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Iowa Football: Hawks Up to #16 In Rankings

The Playoff Committee bumps Iowa up one spot on the eve of the Big Ten Championship

NCAA Football: Iowa at Nebraska Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The Iowa Hawkeyes ended their 2023 season with a tense, frustrating, joyous victory over Nebraska on Black Friday. Those words encapsulate this entire season for Iowa as wins all too often felt more difficult than they needed to be. Still, a win is a win, as they say, and wins are what matter most in the end. What this win didn’t do, however, was impress anyone on the College Football Playoff committee who released their penultimate rankings last night.

The Hawkeyes return to the #16 spot they vacated just one week ago. It’s Iowa’s fourth consecutive week in the playoff rankings. There isn’t much else to say at this point about how the committee, and the wider college football world, views the Hawkeyes. Their style of play isn’t for everyone and wins alone aren’t enough to change many hearts and minds. Without a desire or ability to generate more style points, it’ll take a significantly high profile win for Iowa to move farther up. The type of win that pundits and and pollsters alike take notice. A win against, say, the #2 team in the country in the conference championship perhaps?

With this being the committee’s second to last rankings, and their final poll before conference crowns are awarded this weekend, let’s see how the playoff race stands.

Iowa’s victim opponent this Saturday, Michigan, rises to #2 and knocks Ohio State down to #6. Once again, the Buckeyes must hope for chaos ahead of them to make it into the final playoff bracket. Their fall opened the door for Florida State to jump back in at #4 and the Washington Huskies rise to #3 after surviving against rival Washington State. Oregon is the first team out at #5, which potentially sets up Friday’s Pac-12 championship game as a de facto playoff quarterfinal.

As it stands, and as always seems the case, the top eight spots present a dizzying number of scenarios ahead of championship week. Should Alabama beat Georgia, would that be enough to either knock the Bulldogs out of the final four or get the Crimson Tide in? Would it be enough to do both? If that happens what does the committee do with Texas? Their week 2 victory over Alabama remains the Longhorns’ signature win and has helped them stay firmly entrenched in the middle of the top ten most of the season. Texas faces #18 Oklahoma State on the Big 12 title game but the Cowboys have some dreadful losses to their name including 33-7 to South Alabama and 45-3 to UCF. Would Oklahoma State not provide Texas with a quality enough win to offset a Tide victory over the Dawgs?

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The ACC is in a tough spot as a Jordan Travis-less Florida State remains their only hope for a playoff presence. Louisville’s loss to Kentucky last Saturday makes a possible championship game upset of the Seminoles a death sentence to the conference’s playoff hopes.

Then there’s the doomsday scenario where all the higher ranked teams lose this weekend. Is it possible to see a final four featuring Oregon, Texas, Alabama, and (gasp!) Ohio State? I have no idea what the chances of that happening are but in this final year of the four team model I’d give anything to see it happen.

Who do you think makes it into the final four?