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Path for Iowa to make College Football Playoff this season

On3 imageby:Andrew Graham05/15/24


While it might sound like a joke given the offensive product put on the field in 2023, it’s possible that Iowa could be a College Football Playoff entrant in 2024. Yes, Iowa, a team that averaged an FBS-worst 234.6 yards per game a year ago could be in the realm of making the 12-team CFP field.

But given the rather friendly schedule draw and the fact that Iowa managed to go 10-2 and make the Big Ten Championship Game in 2023 with the worst FBS offense, On3’s Andy Staples and The Associated Press’ Ralph Russo don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility, even is it’s still a long shot.

“Iowa’s in that weird position of Big Ten team, did not get a terrible Big Ten schedule draw, and it’s realistic,” Staples said. “I put it out and I knew what I was doing when I tweeted it out, because it’s like, ‘OK, I’m doing this for the shock value of Iowa in the playoff.’ But then you think about it, you become the Alonzo Mourning gif. You’re like, ‘Yeah, you know what? OK.'” 

In 2024, Iowa faces off against what is a fairly light Big Ten slate relative to the rest of the league. Of the new west coast entrants, the Hawkeyes travel to UCLA and will host Washington. And of previous Big Ten foes, Iowa manages to only have to travel to Columbus to face Ohio State while dodging other powerhouses.

Beyond that, the other games that could be of note are the annual rivalry matchup with Iowa State, trips to Michigan State and Maryland and a visit from Wisconsin.

But with 12 teams in the field, Russo also thinks the debate about strength of schedule will only ramp up with a more crowded field of 10 and even perhaps 9-win teams vying for spots.

“But in reality, though, I think the SEC and the Big Ten are all geared up to say — I mean they’ve already established as ‘Oh we’re going to be better, we’re going to be tougher than them.’ But even with, the more interesting part of it to a certain degree, is even within those conferences not everybody has the supercharged schedule. Some a little more super charged than others. So this is going to be, and for those of us who get a little bit exhausted about the strength of schedule and ‘You ain’t played nobody.’ It’s going to ramp up even more in college football.” 

And given the recent track record, it’s quite possible that Iowa is one of those teams.