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Go Gophers? 

Go Gophers! 

If Iowa Football juniors Kaevon Merriweather and Sam LaPorta can do it, so can you Hawkeye fans. 

Two weeks after knocking off rival Minnesota in the annual Battle for Floyd of Rosedale, Iowa needs a Gopher win Saturday against Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes win their first Big Ten West championship since 2015 in that scenario. 

Iowa took care of its part Friday, knocking off Nebraska, 28-21, in Lincoln for a 7-2 conference finish. The Badgers equal it with the victory and would win the tiebreaker based on the head-to-head triumph, 27-7, Oct. 30 in Madison. 

Technically, Iowa gets a share of the division and a trophy. It doesn't go the championship game, however, if Wisconsin wins Saturday. That's what matters most. 

The Hawkeyes sit at 10-2, just the fourth time in program history they've reached double digit wins in a regular season. Each individual must decide the level of satisfaction in this campaign. 

In your eyes, is it a good season or a great season? Would you go so far as to label it a special season? 

Since I'm asking that of you, I probably should weigh in. My vote is for good season at this point. A great or special season remains on the table, however. 

Saturday's game in Minneapolis determines that. A West Division title is a must. For me, that's where the bar is set for a great or special season. 

It's semantics, of course. My good season might be viewed as great by someone else. That's cool. It's sports, not a scientific breakthrough. 

The Hawkeyes' 2002 and 2004 rank as special seasons for me. I'd classify '09 and '15 as great seasons. That's me, doesn't have to be you.

The first two ended in Big Ten championships, '04 being the last one for the program. They started 9-0 in '09, had memorable victories against Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Michigan, and won the Orange Bowl. Six years later resulted in an unbeaten regular season, a West crown and coming within a late Michigan State touchdown of reaching the College Football Playoff. 

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This season has witnessed its high points. The Week 2 win at Iowa State represented the first time in history both teams played while ranked in the Top 10. The dramatic victory against Penn State in a meeting of Top 5 teams was thrilling and elicited a field storm. 

The great and special years need those signature memories. They stick with you. Think Tate to Holloway in Orlando or Stanzi to McNutt in East Lansing. 

Nobody should turn his or her nose up at a 10-win season around here. Fans at Nebraska and Illinois dream of it. Instead, they're stuck in a Groundhog Day-like nightmare. 

It's been a good season. I could even go as far as very good. It should be remembered fondly no matter what happens. 

It also required context. The 10 victories have come against teams with a combined record of 46-64 heading into Friday's action. Four of them (Iowa State, Minnesota, Penn State, Kent State) had clinched bowl berths and all of them had lost at least four times. Iowa did not face East Division standouts Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State in '21.  

There will be a void without the West outright title. It would be six years without a Big Ten championship game appearance for a program that should expect it more frequently in Year 23 of a head coaching regime. 

This season was tracking to be special. A 6-0 start had Iowa No. 2 in the country. Iowa controlled its own destiny even after losing to Purdue in Game 7. It just needed a win the following week in Madison to keep control. 

The Hawkeyes' personal Groundhog Day played out again at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin took control away from Iowa by winning for the eighth time in the series' last 10 meetings. 

"It was kind of depressing," Merriweather said earlier this week. "We were talking about going to the playoffs and winning the Big Ten West. It's been a success but probably not where we want to be. We want to go to the Big Ten Championship (Game)." 

A win Saturday gives the Badgers their fifth West title in eight years. Northwestern owns two. Iowa has one. In that span, the Hawkeyes are 6-10 against those division rivals. 

All of the above makes Saturday's Wisconsin-Minnesota outcome extra important for Iowa. Ironically, the hated Gophers can help determine how this season is remembered in Iowa City. 

So, hold your nose, Hawkeye fans. 

"Go Gophers, I guess," LaPorta said.