Best Home Field Advantage in Big Ten

The Iowa Hawkeyes have had a great run on the gridiron over the last eight years, especially in Kinnick Stadium. But just how great has it been, and just how much impact does the home crowd and home field have on Iowa's win-loss record when compared to its Big Ten brethren? Jon Miller breaks it down.

What's the toughest place to play in the Big Ten? How do you go about establishing a criteria for that?

You can point to the size of the stadium, which vaults Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan to the top of the list, as their stadiums can hold more than 100,000 fans. But Michigan isn't what you would call a hostile environment, and that's not just me talking here.

Wisconsin can get loud and rowdy, and I would rank it #3 in the league behind Ohio State and Penn State as far as volume, excluding Kinnick because I am probably too biased to cast my vote there.

Bias does factor into this question, let's be honest.

So how about taking a look at something that is void of bias, like cold, hard, winning statistics?

Below is a look at how each Big Ten team has fared in league games only over the course of the last eight seasons. Even a sampling like this can be manipulated, because I chose to start with the 2001 season, since that was Iowa's first bowl game under Kirk Ferentz. But an eight year sampling is a pretty good number, so we'll just go with it.

I chose to sample league games only as to not inflate a stadium like the Metrodome as being some sort of house of horrors at home, because as we know, it's not. But they have scheduled real weak over the last decade, and most of those cupcake wins have come on their home turf.

By sampling league games only, we have leveled the playing field as much as we can.

So who has the most significant home field advantage?

HOME: 11-21
ROAD: 4-28
OVERALL: 15-49
HOME NET: +7 Wins
JON'S TAKE: When you only have four road wins, you can have a solid +7 win total at home. The truth is, Indiana has not been a good program during this time, which make's Iowa's two losses to them over the last eight years harder to swallow.

HOME: 12-20
ROAD: 10-22
OVERALL: 22-42
HOME NET: +2 Wins
JON'S TAKE: Interesting to see how close they have been, home and away, during this span, but it also takes into account some real bad football teams.

HOME: 14-18
ROAD: 9-23
OVERALL: 23-41
HOME NET: +5 Wins

HOME: 24-8
ROAD: 22-10
OVERALL: 46-18
HOME NET: +2 Wins
JON'S TAKE: Great programs will win on the road or at home, and Michigan has been a great program for seven of the last eight years.

Michigan State
HOME: 15-17
ROAD: 11-21
OVERALL: 26-38
HOME NET: +4 Wins
JON'S TAKE: I was mildly surprised to see that MSU was eight games under .500 in league play during this span, and that's after going 6-2 in league last year.

HOME: 16-16
ROAD: 11-21
OVERALL: 27-37
HOME NET: +5 Wins
JON'S TAKE: .500 ball at home is respectable for the Cats.

Ohio State
HOME: 27-5
ROAD: 25-7
OVERALL: 52-12
HOME NET: +2 Wins
JON'S TAKE: Again, they are just flat good, no matter where you play them. Does this make their home field advantage a tad overrated?

Penn State
HOME: 21-11
ROAD: 14-18
OVERALL: 35-29
HOME NET: +7 Wins
JON'S TAKE: This team is definitely better at home, and they have one of the top three home field advantages in the league.

HOME: 19-13
ROAD: 12-20
OVERALL: 31-33
HOME NET: +7 Wins
JON'S TAKE: Surprised to see how poorly they have been on the road. Their series with Iowa, under Tiller, was pretty much a home team wins affair.

HOME: 21-11
ROAD: 14-18
OVERALL: 35-29
HOME NET: +7 Wins
JON'S TAKE: There is no doubt the Badgers have one of the best home field advantages in the league. When you compare the level of talent they bring in to that of Penn State, I put the Badgers at #2 in my home field rating.

And now we have made our way down to the Iowa Hawkeyes. Even the middle of the pack teams have had a winning road record in the Big Ten, which you would expect. Only two Big Ten teams have had a winning record on the road over the last eight seasons, and those two names are not a surprise: Ohio State and Michigan. Iowa is the next closest team to the .500 mark, at 15-17.

Iowa has the third most wins in the Big Ten over the last eight years, with 40. The Hawkeyes are also 25-7 at home: Iowa
HOME: 25-7 (.781)
ROAD: 15-17 (.469)
OVERALL: 40-24
HOME NET: +10 Wins

Notice Iowa's +10 win differential when playing at Kinnick Stadium as opposed to playing on the road. Again, Iowa has the third best road record of any team in the Big Ten in league play over the past eight years, which remind us just how solid the Hawkeyes have been during that stretch. The old adage of winning all of your home games and splitting on the road is close to the mark here, or as close as the Iowa program seemingly can get over such a sample of time.

But where Iowa jumps off the page is with the +10 wins at home vs the road, easily the biggest differential of any of the teams in the league. It's three more wins than schools such as Michigan and Penn State, stadiums that seat over 100,000 fans; Iowa has won at both of those locations during the time sample. It's more than Wisconsin, and Iowa has won there a few times during the time sample. That's a stadium that flat out gets loud and crazy.

Ohio State is +2 in the differential, but let's be honest; some of their home field mystique might be chalked up to the fact that they simply have better players, and more of them, than any other team in the Big Ten over the past eight years. They have won one national title in that span, and played for two others.

Iowa has been to five ‘traditional' New Year's Day bowl games during this span, including one BCS game. Iowa is one of just five programs to say that over the course of the last seven years, as a matter of fact. USC, Oklahoma, LSU and Texas are the only other programs that have been to more legit January bowl games in that span.

So many former Big Ten players have told friends of mine, friends that played at Iowa and later in the NFL, that Kinnick Stadium was the toughest place to play.

When you look at this Big Ten data, that certainly corroborates those first hand accounts, and those carry more weight to begin with.

So take another bow, Hawkeye fans, you have earned it; Iowa has the greatest home field advantage of any team in the Big Ten.

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