With only 2 weeks left in the College Football Season, the playoff race is becoming heated. People all around the country are wondering, "Will my team reach one of the top 4 elusive spots?" One of the most highly debated teams sits in the midwest - The Iowa Hawkeyes.
Led by Junior QB CJ Beathard and coach Kirk Ferentz, the Hawkeyes are currently undefeated at 11-0. With only Nebraska in their way, Iowa is searching for the Big 10 Title. With a perfect record, one might think Iowa belongs in the top 4 of the College Football Rankings.
But there's a problem - Well, actually a couple.
Let's start with the most discussed problem of the Hawkeyes; The Schedule. Iowa has played two teams ranked in the top 25 and won both games. The first of the ranked teams was Wisconsin in week 5, and the second was Northwestern in week 7.
I'll give credit where credit is due - Wisconsin has a great football program. Wisconsin has had a history of producing great NFL level talent (Russell Wilson, JJ Watt, Owen Daniels), and last year reached the Big 10 Title Game (Before getting smacked by Ohio State). But let's take a minute and reflect on the 2015 Wisconsin Badgers.
The Badgers are currently ranked #21 in the nation, stand at 8-3. Besides the Iowa loss, Wisconsin has lost to Northwestern in a hideous game, and then were smacked by Alabama in week 1. Against Bama, (Ranked #1 in recruiting in 2013 and 2014), Wisconsin was held to 268 yards, while Bama rolled with 502 total yards. Then, in the previous week, Wisconsin lost to Northwestern 13-7, as Wisconsin had 5 total turnovers. Northwestern (Ranked 68th in recruiting in 2014, with 0 five star recruits), who is well coached but without high level talent, controlled the game as they held the lead through the entire second half. As Wisconsin faced the highest level of talent (And got smacked), and then faced lower level talent (And lost), can we really consider the 2015 Badgers to be a legitmate opponent?
Heading back to Iowa's second win against a ranked opponent, they defeated Northwestern in week 7. Northwestern can be epitomized as a well-coached team, that has bottom level talent. Looking at their past three years in recruiting, Northwestern has yet to finish top 40 in recruiting rankings, while they were not able to gather one five star recruit. Unlike Wisconsin, who has JJ Watt and Russell Wilson in the NFL, Northwestern has Corey Wooton and Jimmy Hall - Wooton being the only 2010 drafee to play in a game (Recording 4 tackles so far this year!). Clearly, Northwestern has a great coaching staff, but no high level talent.
Besides their Big 10 schedule, Iowa managed to schedule the out-of-conference opponents of Iowa State, Pittsburgh, and North Texas. I'm still suprised they didnt schedule the Univeristy of Phoenix. Iowa State (3-8) has already quit on their season. If you look up "Iowa State Schedule" on Google, you'll find their 2-0 basketball schedule. Pittsburgh isn't terrible, but also weren't able to pick up a single five star recruit. Finally, North Texas is in area of Texas more known for High School football.
Iowa has yet to schedule a high level talent school on their schedule (Wisconsin at the highest - 33rd in recruiting rankings), and therefore, I give no credit to them. When they're not playing Michigan, Michigan State (22nd in recruiting), or OSU (3rd in recruting - with an actual 5 star recruit - yes Iowa, they exist), how could they not go out and schedule better out-of-conference match ups? I'm not comparing other school's out-of-conference schedule to Iowa's, but at the same time, let's all realize Iowa's schedule is "as soft as Panera Bread"- (Colin Cowherd).
My second problem with Iowa is their own talent level - AKA their recruiting standards and NFL talent. Since 2013, their recruiting rankings are: 53rd, 59th, and 58th. One might ask why recruiting rankings matter? Well, out of the past 10 National Champions, all of the teams were ranked top 10 in recruiting in the years leading up. In fact, besides Florida State in 2013, 9/10 of the teams were top 5 in recruiting rankings before winning the "Ship." With Iowa in the mid-50's in recruiting, they are just a slight bit off from top 10.
My final dispute with Iowa supporters goes back to being undefeated and 11-0. I've heard, "Iowa is 11-0 in a power 5 conference! Of course they should be top 4!"
Hm. How can you give Iowa credit for being undefeated in a power 5 conference, when they don't even play the three best teams (OSU, MSU, Michigan) in the Big 10 conference!? Then, Iowa goes out and schedules Iowa State, Pittsburgh, and Devry - I mean North Texas. If you're going to take the credit for being undefeated in a power five conference, how about scheduling the best teams in that conference?
At the end of the day, Iowa has an overrated Big 10 schedule, terrible out-of-conference schedule, no real talent in recruiting, and lack the play of the best teams in the Big 10! No matter what argument is thrown out in favor of Iowa, I just cannot see legitmate reasoning to see Iowa as one of the top 4 teams in College Football.