Degree of difficulty — it’s a factor in everything from diving to gymnastics to figure skating. But nowhere is it harder to calculate — to assign a proper value to — than NCAA College Football. Strength of schedule is one of the biggest factors determining who gets to play for the National Championship. That basically means some teams are out of it from the start, if their schedule isn’t deemed up to snuff. Unless they never lose. This is the dilemma facing Iowa football — and consequently the committee that decides the four teams that make the College Football Playoffs. The Hawkeyes are 12-0 with a chance to secure a spot in the semifinal by winning the Big Ten next week. But is Iowa really one of the top four teams in the country?
The doubts come because Iowa has played three teams all season with winning records. Even their win over Nebraska isn’t credited the way it normally might be — the Cornhuskers are 5-7. Iowa must win Saturday to protect its playoff spot –it’s not a team that can get a bid with even a single blemish. There are 13 people on the committee that selects the College Football Playoffs teams. It’s an complex job given all the information that needs analysis. That’s probably why along with all the football lifers former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice sits on the committee. She’s got a lot of experience assessing the strength of the opposition. Iowa can make her job easier with a Saturday win and a Big Ten title.