Martin: Iowa State debuts in top 25 of AP poll, and no one cares

Then-sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy gets ready on the sideline against the University of Kansas on Nov. 23. Iowa State won 41-31.

Zach Martin

When have we, as college football writers and fans, truly cared about the Associated Press (AP) preseason poll?

Answer: Never.

I loathe the AP poll before games are played. It’s a bunch of guessing and putting teams we all know belong at the top in the top 10. Outside of watch lists (please don’t get me started on that lunacy), any preseason poll should be looked at once and never looked at again.

Same can be said for the 2020 AP preseason poll.

Since almost 40 percent of the first top-25 rankings won’t even sniff a football field this fall, it’s pretty pointless to look at these rankings and take them seriously.

Iowa State debuted at No. 23, but truly, they are a top-15 team. The voters were encouraged to compile the rankings under the assumption every school would play the season one month ago when the ballots were initially sent.

Since eight teams were ranked ahead of the Cyclones, people will automatically remove those teams not playing from their memory and move the Cyclones into a more deserving slot.

What this does show us, just for speaking points, is the Big 12 is going to be very, very, very top heavy.

Oklahoma (No. 5), Texas (No. 14) and Oklahoma State (No. 15) are ahead of the Cyclones. I think that’s a fair placement, considering what all four teams bring back.

The argument can be made that all four teams are going to be powerful on the offensive side of the ball. Defensively, it’s the Big 12, so it changes from week to week.

But there is no doubt that these four teams will determine who goes to Dallas for the Big 12 Championship, and the winner will represent the conference in the College Football Playoffs.

This is a solid starting point for an Iowa State program that believes this is the year the pieces finally come together and special things happen in Ames.

Had they been ranked higher, I have the mindset that it wouldn’t be a good thing for one reason and one reason only.

The underdog mentality that has stuck with the Cyclones for as long as I can remember will continue to power them through another rugged schedule.

Matt Campbell is an underdog head coach; Brock Purdy, even with an offer from Alabama back in high school, is an underdog quarterback. There’s an offensive line that needs to replace four of its five starters from last season; that’s an underdog line.

Sure, there are expectations for Iowa State, probably more so this year than any other year in recent history. Yet those expectations will only grow the more it wins.

Starting so low in the AP poll means the Cyclones can slowly but surely gain some confidence with two games against Louisiana and TCU before their first big test in Week 3 at home against Oklahoma.

It’s imperative that Iowa State garner two dominating wins before the Sooners roll into town. It’ll make that initial ranking seem even more dumb than it already is.

College football, COVID-19 pandemic and all, is almost ready to kick off. Buckle up folks;

it’s going to be a show.