116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
For the first time in a lot of years, I didn’t buy a Phil Steele’s College Football Preview in 2020.
I didn’t think there was going to be a college football season, and when there was, I wasn’t going to spend the money only to see the plug pulled in midseason.
I got my 2021 edition Monday.
I’m not a preseason magazine person for any sport. I get this one because it has all the schedules, the names of the players, all their scores of the last five seasons, how they did statistically over the last seven seasons, and a lot of team and individual rankings and opinions.
Do I read it all? Heck, no. I’ll leave it to someone else to learn about the height, weight and jersey number of Tulane center Sincere Haynesworth.
Me, I’m more interested in the second season of “I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson” on Netflix. Which dropped Tuesday. I saw Season 1 and laughed many times.
Since I’m giving Steele a pretty decent plug here, I hope he’ll be OK with me citing some his rankings for the season ahead. If not, Phil can call me for an interview and I’ll give him even more run.
Boiled down, the story is this: Phil picks Iowa State to again meet Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game, and has Wisconsin one spot ahead of Iowa for first place in the Big Ten West.
He not only takes Oklahoma to win the Big 12, but the national title. However, he says this about the Cyclones:
“Unlike last year, they get Texas, TCU and Oklahoma State at home so they could be favored in as many as 11 games this year.
“Matt Campbell has done a remarkable job here as he has made the Cyclones a legitimate National Title contender in 2021!”
About Iowa, Steele wrote “Both of Iowa’s final two foes last year, Michigan and Missouri, opted to not play. The Hawkeyes were the hottest team in football at the end of the year last year and would have won both those games, finishing 8-2 and likely in the Top 10.
“Kirk Ferentz does an incredible job and his team will be in every game and are very capable of being a contender in the Big Ten this year.”
Steele has Iowa State sixth in his “power poll,” Iowa 22nd.
On his preseason All-America team, Steele has Iowa State running back Breece Hall, ISU linebacker Mike Rose, and Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum as first-teamers. He ranks Linderbaum as No. 1 among draft-eligible centers for 2022, and says the same about Hall among running backs.
ISU tight end Charlie Kolar is on his second team. Cyclone center Collin Newell and ISU safety Greg Eisworth are third-teamers. Iowa running back Tyler Goodson and Iowa State defensive end Will McDonald are on his fourth team.
Folks, I’ve covered Iowa State for a while. To see so many Cyclones regarded so highly is new stuff. I’m not a student of offensive line play, so I can’t vouch for Newell. But Kolar, Eisworth, Hall, and McDonald are players, and Brock Purdy is no slouch at quarterback.
In ranking the units of each team, Steele says Iowa’s special teams are fourth-best in the nation, its defensive backs are ninth, linebackers 21st, running backs 35th, defensive linemen 48th, offensive linemen 53rd, and receivers (which includes tight ends) 55th.
I think he’s underestimating the two lines, and perhaps the running backs and linebackers. If Goodson gets any kind of help, Iowa’s better than 35th at RB.
Steele says Iowa State has the second-best linebackers, third-best running backs and fourth-best offensive line. Whoa!
Its receivers are eighth, quarterbacks 10th, defensive linemen 40th and defensive backs 43rd. Its special teams didn’t crack Steele’s top 70. You’ve got to have good special teams.
Seeing the O-line — not a strength in most Campbell ISU teams — ranked that high in the Big 12, let alone the nation, is jarring. But it’s an experienced unit that got better as last season preceded.
Oh, Steele says Iowa has the 18th-toughest schedule and Iowa State the 29th. He said ISU’s was the 12th-toughest last season and Iowa’s the 53rd.
There’s a lot of college football talent in this state in 2021. Iowa, in my opinion, has potential greatness in tight end Sam LaPorta, linebacker Jack Campbell, a number of defensive backs, and others.
OK, there’s your football post for the day. Thanks, Phil.
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