IOWA CITY, Iowa – Last week, Iowa fans screamed for respect. Tuesday, they got it.
The Hawkeyes (9-0 overall, 5-0 Big Ten) jumped up four spots to No. 5 in the College Football Playoff Rankings. Clemson and Ohio State were the only unbeaten Power 5 teams ahead of them.
Selection Committee Chair Jeff Long, who last week said Iowa was behind Baylor and TCU because their offenses were more explosive. That trumped the Hawkeyes having more quality wins, he said.
For whatever reason, the qualifications changed in the last seven days. Baylor stayed at six despite winning 31-24 at Kansas State. The Hawkeyes jumped up four places with a 35-27 win at Indiana. Both of their opponents were winless in conference play.
“Five through eight was where we spent the majority of our time debating and discussing and voting,” Long told ESPN Tuesday night. “Iowa for us, for the committee, they’ve shown consistent improvement. They’ve shown consistency on both sides of the ball. While they’ve not been flashy, they have been solid on both sides of the ball.
“They’ve got a couple of road victories in the Big Ten that are impressive and they have the overall strength of schedule of the undefeated teams other than Clemson, the No. 1 team. That’s what helped propel Iowa above the others in the 5-8 range.”
Iowa has won at No. 18 Northwestern and No. 25 Wisconsin this season. The Wildcats knocked off No. 7 Stanford at home, 16-6, but fell, 40-10, to the Hawkeyes at Ryan Field.
The Hawkeyes, who matched the best start in school history with the Indiana victory, play host to Minnesota Saturday (7 p.m. CT, BTN). They finish up the regular season with a home game against Purdue and then at Nebraska on Black Friday. Should they remain unbeaten, a Big Ten Title game against Ohio State, Michigan State or Michigan looms on Dec. 5.
“Their fan base maybe got ahold of the committee because they have been very, very frustrated with a lot of people not giving this team the recognition they deserve,” ESPN Analyst Kirk Herbstreit said on the network broadcast Tuesday night.
“In Iowa, this is huge news because if you sit and look right now with the schedule that they have they have a big opportunity in front of them to take care of business in the regular season and then you’re thinking how can they move into that Top 4. They play Ohio State. And if Ohio State beats Michigan State and Michigan, there’s Ohio State sitting up in the Top 4 will give the Hawkeyes…whether you agree or disagree, based on where the committee has evaluated them right now, if Iowa wins out, they don’t need to worry about you or me or anybody else. It’s in front of them. If Iowa wins out, they will be one of the four teams (in the playoff). It’s as simple as that.”
If Iowa makes that jump into the Top 4, it might come from a spot lower than where it sits now. Baylor, Stanford and No. 8 Oklahoma State all play more highly-ranked opponents moving forward than do the Hawkeyes.
“It wouldn’t take much to change that order (among the current teams at 5-8 in the CFPR). It is very close,” Long said. “We had revotes in that area. So, I would say that that area really is after considerable debate and review and discussion probably the area that’s most volatile. So, upcoming opportunities for those teams really will make a great difference.”
One-loss Alabama checked in a spot behind No. 1 Clemson after beating previous No. 2 LSU, 30-16. Ohio State remained at No. 3, one place ahead of Notre Dame, whose only blemish came by two points at Clemson.
Here’s a look at the complete College Football Playoff Rankings Top 25.