Iowa's season is creeping up, and ESPN released its power poll rankings. Iowa comes in at no. 9 on the list, which is high praise, and ESPN uses that E word that most of you are afraid of*:
After a BCS bowl win and an 11-2 record in 2009, it's possible that expectations are even higher for the Hawkeyes in 2010. The pieces are in place for Iowa to challenge for the Big Ten title, and it will face the league's best teams at home.
Iowa's highest rankings among ESPN's 20 pollsters are second, courtesy of Ivan Maisel, fourth, from Andrea Adelson, and sixth from David Duffey and Ted Miller. Interesting note: Ohio State is given the top spot by two pollsters: David Duffey and Ted Miller. Make of that confluence of opinions what you will.
Of course, there's always the potential for disaster; that goes for every ranked team every year, but Iowa seems more susceptible to the letdown than most, both historically and today. Here's what Team Speed Kills had to say about the Hawkeyes, naming them the most likely of the top 10 teams to finish the season unranked (via PSD):
The Hawkeyes had a great record last year, but they weren't dominant. They beat Northern Iowa and Arkansas State by a combined four points. They nearly lost to Michigan and Michigan State. In 2010, they get every tough team in the Big Ten while missing Illinois and Purdue. Iowa State usually plays them tough regardless, and they go to Arizona. It's not going to be an explosive team, and the schedule is tough.
Boo hiss, sirs.
We will also add that though the Hawkeyes may underperform compared to '09, we don't see the possibility of finishing unranked; there are too many opportunities for high-profile wins, especially against ranked opponents at Kinnick. Of course, Iowa has to actually beat them first, but still. Even at 8-4 going into a bowl, Iowa should still be ranked.
Oh, and team speed does not kill. Adrian Clayborn kills.
There is a third option here, and that is to charge screaming into the oncoming fire with dicks stiffer than Roger Sterling's lunch. That's what SMA has advocated, and that would also be Rex Ryan's approach, as articulated to his team on the premiere of Hard Knocks last night. The last 30 seconds may as well be addressed to Iowa as well, particularly when he talks about expectations. Oh, and the language is cartoonishly NSFW. Do not watch this at work. Do not do it. You will get fired, either for playing multiple audible F-bombs, or for getting so fired up you spear a filing cabinet, toppling it onto that miserable accounts manager, Phil. We'll even put a transcript of those last 30 seconds after the video. Are you not at work? Okay, click play.
We've got to have a great goddamn training camp, men. Last year, 'hey, we were under the radar, that's a good place to be'--fuck that! The best place to be is when expectations are high. Get used to it! It's always going to be that way. And now let's go out and prove everybody right. 'We know we're better than you, we don't give a fuck if you know it or not, we don't give a shit if you give us your best game, we're gonna give you our best game, and we're gonna beat the fuck outta ya. How's that?' Let's go get it.
AAAAASDGLIHBFISBF YES LET'S DO THIS RIGHT NOW /headbutts a plate glass window, devours entire stick of deodorant
*No, "eatpoop" is not a word and is thusly disqualified from consideration. You know that.