It appears likely Iowa will open a football season with two ranked opponents for the first time since 1974.
The Hawkeyes start the 2021 season at home against Indiana on Sept. 4. Indiana (6-2) finished this season No. 12 in Associated Press’ Top 25 despite losing to Mississippi in the Outback Bowl. It’s the first time the Hoosiers finished a season in the rankings since 1988, and the highest they’ve been in a final poll since 1967.
As of now, Indiana has 19 returning starters back including quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who was injured and missed the Outback Bowl.
In Week 2 on Sept. 11, Iowa goes to Iowa State. The 9-3 Cyclones were No. 9 this season, the highest final ranking in school history. They open the 2021 season at home against Northern Iowa before meeting the Hawkeyes.
Iowa State, too, has the vast majority of its starters returning.
Iowa (6-2) was 16th in this season’s final AP poll, its third-straight year of being ranked at season’s end. It was 15th last season, 25th the season before that.
This last time the Hawkeyes were ranked in the final poll for three consecutive seasons was 2002-2004.
The last time Iowa opened a season with two ranked teams was when it lost 24-7 at No. 6 Michigan, then beat No. 12 UCLA in Iowa City, 21-10.
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The Hawkeyes haven’t started a season against a ranked opponent since 2000 when they lost 27-7 to No. 8 Kansas State in Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium.
ESPN.com’s “Way-Too-Early” Top 25, released Monday night, has Iowa State No. 8, Indiana No. 10, and Iowa No. 12. The 6-2 Hawkeyes were 16th in this year’s final AP poll.
Sporting News published a similar story, putting Iowa State 9th, Indiana 16th and Iowa 17th.
Brett McMurphy of Stadium has Iowa State 7th, Iowa 22nd, and Indiana unranked.