Beating a Top 5 football team is an accomplishment, whether home, away, or in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Iowa plays a Top 5 team Saturday when it faces No. 4 Ohio State. It goes to Columbus with a 3-game winning streak against Top 5 teams. Which, statistically, is kind of wild.
The rankings I’m going by are those of Associated Press.
2010: Iowa 37, No. 5 Michigan State 6 in Iowa City. The Spartans entered the game with an 8-0 record. They finished 11-2.
2009: Iowa 21, No. 5 Penn State 10 in State College. The Nittany Lions were 3-0. They went on to an 11-2 season.
2008: Iowa 24, No. 3 Penn State 23 in Iowa City. Penn State went on to finish — you guessed it — 11-2.
There is only one other Big Ten team that won its last game against a Top 5 team. That was Michigan State, which beat No. 4 Wisconsin in 2011, 37-31.
Nebraska has an 8-game losing streak against Top 5 foes. Penn State? Seven games. Ohio State? Six games. Michigan? Four games.
Northwestern? The Wildcats have lost 36 straight games to Top 5 teams. Its last such win was in 1959, when it won 14-10 at No. 5 Iowa.
Ohio State hasn’t even played a Top 5 team since 2009 when it was edged by No. 3 USC in Columbus, 18-15.
Nebraska’s last game against a Top 5 squad was also in 2009 when it fell to No. 3 in the Big 12 title game, 13-12. It lost to No. 4 Missouri and No. 4 Oklahoma by a total score of 114-45 in 2007.
I could have spent hours digging into this for obscure stats. I did find Virginia Tech is 1-19 against Top 5 opponents with Frank Beamer as its coach. And the Hokies are 222-105-2 under Beamer.
Alabama has a 4-game winning streak against Top 5 clubs. Of course it had to be Alabama. The wins:
2012: BCS title game: Beat No. 1 Notre Dame, 42-14
2012: SEC title game: Beat No. 3 Georgia, 32-28
2012: Won at No. 5 LSU, 21-17
2011: BCS title game: Beat No. 2 LSU, 21-0
Other programs of note and their current streaks against Top 5 teams:
LSU: Lost 1 (but has won 5 of its last 7)
Texas A&M: Lost 1
Georgia: Lost 1
South Carolina: Lost 2
Florida: Won 1
Texas: Lost 1
Oklahoma State: Lost 1
Oklahoma: Lost 2
Iowa State: Won 1 (beat No. 2 Oklahoma State 37-31 in 2 OT in 2011)
Florida State: Lost 3
Clemson: Won 1
Miami: Lost 2
Oregon: Won 1
Stanford: Won 2 (beat No. 2 USC and No. 1 Oregon last year)
USC: Lost 2
Boise State: Won 1
Notre Dame: Lost 8