For the second year in a row, the Iowa Hawkeyes started the year unranked and unnoticed, yet they finish the season ranked 8th in both major polls.
Last year, the Hawkeyes were able to climb into the Top 10 and stay there. In fact, they were ranked as high as third in the polls at the end of the regular season.
This year, Iowa made four separate appearances in the Top 10, including the permanent visit to end the season.
In 2002, Iowa was predicted to finish 8th in the Big Ten through a consensus average of the preseason magazines. They went 8-0 and won the Big Ten title.
This year, Iowa was picked to finish in 6th place by the same magazines. They tied for fourth and won 10 games, including two wins over final AP top 10 teams Michigan and Miami (OH).
So the question is this: Where will Iowa be picked to finish next year? Will they start the season ranked in the Top 25?
I suspect that Iowa will be picked to finish in 4th place by the consensus average and they will start the 2004 season ranked in the preseason top 25.
We only have to wait eight months to figure it all out.