Surprise! Someone's got Iowa's banged-up offensive line No. 1

Chad Leistikow

Iowa’s offensive line is banged up but, for now, it’s … the best in college football?

Yes, that’s the assessment, based on run- and pass-block grading from the astute folks with Pro Football Focus.

The trusted analytics website came out with its midseason offensive-line rankings Wednesday, crediting a large enough sample size to make conclusions.

Iowa was ranked No. 1, followed by Washington State, Kansas State, Western Michigan and San Diego State.

The top perch may seem a surprise, considering Iowa’s rushing offense of 180.0 yards a game is ranked 59th nationally and the 18 sacks allowed of quarterback C.J. Beathard is tied for 92nd.

Iowa running back LeShun Daniels, Jr., crosses the goal line against Northwestern, as linemen Sean Welsh (79), James Daniels (78) and Cole Croston (64) look on. Iowa has rushed for 17 touchdowns this season.

But here’s what the PFF analysis says about Iowa:

“The Hawkeyes line is the nation’s best-performing overall offensive line when you balance pass- and run-blocking measured against the quality of competition Iowa has played. The Hawkeyes utilize NFL zone-blocking techniques and schemes with more detail than probably any other offensive line in college football.”

PFF ranks junior Sean Welsh as the No. 17-rated guard in the country and puts Ike Boettger as the No. 23-rated tackle.

Running back Akrum Wadley is averaging 7.4 yards a carry with eight rushing touchdowns, while LeShun Daniels Jr. is at 5.4 per pop with six scores.

Iowa turns loose talented tandem of running backs

“Our goal now is to take another step this week,” Boettger said with Saturday’s 11 a.m., ESPN-televised showdown against No. 10 Wisconsin on deck.

The Hawkeyes might be forced into their seventh starting offensive-line combination in eight games. Starting tackles Cole Croston and Boone Myers (lower-leg sprains) are uncertain to play against the Badgers.