The Iowa Hawkeyes Can Blame the Big Ten's Bad Rap for Their Low Poll Ranking

Tim Weideman@TimWeidemanAnalyst IOctober 15, 2009

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 26:  Adam Robinson #32 of the Iowa Hawkeyes runs for a fourth quarter touchdown trough the tackle of Josh Hull #43 of the Penn State Nittnay Lions on September 26, 2009 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. Iowa won the game 21-10. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

As a member of the Big Ten, the Iowa Hawkeyes have encountered a glass ceiling between themselves and a top 10 ranking.

The Hawkeyes and their fanbase haven't abandoned waving the "No Respect" banner, but arms are growing tired, and it isn't clear whether the pollsters are listening.

The Associated Press ranks Iowa 11th behind questionable teams such as Miami, LSU, Virginia Tech, Cincinnati, Boise State, and Ohio State. USA Today adds TCU to bump Iowa into 12th.

Arguments could be made that Iowa deserves to be ranked ahead of these teams. 

The strongest of arguments form when examining Cincinnati, Boise State, and TCU. 

TCU has played an unimpressive schedule to say the least. Nobody will know how good the Horned Frogs are until they face Mountain West foes BYU and Utah.

Cincinnati has by no means had a cupcake schedule, but is it any better than Iowa's? Exactly how good the Bearcats are will determine how they fare against South Florida tomorrow night.

Boise State played the most significant game of these three, hosting Oregon to start the season, but the Broncos' remaining schedule is laughable.

A near slip-up last night against Tulsa could have cost Boise State a BCS bowl bid or more.

Still, don't expect the Broncos to fall one spot in the polls.

Is that fair? Iowa dropped out of the polls after a near loss to Northern Iowa. 

Seems voters are playing favorites.

Why the lack of respect? Is 6-0 not a convincing record for the knowledgeable sports writers of the AP poll? Do the 59 coaches that vote for USA Today think the Hawkeyes' record is a fluke?

No, the pollsters would agree that 6-0 is a fine record.

Voters exercise caution when considering a team like Iowa not because its undefeated run came out of the woodwork, but because it is a member of arguably the weakest BCS conference.

The Big Ten is no longer known for producing great teams. That reputation has long been shot thanks to a 12-23 bowl game record in the last five years and only one national championship in the last decade.

However, with teams belonging to conferences weaker than the Big Ten sneaking ahead of the Hawks, one has to ask: Is holding the reputation of the Big Ten over the Hawkeyes fair?


If conference strength matters, Miami, LSU, Virginia Tech, and even Cincinnati deserve spots ahead of Iowa. 

The same can't be said for Boise, TCU, or Ohio State.

The Hawkeyes can't be held back merely because they are a Big Ten team.

Other factors are considered when rankings are handed out, such as quality wins.

Examine quality wins and the picture further blurs. 

Boise State, TCU, and Cincinnati haven't won bigger games than Iowa. LSU and Ohio State could also be included. 

Other than a loss to Florida, in which the Tigers played admirably, LSU has no wins of consequence.

As for the Buckeyes, their biggest win came against Wisconsin. Iowa has comparable wins against Penn State and Michigan.

Miami and Virginia Tech are the only two that have Iowa edged in quality wins and conference strength.

The Hawks could easily be ranked in the top 10. 

Yet pollsters continually give these teams the nod over the Hawkeyes.


The Big Ten hasn't produced dominant teams in some time. The Hawks aren't going to get the benefit of the doubt.

Fair or otherwise, Iowa will have to work for every spot it gains in the polls.

The only way Iowa will move up is by winning—a task that hasn't posed a problem thus far.


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