The Iowa Hawkeyes had their season cut short in 2020 in a multitude of ways. First, it was the Big Ten’s decision to push back and then shorten the season, which left Iowa with just 8 scheduled regular season games, plus a Championship Weekend matchup and a potential bowl game.
While Iowa was one of few teams to make it through that shortened regular season without a cancellation, they were bitten twice by the COVID bug once the regular season concluded. The first came when Michigan was unable to participate in the Championship Weekend matchup. Then Missouri suffered the same fate in Iowa’s Music City Bowl matchup (which in and of itself was sort of laughable when you consider a 4-2 Oregon team was playing in a New Year’s Six bowl).
As such, the Hawkeyes finished the year two weeks early after starting several weeks late. They end the season with a 6-2 record while riding a 6-game winning streak after those two head-scratchers to start the year.
Now, they end the year ranked 16th in the AP’s final poll of the 2020 season. That’s up one spot from the prior rankings. Here’s a look at the full AP poll:
- Ohio State
- Texas A&M
- Notre Dame
- Iowa State
- Coastal Carolina
- North Carolina
- Oklahoma State
- Southern California
- Ball State
- San Jose State
The final rankings are a reflection of the complete absurdity that was the 2020 season. As noted, Oregon took on #9 Iowa State in the Fiesta Bowl on January 2nd. The Cyclones, for beating the Ducks, jumped three spots in the final rankings. Oregon, meanwhile, fell out of the top-25 altogether after finishing the year just 4-3. One of Iowa Stat’s three losses came to Louisiana in week one. The Ragin’ Cajuns finish the year ranked 15th in the nation - one spot higher than Iowa. Their ranking is based on beating Iowa State and a bunch of teams the Big Ten would have typically used to get bowl eligible, while losing to the only other team on their schedule with a pulse (Coastal Carolina), which is also ranked ahead of Iowa despite finishing their season with a loss to Liberty.
On the whole, the Big Ten, with their limited schedules and struggles from traditional powers such as Michigan and Penn State, finished the year with just four teams ranked. That of course includes Iowa at #16, as well as Indiana at #12 and a pair of top-10 teams in #10 Northwestern and #2 Ohio State.
With the wild and wacky 2020 season officially behind us, media outlets are already starting to pivot to 2021. ESPN released their first look at 2021 rankings on Tuesday morning.
We're THAT excited— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) January 12, 2021
Our Way-Too-Early top 25 for next year pic.twitter.com/CCNZutFA4r
Hawkeye fans will be pleased to see Iowa start the year inside the top-15 at #12 overall. Less exciting, however, is the prospect of starting the 2021 season with a pair of games against top-10 opponents.
Iowa is currently set to open the 2021 season against Indiana, which comes in at #10 in ESPN’s way too early rankings. Week 2 features a trip to #8 Iowa State. The rest of the schedule features two more games against ranked opponents as Iowa is set to take on #22 Penn State (we’ll leave the discussion of how you get to #22 after finishing below .500 for the comments) in week 6 before closing out the season at #17 Wisconsin.
Here’s a quick reminder of the 2021 schedule as it currently stands:
September 4: Indiana
September 11: at Iowa State
September 18: Kent State
September 25: Colorado State
October 2: at Northwestern
October 9: Penn State
October 16: BYE
October 23: at Maryland
October 30: Purdue
November 6: at Nebraska
November 13: Minnestoa
November 20: Illinois
November 27: at Wisconsin