Iowa football: After Outback Bowl win, Hawkeyes earn final top-25 ranking

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

For the seventh time under Kirk Ferentz, Iowa has finished the football season a ranked team.

The Hawkeyes cut it close, but they finished 25th in the final Associated Press poll that was released early Tuesday morning. They somewhat surprisingly finished one spot outside the final Amway Coaches Poll. Their 27-22 Outback Bowl win against Mississippi State helped them finish 9-4, just the second season in the last eight at Iowa with at least nine wins.

Iowa players celebrate their 27-22 win against Mississippi State in the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl.

Iowa's previous teams in Ferentz's 20 years as head coach that have ended in the AP Top 25: 2002 (eighth), 2003 (eighth), 2004 (eighth), 2008 (20th), 2009 (seventh), 2015 (ninth) and now this one.

Iowa appeared on 37 of the 61 final AP ballots. John Clay of the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader put the Hawkeyes the highest, at 18th.

In the USA TODAY-compiled coaches' poll, the Hawkeyes actually wound up five voting points behind the team it beat in the Outback Bowl. Mississippi State, at 8-5, garnered a No. 25 final ranking. The Bulldogs accrued 107 polling points (in which first is worth 25, 25th is worth one) to Iowa's 102 among the 64 voting coaches. Their ballots are not made public.

The top-25 AP finish secured some financial payouts for the Iowa coaching staff. Ferentz, under the terms of his contract extension signed in 2016, gets a $125,000 bonus for finishing in the top 25 (it would have been $150,000 for the top 20). His assistants get an extra 2 percent raise, meaning they'll get an average salary increase of 10 percent (up from eight that was earned by meeting other standards) by finishing in the top 25 (it would have been 11 percent if in the top 20).

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