The new College Football Playoff Rankings will be released this evening and Iowa won't be ranked. (Sorry, should have given you a SPOILER WARNING there, I suppose.) The AP, Coaches, and Massey Index rankings were released a few days ago -- and Iowa wasn't ranked there, either.
|1||Mississippi State||Mississippi State||Auburn|
|2||Florida State||Florida State||Alabama|
|7||Michigan State||TCU||Kansas State|
|8||Notre Dame||Notre Dame||LSU|
|9||Kansas State||Kansas State||TCU|
|11||Arizona State||Ohio State||Michigan State|
|12||Ole Miss||Arizona State||Baylor|
|13||Ohio State||Ole Miss||Arizona State|
They did manage to crack the "Others receiving votes" category in the Coaches Poll, checking in just behind Minnesota at #32.
Of course, this is not a new state of affairs -- far from it, in fact. As The Gazette's Marc Morehouse noted a week ago, Iowa football hasn't been ranked in a very long time -- since shortly after the last midterm elections.
Iowa went the final seven weeks of 2006 unranked and didn't emerge until it hit No. 20 in the ‘08 final rankings (that one, the ‘08 team being unranked, caught me off guard, too). That's a span of 32 games.
Iowa fell out of the rankings after losing to Ohio State on 11/20/10. It hasn't been ranked since, a span of 47 games, nearly four full years.
That span is up to 48 games after this past weekend and there isn't an immediate end in sight. A win over Minnesota this week probably wouldn't be enough to bump Iowa into the Top 25 -- the Gophers don't have enough juice to give Iowa enough of a boost and the wins that Iowa already has banked are unlikely to look that much better a week from now. Would wins over Minnesota and Illinois be enough to get Iowa back into the polls and end Iowa's poll drought before it hits 50 games? Maybe, if voters decided that the quantity of Iowa's wins (8) at that point was enough to trump the lack of quality among those wins. But it's also entirely possible that it would take another win (over Wisconsin) and a 9-2 record to get the pollsters to admit Iowa back into the Top 25 club.
The polls themselves don't actually matter very much, of course. Neither the AP nor the Coaches Poll helps determine the actual national champion and they continue to exist largely because, well, they've always existed and what would we do without them? But the polls do still matter in terms of being a status symbol and in terms of conveying a degree of relevance on the programs ranked within them. That boosts a team's presence within the national conversation around college football, gooses recruiting... and doesn't hurt the mood around a fanbase, either.
Iowa football hasn't truly mattered since the once-promising 2010 season crumbled to dust in November of that year; if they can get ranked again this November, it would be a sign that Iowa's rebuild is working and a sign that Iowa matters again for the first time in a very long time. They have an opportunity to make themselves matter this year: win games, get ranked, change the narrative around Iowa football.
The last time Iowa entered November with two or fewer losses was 2010, when things quickly went south. Iowa hasn't reached the same heights since then and while anything short of running the table and going 10-2 in the regular season is unlikely to be enough to get Iowa to crack the top 15 (and even that may not do it; such is the nature of the Big Ten's poisonous reputation this season), just getting ranked again would be a good first step for Iowa. That didn't happen this week and even with a win, it probably won't happen next week. But it's within Iowa's grasp for the first time in a very long time -- let's hope they can seize it it.