Iowa Hawkeyes hang on to spot in college football's final top-25 polls

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

Iowa’s football team made some history Tuesday when the final polls of the 2021 season were released.

The Hawkeyes wound up with a No. 23 national ranking in both the USA TODAY Sports Coaches’ Poll and the Associated Press poll. This marks the first time in the 23-year Kirk Ferentz era that Iowa has been ranked in the final poll in four straight years.

  • Iowa’s 2018 team finished with a 9-4 record and No. 25 ranking in both polls after a 27-22 upset of Mississippi State in the Outback Bowl.
  • The 2019 team was ranked in every poll that season and wound up No. 15 in the AP after a 10-3 record and 49-24 rout of USC in the Holiday Bowl.
  • The 2020 Hawkeyes went 6-2 in a pandemic-shortened season and finished No. 16 by the AP.
  • And now, after a 10-4 season that ended with a 20-17 Citrus Bowl loss to Kentucky, the Hawkeyes dropped six spots to No. 23.

Of course, the final ranking is a far cry from the No. 2 rating — highest in the program since 1985 — that the Hawkeyes achieved after a 6-0 start and multiple top-10 wins (against Iowa State and Penn State). In fact, No. 23 is Iowa's lowest ranking all year.

Other Big Ten teams in the final coaches poll: No. 3 Michigan, No. 5 Ohio State and No. 8 Michigan State.

Seth Benson (44) and the Hawkeyes take the field in Orlando before their 20-17 loss to Kentucky.

Looking ahead:Leistikow: Projecting Iowa football's starters for the 2022 season

The No. 23 ranking will benefit the bank accounts of Iowa’s assistant coaches. According to language in Ferentz’s contract, a seven-win season with bowl participation and a minimum team graduation rate warrant an 8% raise, but that increases by 2% (to 10%) with a top-25 ranking in either final poll.

The last time the Hawkeyes enjoyed four straight seasons with a football team that was ranked in the final poll was under Hayden Fry. All five of his teams from 1983 through 1987 finished in the AP’s final top 20 — 14th in 1983, 16th in 1984, 10th in 1985, 16th in 1986 and 16th in 1987.

Iowa’s 2022 version opens play Sept. 3 at home against South Dakota State.