Remember hearing that? Yeah.. it's only been 2 seasons since last time that was heard. Unfortunately, this season came with a LOT more disappointment than the 2008 season did.
Assuming Iowa doesn't have an epic breakdown against Minnesota and gets placed in a mediocre bowl game against an overmatched team, Iowa will finish 9-4 following a season of 'what ifs'. Difference? Iowa is coming off an 11-2 season with an Orange Bowl win and Big Ten/National Title hopes in mind. In 2008, Iowa was just aiming to get to a bowl game after coming off one of the most disastrous seasons in recent memory with an untested running back who had worked at a furniture store on Saturdays the season before.
In 2008, Iowa lost 4 games (all 4 unranked) by a combined 12 points, including a 1-point loss to Pitt and a 5-point loss to jNW. In 2010, Iowa has lost 4 games (3 ranked, 1 unranked) by a combined 15 points, including a 1-point loss to Wisconsin and a 4-point loss to jNW.
Wow.. that sucks. For more on how much it hurts to be an Iowa fan, check out my article on Iowa not losing a game by more than a touchdown since 2007. It's pretty interesting.
But back to being the best 4-loss team. Iowa is the highest ranked 4-loss team in any poll (all polls have Iowa ahead of 4-loss Mississippi State; no other 4-loss teams are currently ranked). Mississippi State has lost all it's games to a ranked team, but aren't quite as impressive when it comes to battling for the win every game. They lost by 20 points to Alabama and 22 points to LSU. Of course, they are great, great teams, but Iowa has played (and lost to) the same caliber teams in Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Arizona and keeping the games close.
In fact, when you compare the two teams' losses, Iowa looks like it could be undefeated.
-Mississippi State (7-4): Lost 4 games by combined 52 points (13 point average)
-Iowa (7-4): Lost 4 games by combined 15 points (3.75 point average)
That's the difference between being flat-out overmatched or being a touchdown or field goal away from winning.
The interesting part about this is that Iowa and Mississippi State are both on their way to becoming Gator Bowl-bound. It's a Big Ten-SEC bowl and both Iowa and Mississippi State are competitive 4-loss teams with something to prove.