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Rick Brown: Starting unranked a blessing for Ferentz’s Hawkeyes

[ 0 ] July 31, 2014 |

Nebraska’s 2014 football team returns 13 starters. Iowa returns 13 starters.

Iowa clobbered Nebraska, 38-17, in the final regular-season game of 2013 — in Lincoln.

So when the Amway Coaches Poll was released Thursday to kick off the new season, Iowa was surely ranked ahead of Nebraska. Right?

Wrong.

The Cornhuskers are ranked 22nd. Iowa didn’t make the Top 25. Or the Top 30.

Iowa, unranked in the coaches or Associated Press polls since late in the 2010 season, was eighth among teams getting votes — or ranked 33rd by a group of 62 coaches.

Four Big Ten teams were ranked – Ohio State (sixth) and Michigan State (eighth) from the East Division, and Wisconsin (14th) and the Cornhuskers from the West. Iowa, a trendy pick in the West, got left in the locker room.

Nebraska and Michigan, another team that got more votes than Iowa, are considered college football bluebloods with long and distinguished track records. That history resonates with voters.

But, Hawkeye fans should rejoice. Being unranked behind five Big Ten teams is a pitch right into coach Kirk Ferentz’s wheelhouse.

Ferentz has a golden track record of success when national buzz escapes his Hawkeyes.

Remember 2002? Iowa wasn’t ranked in the AP preseason poll, but finished eighth after a 38-17 loss to Southern Cal in the Orange Bowl.

Remember 2003? Same story. Iowa wasn’t ranked in the preseason poll but ended up eighth after a victory over Florida in the Outback Bowl.

The 2008 team was also unranked to start the year but finished 20th after beating South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.

Conversely, being ranked in the preseason poll has often led to a bust of a season. Iowa was ranked 11th in the 2005 preseason poll, 16th in 2006 and ninth in 2010. The Hawkeyes finished each of those three seasons unranked.

Iowa football under Ferentz suggests that Thursday’s slight means bright days ahead for the Hawkeyes.

Rick Brown, a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year, covers Hawkeye football and basketball for the Register. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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