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IOWA STILL RANKED FOURTH IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF RANKINGS BEFORE FINAL GAME OF SEASON

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The stage is set for the Big Ten Championship Game against No. 5 Michigan State.

ESPN

In the last set of rankings before the conference championship games, Iowa maintained its spot at No. 4 in the College Football Playoff poll, removing all doubt that the Big Ten will be included in the playoffs when the time comes.

This has been a rare week of stability for the CFP, at least at the top; the first four teams remain unchanged from last week, and now Oklahoma's in the clubhouse at 11-1 and the undisputed champion of the Big 12. The Sooners might be too well-set at No. 3 for Iowa to catch, but one might argue that Clemson's a little less terrifying than Alabama as a potential semifinal foe for the Hawkeyes. Maybe.

Iowa was buoyed by Northwestern scooting up to No. 14, but no Wisconsin in the Top 25 (despite what the AP and Coaches polls decided this week) hurts. Iowa's strength of schedule drops off substantially after that, obviously, but a win over No. 5 Michigan State would make the Hawkeyes a stone-cold lock at 13-0. The next-highest team with a chance to move up is Stanford at No. 7, and the two-loss Cardinal will face three-loss USC this weekend. If Iowa wins, Stanford's not a threat to overtake the Hawkeyes. Neither is anybody else.

Folks, here we go. This is the opportunity players dream of their entire career. One more win, and the Hawkeyes are in. Let's go get it.