Iowa Hawkeyes ranked No. 21 in ESPN’s top 25 future college football power rankings

In ESPN’s top 25 future college football power rankings, the Iowa Hawkeyes earned the No. 21 ranking nationally. Adam Rittenberg explains that the future team rankings examine programs on a macro level for the 2022, 2023 and 2024 seasons.

For example, factors such as coaching changes and stability are paired with recent on-field results and recruiting trajectory to determine these rankings. While Rittenberg notes that ESPN’s future power rankings are primarily personnel-based, he does mention that the transfer portal and even name, image and likeness can’t be ignored when putting together this type of projection.

If you’ve been following along with ESPN’s previous future power ranking installments, then you’re aware that Iowa earned the No. 7 future defense ranking. The Hawkeyes only trailed No. 5 Wisconsin among Big Ten teams in that category.

Why is Iowa so low then in the overall future college football power rankings? Welp, you guessed it. Iowa didn’t crack the top 25 in either of ESPN’s future top 25 quarterbacks and future offense power rankings.

As a result, Iowa checks in as the sixth highest-rated Big Ten program at No. 21 nationally. Ohio State registered No. 3 nationally, Michigan at No. 8, Penn State at No. 15, Michigan State at No. 18 and Wisconsin at No. 19.

Here’s what Rittenberg had to say about the Hawkeyes.

Iowa fans will be disappointed not to see their team higher after its first Big Ten championship game appearance since 2015. In the past five seasons, Iowa is tied for 13th nationally in win percentage (.705), and this fall could again challenge for the Big Ten West Division title. But three factors give me pause about Iowa’s trajectory: coach Kirk Ferentz’s longevity at 66, the Big Ten likely scrapping divisions soon, and a quarterback situation that doesn’t seem to be getting better.

The last item is of chief concern to Iowa fans, especially after Ferentz’s decision to appoint his son, Brian, as the team’s quarterbacks coach. Brian Ferentz, who has overseen three other positions during his tenure as offensive coordinator, must find ways to get more out of the passing game. If not, Iowa’s win total eventually will drop. – Rittenberg, ESPN.

It’s no secret that Brian Ferentz and Iowa are looking for much better results than the nation’s 121st total offense that the Hawkeyes trotted out in 2021. As Rittenberg pointed out in his breakdown of Iowa, quarterback Spencer Petras ranked 99th nationally in passing efficiency last season at 117.33.

Again, that’s beating a dead horse on necessary offensive improvements. Petras has worked extensively this offseason to reshape his body and refine his mechanics. Hopefully, if he wins the job over Alex Padilla and Joe Labas, that means he’s primed for his best season in Iowa City.

Naturally, Rittenberg served up his flowers for defensive coordinator Phil Parker and the Hawkeyes’ defense.

The defense is outstanding under Phil Parker, the nation’s most underrated defensive playcaller and a DB guru. Iowa has produced the Big Ten’s Defensive Back of the Year four times since 2015, and returns its most recent winner in senior Riley Moss. Both Moss and junior cornerback Jermari Harris had four interceptions last fall. Iowa also returns senior safety Kaevon Merriweather and senior cornerback Terry Roberts, but will need others, such as Quinn Schulteand Cooper DeJean, to emerge for 2023.

Safety Xavier Nwankpa, ESPN’s No. 155 prospect in the 2022 recruiting class, enters the mix this season. Iowa’s linebacker group should be among the nation’s best this fall, as productive seniors Jack Cambell and Seth Benson return alongside junior Jestin Jacobs. The key will be building for 2023 and 2024, especially if Jacobs departs for the NFL after this season. Juniors Jay Higgins and Kyler Fisher could be the next men up. Iowa’s line should be solid at worst and should get multiple seasons out of tackle Logan Lee, end Lukas Van Ness, end Deontae Craig and others. Seniors John Waggoner, Noah Shannon and Joe Evans provide leadership and production up front. – Rittenberg, ESPN.

Here’s some silver lining for Hawkeye fans. If ESPN is right on the money about Iowa defensively this season and beyond, then some tweaks and improvements offensively means that Iowa should project into the nation’s top 15 teams in the years to come.

Take this ranking for what it is: interesting offseason fodder on how one national analyst views Iowa in the overall pecking order of college football now and into the future three seasons.


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Story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire