I’ve got good news and bad news, Hawkeye fans. The good news is Iowa is still in the top twenty in the latest CFP rankings released last night.
The bad news is they’re not as high as last week.
Despite defeating Illinois and becoming Big Ten West champions, the playoff committee dropped the Iowa Hawkeyes one spot to #17. In a way it’s understandable. Iowa’s 15-13 victory was by no stretch convincing, as the Hawkeyes followed the familiar script of squeezing just enough drops out of the offense and riding a great defensive performance. The Big Ten West’s reputation as bargain bin of a division doesn’t help either. You can only play the teams that are on your schedule, as they say, but it seems like Iowa only gets half credit for the wins but suffers full blame for the losses.
I’ve chuckled at the jokes about the West division a fair amount myself, but I’ll be glad when it stops being considered an asterisk on each team’s record.
The full poll has a bit more context around Iowa’s fall.
Arizona’s jump to #15 after their 42-18 beat down of Utah is what pushed the Hawks down the rankings. I was surprised last week when the Wildcats were ranked lower than Iowa, they’ve had more quality wins, with four coming against then-ranked teams, and have looked more convincing in their wins than Iowa. I could quibble with 3-loss Oregon State still being ahead of Iowa at #16 but whatever.
The rest of the world will be talking about Washington finally cracking the exclusive club at #4, ousting Florida State who falls to #5. The Huskies have passed every test so far this year, and have topped four ranked teams in the last six weeks. Florida State, while one of the best teams in college football, just does not have the resume to justify them being ahead anymore. It’s hard to image the loss of Seminole quarterback Jordan Travis didn’t factor into the committee’s decision as well. The injury removes one of Florida State’s key pieces and it undoubtedly hurts their case to remain as one of the four best teams with Washington and Oregon also fighting for positioning.
Georgia remains at #1 with Ohio State and Michigan at #2 and #3. It will be very interesting to see what the committee does at this point next week. Someone has to lose that game but will it be enough to kick them out of the top four? Unless it’s an absolute humiliation by one side I doubt the loser drops out immediately, but without a championship game to bounce back with things could get dicey with Florida State waiting in the wings.
Alabama’s best shot to get in is an upset of Georgia in the SEC championship and chaos in every other conference championship. Even Texas needs some things to go their way as a win over either Oklahoma, Kansas State, or Oklahoma State in the Big 12 championship likely doesn’t move the needle much for the playoff committee.
With one week of the regular season to go the playoff picture will firm up even more. Those left out of conference championships will either need to hope for pandemonium at the top or content themselves with a New Years Six bowl. It’s shaping up to be a fun end to the 2023 season.