Another college football season is officially in the books and for the first time in over 40 years, Georgia is a national champion again. It’s nice that those plucky underachievers in the SEC finally have something to feel good about, isn’t it? The end of the season also brings with it the final Top 25 rankings of the season, so let’s dive in.
First, the AP Poll:
|25||San Diego State||12-2||132|
And the Coaches Poll
So what do we make of this ranking? Well, it’s the fourth straight year they’ve ended the season ranked in the Top 25; the only time they’ve had a longer run than that is back in the ’80s, when Iowa finished in the Top 20 five straight seasons from 1983 through 1987. If Iowa had managed to hold on and beat Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl, it seems very likely they would have finished in the Top 15, which would have been their second Top 15 finish in the last three years (and their third straight Top 16 finish), as well as their eighth Top 15 finish of the Ferentz Era at Iowa.
This is also the second year in the Ferentz Era, as well as the seventh time in program history, that Iowa has been ranked in the AP Top 25 every single week of the season. The last time they did that was just two years ago, in 2019; prior to that it hadn’t happened since 1991. Iowa has established a level of consistent quality that now gets them ranked in the preseason Top 25 on a regular basis — and they’ve been able to win at a consistent enough clip to maintain those rankings. That’s a nice thing.
On the other hand, #23 is also Iowa’s lowest ranking of the entire season and a slightly bitter way to end the season after being ranked in the Top 15 nearly the entire campaign. Iowa peaked at #2 in the rankings and while that ranking was certainly a bit of fool’s gold, owing as much (if not more) to the goofiness of preseason rankings than to Iowa’s own actual quality, it’s still a bit of a comedown to reach those heights and finish near the bottom of the Top 25.
The main reason for that, of course, is Iowa’s perpetually inept offense. On one hand, it’s fairly remarkable that Iowa was able to squeeze 10 wins and a Top 25 ranking out of an offense that was, by either statistics or the eye test, one of the absolute worst in college football in 2021. On the other hand, it’s not as if that offense was foisted on them by some malevolent trickster god; the offense and all its flaws and foibles was entirely of their own making.
So you choose your own adventure when it comes to interpreting Iowa’s 2021 season and final ranking. There are reasons to be happy about what this group of Hawkeyes accomplished, as well as reasons to lament what kept from potentially accomplishing even more. Regardless of where you fall on that debate, we’ll all certainly miss college football as it goes back into its long hibernation. See you in September, college football.