Another week, another top-five loss. And while Iowa doesn’t have quite the clout as Alabama, the second-ranked Hawkeyes’ defeat will have a significant impact on the latest college football rankings in the AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll.
Iowa appeared completely outmatched in its 24-7 loss against unranked Purdue. That should cause the Hawkeyes to fall significantly, though perhaps not out of the top 10. The defense had no answer for Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell, who completed 30 of 40 passes for 375 yards and two touchdowns, and top wideout David Bell, who had 11 catches for 240 yards.
Conversely, Hawkeyes quarterback Spencer Petras completed 15 of 32 passes for 195 yards and four interceptions. In all, only one of Iowa’s 11 drives ended in a score.
What does that mean for the rest of the nation’s College Football Playoff hopefuls? Oklahoma, Alabama, Cincinnati and a trio of Big Ten East teams all watched the Hawkeyes’ loss with great interest.
Sporting News takes a look at what Iowa’s upset loss means for the rest of college football’s elite ahead of the Week 8 polls:
Rankings reflect AP Top 25/Coaches Poll
Previous rank: 1/1
Georgia will remain unaffected in the latest polls. The Bulldogs did nothing to suggest they’re not still the No. 1 team in the country, handling No. 11 Kentucky’s best shot en route to a 30-13 victory. Georgia is off next week following its third straight ranked win, meaning it will hold onto the top spot for at least two weeks before heading to Jacksonville to take on Florida, fresh off an upset loss to LSU and Ed Orgeron.
Previous rank: 3/4
The Bearcats continued to make their claim as a deserving Group of 5 entrant into Playoff, throttling Gus Malzahn’s UCF team 56-21 on Saturday. Cincy will have to overcome its G5 moniker on top of proving itself worthy on the field. It has only one more ranked opponent this season in No. 23 SMU, but did take care of business against Power 5 opponents Indiana and Notre Dame, the latter of whom was ranked No. 9 at the time.
Cincinnati may need additional help to make the Playoff with a couple more losses among top-10 teams, but the only thing it can worry about is winning games, and convincingly. For now, Cincy should enjoy a bump in the rankings, possibly as high as No. 2 behind Georgia. The Coaches Poll may only move Cincy up one spot, to No. 3.
Previous rank: 4/3
Oklahoma still has to play TCU on Saturday, but will likely move up at least one spot in both rankings, assuming it can beat the unranked Horned Frogs. (That also depends on how handily the Sooners win against Gary Patterson’s team). Caleb Williams put on quite the performance in relief of Spencer Rattler against Texas in Week 6, and could finally get this team to only its second win of more than one possession all season.
Previous rank: 5/5
Alabama, like Oklahoma, still has to defeat Mississippi State, a team that — unlike the Crimson Tide — beat Texas A&M. Assuming Alabama returns to form against the Bulldogs in Starkville, then it should move up a spot to No. 4 in both the AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll. That won’t guarantee the same ranking in the first set of Playoff rankings, but the mission remains the same for Nick Saban and Co.:
Win out, and you’re in the Playoff. Lose, and you’re out.
Ohio State (5-1)
Previous rank: 6/6
The Buckeyes were off this week, one of three Big Ten teams that took the day off. With that in mind, they will likely move up one spot into the top five — just one spot out of Playoff contention. Luckily for Ohio State, it has several opportunities against Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan and the Big Ten West champion to prove its postseason worthiness.
Penn State (5-1)
Previous rank: 7/8
Penn State will likely move up a spot following Iowa’s loss. It’s true the Nittany Lions lost head-to-head to the Hawkeyes, but Penn State was in front before starting quarterback Sean Clifford went down due to injury. Even with that loss, however, Penn State should move up. Why? Because of how poorly Iowa played against a 3-2 Purdue team. They looked wholly unprepared and significantly less physical than Jeff Brohm’s Boilermakers.
Previous rank: 8/7
The third top-10 Big Ten team to take Week 7 off. Considering how poorly Iowa played, it’s likely the Hawkeyes fall further than Michigan in the latest rankings, meaning the Wolverines shouldn’t suffer a stepback during the bye. They’re in the same boat as Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State in terms of prove-it games.
Previous rank: 3/3
Iowa’s offense struggled once more, but this time its defense couldn’t make up for the poor play. Petras’ four interceptions were killer, but the team also rushed for 76 yards off 30 carries (a 2.5 per-carry average). And the defense allowed Aidan O’Connell to complete 30 of 40 passes for 375 yards and two touchdowns (he also rushed for one as well).
Where does that leave Iowa? Likely as the No. 8 or 9 team in the polls, depending on what the AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll thinks of Michigan State following its 20-15 victory at Indiana. Luckily for the Hawkeyes, they still fully control their destiny. They need only win out against a largely weak Big Ten West and beat one of Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State or Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game.