ESPN ranks Iowa as one of college football’s top 20 programs during CFP era

The Iowa Hawkeyes have consistently won football games during the Kirk Ferentz era.

Led by spectacular defense and great special teams, Iowa has found a way to win despite an offense that has ranked among the nation’s worst each of the past three seasons.

Iowa has posted a 28-13 overall record and a 19-8 mark in Big Ten play during the past three seasons when its offense ranked No. 121, No. 129 and No. 130 in total offense in 2021, 2022 and 2023, respectively.

There’s something special about the Ferentz, Phil Parker and LeVar Woods wizardry.

This past season also marked the 10th season with the College Football Playoff. While Iowa is yet to make an appearance in the CFP, the Hawkeyes have been a frequent top 25 team in its rankings.

Iowa has posted an 88-40 overall mark during the CFP era.

With the 2023 season in the rearview and the CFP set to expand to a 12-team format in 2024, ESPN’s David Hale took a stab at ranking every team that’s made its way into at least one CFP top 25.

Hale used wins, playoff appearances, SP+ ratings, top-25 finishes and expectations to help decide his rankings. The Hawkeyes’ accomplishments were received favorably.

Iowa checked in at No. 16 nationally per Hale’s rankings during the CFP era.

The Hawkeyes have finished with a winning record every season of the playoff era, been ranked in more than half the committee’s top 25s, had four 10-win seasons and played for three Big Ten titles. They’ve done all that in spite of posting the 74th-ranked offensive SP+ and averaging just 25.4 points per game (good for 104th) in that span. Honest question: What if firing Brian Ferentz somehow disrupts the delicate equilibrium that has made this magic work? – Hale, ESPN.

Iowa’s average SP+ rating during the CFP era has been 15.0, which ranks 14th nationally. It’s been an impressive run for the Hawkeyes considering what the offense has failed to do for the most part.

As Iowa looks to a future with new offensive coordinator Tim Lester and wide receivers coach Jon Budmayr, perhaps there are brighter days ahead for the Hawkeye offense and program as a whole.

Iowa’s No. 16 ranking was seventh-best among Big Ten teams. Ohio State checked in at No. 3 nationally, Michigan was No. 5, Oregon No. 8, Washington No. 10, Wisconsin No. 11 and Penn State No. 13.

The top two teams were Alabama at No. 1 and Clemson at No. 2. Hale ranked Georgia No. 4 and chose the Bulldogs as the team most likely to dominate college football’s next 10 years.

Contact/Follow us @HawkeyesWire on X, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Iowa news, notes and opinions.

Follow Josh on X: @JoshOnREF

Story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire