After being in the CFP poll for the first two releases, the Iowa football team has been on the outside. They will be ranked again after beating Nebraska.
This season has been disappointing to say the least. Iowa football fans were gaining excitement about College Football Playoff possibilities and at the very least, a Big Ten Championship game birth. Unfortunately, the Hawkeyes are sitting at 8-4 at the conclusion of the season with neither preseason goal in sight.
This doesn’t mean all is lost, however. The Iowa football team has a chance to reach nine wins and at least finish the season strong in hopes of rebounding next year with a magical football season that many wish happened this year.
Kirk Ferentz’s team has rebounded strongly since losing three straight games and seeing all of their hopes vanish. They responded by beating Illinois handedly 63-0 and then squeaking out a victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Moreover, after spending two weeks out of the College Football Playoff rankings, I believe the Iowa football team will be making its way back into the top 25 when the committee releases their fifth edition of the rankings Tuesday night.
As it stands currently, there are four teams with four losses from last week’s rankings, and one team (Pittsburgh) now has five losses. Those teams are Northwestern (who beat Iowa 14-10 two weeks ago), Iowa State (who Iowa beat 13-3 in week two), Mississippi State (who beat unranked Ole Miss), and Texas A&M (who beat LSU in a 7OT thriller).
Notable teams in the bottom of the top 25 that lost this weekend were #21 Utah State and #24 Pittsburgh meaning there are realistically two spots to be filled when the committee releases their rankings Tuesday night.
Of Iowa’s four losses, two are to teams in the top 25 (#19 Northwestern and #12 Penn State) that both won this weekend. The other two losses came to 7-5 Wisconsin and 6-6 Purdue. Wisconsin is coming off an embarrassing loss to Minnesota and Purdue is coming off a close win against Indiana. If history says anything the committee valued the losses to Wisconsin, Northwestern and Purdue as quality losses considering Iowa was still in the top 25 when sitting at 6-3. Now with Northwestern surging at the right time, that should play favorably in the committee’s evaluation of the Iowa football team.
The most recent AP Poll has the Iowa football team receiving four top-25 votes (sixth best for unranked teams) with Fresno State and Army the two teams replacing Utah State and Pittsburgh. Other teams receiving votes ahead of Iowa in the AP Poll are Utah State (10-2 in the Mountain West), Missouri (8-4 in the SEC with a win over #11 Florida), NC State (8-3 with no major wins), Cincinnati (10-2 in the AAC), and Stanford (7-4 with no major wins). Fresno State is 10-2 in the Mountain West with no key wins and a loss to Minnesota while Army is 9-2 with just three wins over teams with winning records.
I firmly believe that the next two teams in should be Missouri and the Iowa football team. The other teams within the hunt according to the AP Poll (which mind you has no impact on the CFP rankings) don’t have key wins or key head to head wins that matter in the committee’s eyes.
It would be a nice consolation prize for a Hawkeye team that has suffered through some heartbreaking losses this season.