Fresh off their biggest bowl win in fifty years, a 24-14 demolition of the ACC champion Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (11-3) in the Orange Bowl, the Iowa Hawkeyes (11-2) finished the season ranked #7 in both the AP and USA Today/Coaches polls. It's the highest end-of-season ranking for Iowa in the Kirk Ferentz era, and their highest finish overall since finishing 3/2 in the major polls in 1960. It's yet another major accomplishment for Ferentz at Iowa and a nice way (along with the Orange Bowl trophy itself, of course) to remember a brilliant roller coaster ride of a season that saw the Iowa program reach dizzying heights. Even if they may have fallen just short of their primary goals -- winning a Big Ten Championship and playing in the Rose Bowl -- an Orange Bowl victory and a top 7 ranking is one hell of a consolation prize. Congratulations, guys, and thanks for one hell of a season.
The final polls featured a strong Big Ten flavor at the top, as Ohio State (5/5) and Penn State (9/8) joined Iowa in the top ten. Wisconsin finished the season ranked 16th in both polls, while just Northwestern got a "Great Effort!" sticker and six votes from the coaches. With OSU, Iowa, and Wisconsin all returning almost all of their key skill position players on offense and plenty of starters on defense, pre-season expectations should be very high for the Big Ten to build off its impressive bowl performances next season. The Pac 10 was the only BCS conference to finish the season with no teams ranked in the top ten; Oregon dropped to 11th in both polls after getting humbled by the Buckeyes.