That’s what makes their conference a varsity league. 8-1 don’t mean a lot against the rest. If you’re saying the east and West divisions are comparable, well, you apparently don’t follow college football very close.
The 5-7 includes a once a decade miracle win over Ohio. Not repeatable. It also includes a win over a moribund UPenn team that had given up when we played them in 2020. Take those away and you're staring down the barrel of 3-9. But if you selectively choose a time period you can really make a point. At the end of the day, Iowa is a lesser program than Ohio, UPenn and Michigan. We are probably on par with Sparty. On our side we are a lesser program than Wisconsin and a better program, at least in this recent decade, than all the other teams in the East. Your mandatory schedule makes a big deal in how good your record is.
Look at Auburn. They have to play freaking Georgia, Bama, LSU and A&M every year. No thanks. Those teams have won 62.5% of the nattys in the CFP era. And oh by the way they've played Clemson, the winner of another 25% of nattys in the CFP era thrice in the past decade. You could have the legit and undisputed fourth or fifth best team in the country and end up 9-3 when you play a schedule like that. It's a lot different than Iowa backing into 10-4 with losses to teams like Kentucky, Wisconsin and Purdue and a blowout loss to Michigan.