People who really know the ins and outs of blocking think one of college football’s best offensive lines operates in Iowa City.

Iowa, Alabama and Ohio State were the three finalists named Monday for the Joe Moore Award, given annually to the nation’s “Most Outstanding Offensive Line Unit.”

Iowa would seem to be the outlier among the final three, with Alabama and Ohio State holding down 1-2 in last week's College Football Playoff rankings.

It’s especially surprising considering the 8-4 Hawkeyes rank 119th out of 128 FBS teams in total offense and have allowed 29 sacks despite attempting only 23.8 passes per game.

But the Joe Moore Award website emphasizes that the top lines are chosen for things beyond numbers. It’s about "toughness, effort, teamwork, physicality, tone-setting and finishing."

In describing the Hawkeyes as a finalist, the Moore Award panel emphasizes injury adversity that Iowa has faced and adds: "Despite facing run-stop defenses that average more than seven men in the box, Iowa is averaging 4.48 yards per carry and more than two yards before contact."

Moore is a renowned offensive-line guru and the former mentor of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, whose son, Brian, is the Hawkeyes’ offensive line coach. The award is in its second year.

Iowa was a finalist last year, too. According to the website, the final three will be evaluated "solely by people who played or coached the offensive line position, including all of the current offensive line coaches at the Division I/FBS level, as well as former players, coaches and colleagues of Coach Moore and select media."

The winner will be announced Dec. 9 in Atlanta and be presented the largest trophy in college football — weighing more than 500 pounds and measuring 5 feet wide and 6½ feet tall.

(No word on who pays for shipping to the winning offensive line’s campus.)

1782 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE