When Iowa moved up to #3 in the AP and Coaches Polls last week, it seemed like that would be their ceiling this season, with Alabama and Georgia perched at #1 and #2 ahead of them -- unless something unexpected happen. Well... something unexpected happened yesterday on one of the wildest and most thrilling days the sport has seen in a while -- the sport's 800-lb goliath of the 21st century, Alabama, got beat. Bama was felled on the road by an unranked Texas A&M team led by a back-up QB, ending several streaks in the process, most notably Bama's inconceivable streak of 100 consecutive wins over unranked opponents.
But Bama's shocking loss -- coupled with Iowa's thrilling win over #4 Penn State in an epic Top 5 showdown -- means that the ceiling in the rankings isn't #3 after all. And it means Iowa football can tread on ground it hasn't been on in many decades. Say hello to your #2 Iowa Hawkeyes.
First, the AP Poll:
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With Alabama's defeat, Georgia is your unanimous #1 team; they had been slowly siphoning a few first-place votes away each week, but they took them all after Bama's shocking loss and their own comfortable Top 25 win over Auburn. Behind them, though: the 6-0 Iowa Hawkeyes, followed by Cincinnati, Oklahoma, and Alabama to round out the Top 5. The rest of the Top 10 is truly a Big Ten affair, and specifically a Big Ten East affair; Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, and Michigan State are all ensconced in the back half of the Top 10 right now. Including Iowa, the Big Ten has five teams in the Top 10, which is unprecedented.
The Big Ten seems well-positioned to have 5 of the Top 10 teams in this weeks AP Poll. It would be the first time that has EVER happened.— Dave Revsine (@BTNDaveRevsine) October 10, 2021
That dominance isn't going to last because those Big Ten East teams are going to have to finally start playing one another (and taking Ls when they do) over the next few weeks and that will send some of them tumbling down the Top 25 rankings a bit. But for the moment the top of the Big Ten is lording over college football, which is quite a sight to behold.
And the Coaches Poll:
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Georgia isn't a unanimous #1 in this poll -- because one wise and beautiful voter has put Iowa as the #1 team. God bless you, anonymous Coaches Poll voter. You've earned yourself a full night of free drinks in Iowa City for that.
The order of the Top 5 is slightly different in the Coaches Poll -- Oklahoma slides ahead of Cincinnati -- but the same five teams are present. Likewise, it also has the same five teams in the back half of the Top 10, albeit with a slightly different order (Michigan ahead of Penn State). The Big Ten dominance is on display just as much here as it is in the AP Poll.
But let's get back to Iowa, because we're in some rarefied air for Hawkeye football right now. There are not many "firsts" left for Kirk Ferentz to accomplish after 22+ years at Iowa, but he managed to hit one this week: first time ever at the #2 spot in the polls. His previous high water mark in the polls was #3, accomplished last week, as well as previously in 2002 and 2015. The last time an Iowa team hit #2 in the rankings? 1985.
With Alabama losing to unranked Texas A&M tonight, it's likely that Iowa will move up to #2 in the AP Top 25 poll tomorrow. The last time they were ranked this high was the 1985 season. Before then was the 1961 season. Iowa has spent 20 weeks, ever, ranked #1 or #2.— Jon D. Miller (@hawkeyepodcast) October 10, 2021
As Jon Miller explained in an article looking at Iowa's ranking, Iowa's current stay in the Top 5 of the rankings is already touching some other historic streaks:
Iowa’s thrilling victory over #4 Penn State combined with #1 Alabama’s loss at unranked Texas A&M on Saturday led to Iowa climbing to #2 in the AP Poll for the first time since the 1985 season. Iowa spent a few weeks at #2 that year, they spent a few weeks at #1 and most all of the year inside the Top Five; that 1985 team had Top Five streaks of five weeks (or polls) and 10 weeks inside the Top Five.
The 2021 Iowa Hawkeyes join that 1985 team, the 1961 team and the 1960 team with a minimum of five straight weeks in the Top Five.
How long can this streak run? Well, there's still a lot of season left to play. Iowa just needs to keep winning. Up next? A 3-2 Purdue team that's given Iowa plenty of grief ever since Jeff Brohm took over as coach. But that's Saturday's challenge; for now we can revel in the impressive accomplishments of this Iowa team, touching heights not seen in over 30 years.
Go #2 Ranking Awesome