LSU sits atop the college football polls and is the only remaining undefeated team. The Tigers have played eight nationally ranked schools this year, most in the nation. The national title match-up with #2 Alabama will be their ninth such game.
What does that have to do with Iowa State? The Cyclones – who had seven games against schools ranked when they played – are second on that list.
Three other ISU opponents – Missouri, Iowa and Rutgers – were unranked the week they faced the Cyclones but went on to earn bowl bids. UNI, a Cyclone foe from the FCS, made its national playoffs.
Iowa State defeated two ranked opponents in 2011, winning by 34 points at Texas Tech and upsetting No. 2 Oklahoma State.
To put those two wins into context, here are some programs that failed to defeat even one ranked opponent this season: Florida (0-5), Florida State (0-2), Penn State (0-4), Tennessee (0-5), Texas (0-4) and Washington (0-4).
Also, consider that BCS bowl teams Michigan (one), Virginia Tech (one), West Virginia (one) and Stanford (two) have the same or fewer wins vs. ranked teams than the Cyclones this fall.
The 2011 Cyclone football team embraced its challenging schedule (favored in BCS games only against KU) and parlayed it into a bowl trip to New York City despite the skeptics.