Nov 23, 2019; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy (15) celebrates after a touchdown against the Kansas Jayhawks at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones beat the Jayhawks 41 to 31. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
For the first time in program history, Iowa State has made back-to-back appearances in the preseason AP Top-25.
The Cyclones enter the 2020 college football season slated as the No. 23 team in the country, according to the poll released on Monday. Iowa State ended a 41-year gap between the program’s first preseason appearance and its second in last season’s first poll, which pegged ISU at No. 21.
This is Iowa State’s 12th appearance in the AP Top-25 since 2017, which is the second-most in a four-year-stretch in program history, behind only 14 appearances from 1976 to 1978. The 1978 season also marked the program’s first appearance in the preseason AP Poll.
The Cyclones spent three weeks in the poll last season with the preseason mark being the peak, but climbing back into the rankings in week nine at No. 23. The program’s best ranking during its run dating back to 2017 is No. 14 in week 10 of that 2017 season, which followed the Cyclones’ undefeated October capping win over No. 5 TCU.
Iowa State finished 7-6 overall and 5-4 in Big 12 play last season while struggling mightily in close games, ending the year with a 2-4 mark in games decided by one score or less. Three of those losses came by a combined five points.
Even still, optimism is as high as ever for the 2020 Cyclones with a returning star at quarterback in junior Brock Purdy, rising star Breece Hall set to lead a talent group of running backs, All-American tight end Charlie Kolar leading perhaps the nation’s best tight ends room and a defense full of returning contributors, most notably All-Big 12 stalwarts Greg Eisworth, Mike Rose and JaQuan Bailey.
Last season’s national runner-up Clemson comes in at No. 1 in this year’s preseason poll, followed by Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma in the top-five. Defending national champion LSU plus Penn State, Florida, Oregon and Notre Dame round out the top-10.
Surely you are wondering how Ohio State, Penn State and Oregon could be ranked in the top-10 considering their fall seasons have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this will be the only poll featuring teams who are not playing in the fall.
That means Wisconsin, Michigan, USC, Minnesota and Utah, all teams rated above Iowa State, will not be eligible for the poll going forward, technically meaning the Cyclones will enter the year as the No. 15 team in the country. Iowa, which also will not play this fall, is in the preseason poll at No. 24.
Other Iowa State opponents in the poll include Texas at No. 14 and Oklahoma State at No. 15 while Baylor and TCU are both represented in the others receiving votes category.