Ferentz’s offense isn’t anything to write home about, it is doing one thing significantly better than it was earlier this year: avoiding disaster.

The Hawkeyes committed 12 turnovers in their first 7 games. Iowa was 3-4 in those games. During its current 4-game winning streak, Iowa has just 1 giveaway compared to 8 takeaways.

Sports Betting in Big Ten Country

There is big news coming to the upcoming 2022-23 Big Ten football season (and NFL season). Ohio online sports betting and Maryland sports betting are on the way.

That’s it. That is all it takes for Iowa football to win a division title. Not for its offense to actually score; but for its offense to merely avoid shooting itself in the foot.

It’s not a style for all. Every team currently ranked in the AP Top 5 is in the top 11 nationally in scoring. Iowa is 123rd.

Whether you want to watch it or not, that offense is now overwhelmingly likely to be on display at Lucas Oil Stadium on Dec. 3.

Deal with it, America.

Around the B1G horn

Couldn’t watch every game? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

No. 2 Ohio State 43, Maryland 30

In 8 games against Maryland, this is the fewest points the Buckeyes have ever scored. The previous low was 49.

The Terrapins became the first team to outgain Ohio State’s offense this season with an ever-so-slight 402-401 edge in total yards. But Mike Locksley’s team was done in by a familiar culprit: penalties. Maryland, which is 128th nationally in penalty yardage, committed 10 penalties for 96 yards.

Surprisingly, Ohio State was similarly self-destructive with 11 flags for 97 yards. The Buckeyes need to get that out of their system before facing Michigan, which is 6th nationally in penalty yards.

No. 3 Michigan 19, Illinois 17

An agonizing loss for the Illini, who took control of the game with Blake Corum out in the second half but could not seal the deal.

And in an outcome that gave Iowa the edge in the Big Ten West race, it’s fitting that poor punting was one of the culprits. Bad punts put Michigan in ideal starting field position for 2 of its 3 fourth-quarter scoring drives.

Early in the fourth, Ronnie Bell returned a 44-yard Hugh Robertson punt 40 yards to the Illinois 38, setting up the drive that cut the margin to 17-13.

A crucial holding penalty on Illinois’ final drive with the lead brought the ball back from a 4th-and-1 at the Illinois 34 to a 3rd-and-17 at the 18. Robertson’s ensuing punt only traveled 30 yards, allowing the Wolverines to start their game-winning drive at midfield.

The margins are narrow when you’re trying to beat No. 3 on the road. Those two punts and the holding penalty are among the seemingly small moments that might have made a difference.

No. 11 Penn State 55, Rutgers 10

Taking a page from Iowa’s book — or perhaps paying homage, though there is no love lost between James Franklin and Kirk Ferentz — Penn State scored 3 return touchdowns.

Nicholas Singleton returned a kickoff 100 yards, Kalen King returned a fumble 14 yards, and Ji’Ayir Brown returned a fumble 70 yards for a score.

And if you thought Iowa’s November was impressive, Penn State is outscoring its opponents 130-24 this month.

Purdue 17, Northwestern 9

Pat Fitzgerald did a great job making this Northwestern’s kind of game. It was Purdue’s second-worst offensive performance behind its 24-3 loss to Iowa.

But with the Cats starting Cole Freeman at quarterback — No. 4 on the opening day depth chart — Northwestern couldn’t generate enough offense to pick up its 6th straight win in West Lafayette.

Indiana 39, Michigan State 31 (2 OT)

How is a stat about the service academies relevant to this game?

Because Indiana was 2-of-7 passing against Michigan State and won. Which means Army, Air Force, Navy and Indiana went 4-0 on Saturday with a combined total of 2 completions and 31 passing yards. The Hoosiers also overcame a 17-point third-quarter deficit without a single completion.

That’s wild.

Also wild: Michigan State lost despite outgaining the Hoosiers by 252 yards. The Spartans had 540 yards, which is their highest total in a loss since gaining 564 in a 37-34 loss to Wisconsin in 2007.

Wisconsin 15, Nebraska 14

The Cornhuskers fell to 1-13 in 1-possession games since 2021, which is impressive for all the wrong reasons.

This may be among the more painful of those 13 losses. Nebraska blew a 14-3 fourth-quarter lead, with Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz scoring the game-winning sneak with 35 seconds left.

With the win, Wisconsin is bowling for the 21st straight season.

Iowa 13, Minnesota 10

Oddsmakers set the total at 31.5 points, and still provided a touchdown worth of cushion for those who took the under.

The Hawkeyes won Floyd of Rosedale for the 8th straight season, extending its all-time longest winning streak over the Gophers. It’s also the longest winning streak in this rivalry since Minnesota won 8 in a row from 1931-39. It was during that streak that the first Floyd of Rosedale was awarded in 1935.

Week 12 MVPs

1. LB Jack Campbell (Iowa)

With his forced fumble and interception — both in the fourth quarter — Campbell is the single biggest reason Iowa is likely to play for a Big Ten title. Feel free to forward any complaints about having to watch the Hawkeyes to him. Though if you recall the Dick Butkus comparison, do so at your own risk.

2. RB Mohamed Ibrahim (Minnesota)

In a league full of great running backs, Ibrahim’s performance was the most impressive of the season: 263 yards on 39 carries against Iowa’s stone wall defense.

It feels terribly unfair that his late fumble had an impact on the outcome — like if Kobe Bryant missed the game-winning shot the night LeBron James knew he would go off for 81 points.

3. RB Dallan Hayden (Ohio State)

Ohio State’s third-string running back stepped up and scored 3 touchdowns in the most important game of his career. And Hayden wasn’t just a goal-line vulture — he gained 146 yards on 27 carries.

Despite being shorthanded, the Buckeyes are starting to regain their stride on the ground.

4. QB Taulia Tagovailoa (Maryland)

Tagovailoa was the best quarterback on the field Saturday, which is saying something when the other quarterback is CJ Stroud. Tagovailoa was 26-of-36 for 293 yards and 2 touchdowns.

5. K Jake Moody (Michigan)

Moody was 4-for-4 against Illinois, including 3 fourth-quarter field goals. Moody’s 35-yard kick with 9 seconds left set up the first unbeaten meeting between Michigan and Ohio State since 2006.

Play of the week

Tagovailoa’s rollout to find Jeshaun Jones on a 4th-and-goal touchdown pass was as good as it gets, particularly considering the circumstances against the No. 2 team in the nation.

But it was not as crazy as Payton Thorne’s touchdown pass to Maliq Carr, which was by no means intended for Carr.

Blooper of the week

Purdue linebacker Jalen Graham had a pick-6 wiped out for the crime of high-stepping. The officials here are like cops who actually write tickets for jaywalking.