IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Iowa football team moved a step closer to the College Football Playoff Tuesday night. The Hawkeyes remained No. 5 and in position to rise into the final four if they keep winning.
The first four stayed the same with Clemson leading the way followed by Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame, in that order. Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Florida, Michigan State and Baylor rounded out the Top 10.
Iowa moved to 10-0 with Saturday’s 40-35 home win against Minnesota, the best start in school history. Several national prognosticators expected the Hawkeyes to drop in the rankings after a close victory against the Gophers with one-loss Oklahoma winning at previous No. 6 Baylor and Oklahoma State remaining unbeaten.
Committee Chair Jeff Long was asked if the Hawkeyes stayed ahead of the Big 12 teams based on being a better team or because they’re unbeaten.
“Better,” Long told ESPN. “Again, you look at their resume they have two wins on the road (against Top 25 Wisconsin and Northwestern) that certainly has impacted us. And they’re balanced on offense and defense. Again, as we said last week, they’re not a flashy team but they’re consistent on both sides of the ball.”
For all intents and purposes, Iowa appears to control its own destiny. If it wins its final regular-season contests, this week playing host to Purdue and then at Nebraska on Black Friday, and then beats Ohio State, Michigan State or Michigan in the Big Ten title game to move to 13-0, common belief is it would be in the Top 4.
“If you’re an Iowa fan and you’re worrying or panicking, to me, Iowa you’re fine,” ESPN Analyst Kirk Herbstreit said. “With Ohio State up there, if Iowa wins out and they finish 13-0, they don’t have anything to worry about. There’s nothing to worry about for Iowa.”
A victory against unbeaten and defending champion Ohio State would be Iowa’s best path to the playoff. If Michigan State wins out, it’d likely move back into playoff contention, probably giving Iowa a necessary boost into the Top 4. If it were No. 12 and two-loss Michigan in Indianapolis, that could raise questions about the Hawkeyes depending on what happens elsewhere around the country.
INJURY REPORT: Offensive Lineman Ike Boettger and Akrum Wadley, a running back, should be available against Purdue on Saturday, according to Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, who said both guys were cleared to play last Saturday against Minnesota.
“I think they should be in good shape to play this week if called upon. We have a couple guys nicked up like you always do coming out of a ballgame, but I’m optimistic right now that everybody has a good chance to be ready to go,” Ferentz said.
Boettger, who has missed the last four games with an injured ankle, started the first six games of the season at right tackle. Left tackle Boone Myers also missed time earlier in the year. Cole Croston has filled in for both of them and has started the last six games.
“Ike was really playing well, now Cole has jumped in there and done a great job,” Ferentz said. “Cole has played more snaps than any of our three tackles which caught me by surprise a little bit when I looked at the numbers on Sunday. But it’s a really healthy situation, not a play on words. Ike is still working his way back. I don’t know if he’s 100 percent right now.
“He’s not quite there right now. When he is there, we’ll have a great, great situation. We’ll rotate the guys. I’m fine with that, just like we’ll rotate backs. They’ve proven they can play and play well against anybody, so yeah, really happy about that.”
Wadley missed Saturday’s game after dinging his ankle at Indiana two weeks ago. He replaced Jordan Canzeri at Northwestern on Oct. 17 and rushed 26 times for 204 yards and three touchdowns. He followed up with 19 rushes for 67 and a score against Maryland and 12 for 120 and a touchdown versus the Hoosiers.
Iowa Quarterback C.J. Beathard missed a play on Saturday after getting clocked on a sneak. He said it was a hip pointer. Tuesday, he said he’s been receiving treatment and will be fine for this weekend’s game against Purdue.
QUICK-HITTERS: As of Tuesday afternoon, abut 62,200 tickets had been sold for the Purdue game, meaning about 8,000 remained…Iowa is 6-0 in Kinnick Stadium and enters Saturday’s game looking for a perfect home record for the first time since 2004 (6-0). Iowa has enjoyed 11 perfect seasons in Kinnick Stadium, but only the 2003 team won seven homes games…Iowa can clinch a tie for the West Division championship Saturday with a win over Purdue in Kinnick Stadium, and earn the division title outright with wins in their final two games, or one win and one Wisconsin loss…The Hawkeyes have outscored their 44-0 in the final two minutes of the first half…Iowa TE Henry Krieger Coble has caught eight straight passes for first downs dating back to the Northwestern game on Oct. 17.