Welcome back to the Top 10, Iowa. Despite last being seen getting boatraced by Purdue at home, Iowa proved again that sometimes the strongest move is not to play at all, using the bye week (and a pair of Top 10 upsets to Oklahoma State and *uproarious laughter* Penn State) to sneak back into the Top 10 rankings after that humiliating defeat to the Boilermakers.
First up, the AP Top 25:
|21||San Diego State||7-0||390|
Iowa moved up two spots from #11 to #9 as those aforementioned losses by Oklahoma State (to then-unranked Iowa State) and Penn State (to very unranked Illinois) opened up some space for new faces in the Top 10. That once again keeps the Big Ten with four teams in the Top 10, with Iowa joining Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State in that heady space.
Speaking of Iowa State, they've also returned to the Top 25 after a sabbatical following their early season defeats to Iowa and Baylor. They've won three in a row since that loss to Baylor, though, capped off by handing Oklahoma State their first loss of the season last Saturday. The Cyclones were Iowa's first best win of the season and, on current evidence, they might end up being Iowa's best win of the season, period, when the dust settles at the end of November. The Top 5 win over Penn State was a glorious moment, but the U.S.S. Nittany Lion is taking on water at an alarming rate; that howler against Illinois gave them two losses for the season -- and they still have to play Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State over the final six weeks of the season. It's not far-fetched to think that they could end up with 4-5 regular season losses this year. Iowa State still has some difficult games remaining as well -- a home game with Texas in two weeks, plus a road trip to Oklahoma in four weeks -- but at least they're pointing in the right direction at the moment.
And the Coaches Poll:
|20||San Diego State||7-0||431|
The coaches flipped Iowa and Ole Miss on the ballot compared to the AP pollsters, but a one-spot rise is still enough to get Iowa back into the Top 10 this week. Maintaining that lofty ranking will require Iowa to (duh) return to the winning ways they enjoyed over the first six games of the season -- starting with a nerve-wracking trip to Madison to face Wisconsin on Saturday. In a slightly unusual turn of events, Iowa is ranked and Wisconsin is unranked heading into that game. But the Badgers have owned this series over the last decade and they just pummeled the same Purdue team that gave Iowa fits 10 days ago. After a lousy start to the season, Wisconsin seems to have figured a few things out so yeah, Saturday will be a very very very difficult game. Hopefully Iowa is up to the challenge. If not, this week's return to the Top 10 will prove to be very short-lived.