Iowa State Football: Why Cyclones aren’t a national title contender

Sarah Phipps-USA TODAY Sports
Sarah Phipps-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite a bunch of talent and experience, according to the blue-chip ratio, Iowa State football doesn’t have what it takes to win the national title.

Based on Iowa State football‘s 2020 season, you wouldn’t blame anyone for being optimistic about what the Cyclones can achieve next season.

Iowa State reached the Big 12 championship game, finished ninth in the final AP poll, and even won the Fiesta Bowl against Oregon.

It’s not a stretch to say it was the best season the Cyclones have ever had and with a bunch of key starters, on both sides of the ball returning, Iowa State football seems like a legitimate candidate to reach the College Football Playoff or even win it all.

Brock Purdy is a legit quarterback and running back Breece Hall is a bonafide Heisman contender. The offense also brings back Xavier Hutchinson and Charlie Kolar, not to mention a defense that returns Mike Rose, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year last year.

The Cyclones have talent and head coach Matt Campbell has done a great job of developing lower-ranked players into stars. Yet, Bud Elliott says according to the blue-chip ratio, it still doesn’t matter which is why teams like Iowa State shouldn’t be considered contenders, at least not for the national title. Here’s what Elliott writes to explain it:

"“Put simply, to win the national championship, college football teams need to sign more four- and five-star recruits (AKA “Blue Chips”) than two- and three-star players over the previous four recruiting classes. This has been true basically as far back as modern internet recruiting rankings have existed. Media will sometimes hype a team that has not met the threshold as a national title contender, but history has shown that is not a smart practice.”"

The blue-chip ratio states that 50 percent of your signees need to be rated as four or five-star prospects according to the 247 sports composite rankings. This is the minimum talent needed and for the 2021 season, Iowa State football doesn’t meet that threshold.

Only 16 programs do nationwide. Oklahoma and Texas are two of them, and to be fair, Iowa State did win two of the three games against those teams in 2020. But the Cyclones also lost to the Sooners in the Big 12 title game and OU no longer has a freshman quarterback.

The blue-chip ratio says nothing about making the playoff. Michigan State made it back in 2015 but was then crushed by Alabama in the playoff. Iowa State would likely meet a similar fate.

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Iowa State football is capable of winning the Big 12 championship — last season taught us that. But winning a national title isn’t realistic unless Matt Campbell really does work miracles.