Iowa, which was ranked fifth in last week’s College Football Playoff rankings, is a funny team.
Why? Because a lot of people couldn’t believe the Hawkeyes weren’t ranked in the top four, and seemingly just as many couldn’t believe they were ranked as high as they were.
We’ll see where the Hawkeyes are in tonight’s poll, but one thing is for certain: They just keep winning. Iowa held off Minnesota, 40-35, on Saturday to improve to 10-0. Only two games separate the Hawkeyes from an undefeated regular season: a home game against Purdue (2-8) this Saturday and a road game against Nebraska (5-6) on Nov. 28.
So even if the Hawkeyes aren’t in the top four tonight, they might be by season’s end, assuming that they win the Big Ten Championship.
“If they were to win the Big Ten and be undefeated, they’re in the playoff – 100 percent,” CBS Sports college football analyst Randy Cross said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Might be No. 4, but they’ll be in. The problem for them is going to be they’re going to run into some pretty talented, physical teams. Let’s just say it stays the same way it is right now and they get Clemson. They’re 4, Clemson’s 1. How many teams with that kind of talent on both lines – not to mention how they spread you out and then stress you – has Iowa seen? That’s not Big Ten football. They maybe would have just beaten one in Ohio State, but . . .”
But would Iowa really be that outmatched against Clemson? After all, the Tigers beat Louisville by three, beat Notre Dame by two, allowed 41 points to NC State, and needed a late field goal to pull away from Syracuse, 37-27, this past weekend.
Syracuse, by the way, is 3-7.
So it’s not like Clemson is beyond approach. In fact, are the Tigers really that good? Are they really the No. 1 team in the country?
“There’s only one team right now that looks like a No. 1 team,” Cross said. “That’s Alabama. Saw the loss against Ole Miss and all those crazy plays, but the Saban teams, generally speaking, are teams that when you look at them, you go, ‘Man, they’re not that good.’ But you probably should beat them early because if you wait until later, they might be a lot better. Well, you know what? They’re a lot better right now.”
Sticking in the SEC, Cross is stunned by just how bad Auburn and LSU have looked as of late. Auburn (5-5) has lost three of four, while LSU has been dominated by Alabama and Arkansas each of the last two weeks, losing 30-16 to the Tide and 31-14 to the Razorbacks. After averaging 193.1 rushing yards through seven games, Leonard Fournette has just 122 rushing yards combined in his last two games, during which he averaged just 3.2 yards per carry.
“I did not expect Auburn to just totally go in the toilet,” Cross said. “And LSU’s so-called physical dominance that I thought I saw? That’s my lying eyes, I guess.”