Jan 2, 2021; Glendale, AZ, USA; Iowa State Cyclones linebacker O’Rien Vance and quarterback Brock Purdy (right) celebrate as they receive the defensive and offensive players of the game awards after defeating the Oregon Ducks 34-17 at the 50th PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Network
The 2021 Iowa State football hype train has officially left the station.
The Cyclones came in at No. 7 in 247Sports‘ initial top-25 ranking for the 2021 college football season released on Monday. This comes one day before Iowa State will complete the 2020 season with its highest postseason ranking in program history and first spot in the postseason rankings since 2000.
“The Cyclones fell one drive short of a Big 12 Championship in 2020, but the progress under coach Matt Campbell is quite clear,” the 247 article explains. “Campbell will again be a trendy name in coaching searches at both the college and NFL level in 2021, and that already includes reports of a Jetsmeeting and Campbell’s statement about Iowa State’s upcoming season. Since a 3-9 Year 1 with Campbell, Iowa State has four-straight winning seasons, two bowl victories and a 32-19 record. That includes a Fiesta Bowl win last week over Oregon behind 136 yards and two touchdowns from Breece Hall.”
Iowa State is expected to return 20 or more starters from its 2020 squad that finished 9-3 overall, 8-1 in the Big 12 and won the 2021 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, giving the program its first New Year’s Six bowl victory in its first New Year’s Six appearance.
The Cyclones have been bolstered by recent announcements from All-American tight end Charlie Kolar, three-time first-team All-Big 12 safety Greg Eisworth, three-year starter at defensive end Enyi Uwazurike and multiple-time All-Big 12 selection tight end Chase Allen as players who will return next season. Those come in addition to star junior quarterback Brock Purdy and Big 12 defensive player of the year Mike Rose announcing they’ll return after the win over Oregon.
Oklahoma is the highest-ranked Big 12 team in the poll as they came in at No. 2. The Cyclones split their 2020 series with the Sooners, winning 37-30 in Ames during the regular season then losing 27-21 in the Big 12 title game.
Iowa (No. 15), Texas (No. 18) and Oklahoma State (T-No. 23) are other Iowa State opponents in 2021 ranked in 247’s initial rankings.