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Austin R. Vaughn | NCAA.com | October 11, 2015

Poll Position: Don't overlook the Hawkeyes

  The Hawkeyes are 5-0 and ranked 17th. And, no one is paying attention.

ASSOCIATED PRESS POLL
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Most of the time, when looking at polls, people take notice of the big jumps or drops and make assessments on the state, or lack thereof, of those teams' playoff hopes. Meanwhile, there's a block of teams in the middle of the poll who keep churning out wins and slowly climbing their way up while everyone else is busy looking at the flashy, exciting moves.

The hares keep sprinting and stalling, but the tortoises, slowly but surely, just keep on moving.

For instance, No. 11 Florida State is an upset of No. 5 Clemson away from a clear path to the playoff, Stanford is No. 15 and is tied with 23rd-ranked Cal for the number one spot in the Pac-12 North, and No. 17 Iowa only has one ranked team left on their schedule.

Clemson is heavily favored over the Noles, and I don't think anyone is expecting an upset in that contest. Stanford has to welcome UCLA to Palo Alto this week and finishes the season against Cal and No. 14 Notre Dame, a rocky road to say the least.

But, for Iowa, the road looks clear and smooth after this week.

The Hawkeyes have to visit a disappointed Northwestern squad who were just dealt their first loss of the season. But make no mistake: The 20th-ranked Wildcats are definitely not a team to sleep on.

Their game next week is sure to be a close struggle between two stout defenses. It's hard to say who will be able to break through, but Iowa is playing to stay undefeated, while Northwestern has got to feel a little deflated.

Iowa has shown they have what it takes to come out on top of a defensive gridlock, forcing four turnovers to upset then-No. 19 Wisconsin 10-6 in Madison.

Of course, even if the Hawkeyes earn the hard-fought W next week and coast on through the remainder of the regular season, they've got quite a challenge in the Big Ten Championship with whoever ends up on top of the East.

But, it's a championship game and anything can happen, and no one will say an undefeated B1G champion, even if it's Iowa, doesn't get in the playoff.

It may sound like a pipe dream, but, trust me, you don't wanna sleep on the Hawkeyes.
 

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