Folks, we’re approaching the end of the season and with the Hawkeyes eliminated from the Big Ten Championship Game, it’s time to shift our focus elsewhere. No, no, who cares about Iowa’s remaining two contests against Purdue and Nebraska. I’m talking Iowa’s real nemesis: BOWL SEASON. The Hawkeyes’ woes in bowl games have been well documented so there’s really no reason to dwell on the past, but it’s that time of the year where you’re surely thinking ahead at where the Hawks might play and who they’ll draw.
In case you forgot, this year’s Rose Bowl is a playoff semifinal game so the Big Ten doesn’t have an automatic tie-in! The Big Ten’s potential 2017 bowl tie-ins are as follows:
- Citrus Bowl (Shared with ACC, SEC, and Notre Dame)
- Orange Bowl (Shared with ACC, SEC, and Notre Dame)
- TaxSlayer Bowl (Shared with ACC, SEC, and Notre Dame)
- Music City Bowl (Shared with ACC, SEC, and Notre Dame)
- Outback Bowl (vs. SEC)
- Holiday Bowl (vs. Pac-12)
- Pinstripe Bowl (vs. ACC)
- Foster Farms (vs. Pac-12)
- Heart of Dallas Bowl (vs. Big 12)
- Quick Lane (vs. ACC)
That’s a whole lot of possible bowl destinations for the Big Ten, but things are a bit more narrow for the Hawkeyes. While you can eliminate some of the top tier bowls such as the Citrus or Orange, you can also officially rule out the TaxSlayer and Outback Bowls, as Iowa has played in both too recently to make a return.
With all that said, where is Iowa projected to fit into the bowl picture? Let’s take a look at what some experts said, with links attached in each outlet name.
SB Nation: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Boston College Eagles
The Eagles aren’t yet bowl eligible at 5-5, but figure to get there with UConn and Syracuse as their remaining opponents. After starting the year off 2-4, BC has gone on to win three of their last four, including a shootout against Louisville and a blowout against FSU, and they boast one of the best defenses in the country.
It’s not the most appealing matchup and Yankee Stadium isn’t the most appealing venue for a bowl game in the dead of winter, but this could be one you see Iowa with a solid chance of winning. Iowa’s never played in the Pinstripe Bowl, nor have they ever played Boston College, which could be a good draw for Hawkeye fans.
ESPN: Foster Farms Bowl vs. Washington Huskies/Washington State Cougars
ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura and David M. Hale both project Iowa to fly out west to Santa Clara for the Foster Farms Bowl, although they disagree on the opponent - they pick Washington and Washington State, respectively. I’ll give it to you straight - I want NO part of facing either of these teams in any venue. As of this post, Wazzu is 9-2, Washington is 8-2, and they’ll likely be playing for a shot at winning the Pac-12 North when the Apple Cup comes around at the end of the season. Both boast high-powered offenses and play styles of offense that generally give Iowa defenses fits come bowl season.
As for the bowl location, I don’t think the Foster Farms Bowl would be a huge draw for Iowa fans. Sure, Hawkeye fans travel well, but the Bay Area might not be the most enticing vacation spot come December. Add in what has been described as one of the worst stadiums in the NFL, and it doesn’t sound like a great experience. Of course, Iowa’s never played in the Foster Farms Bowl, so I could very well be wrong.
Sports Illustrated: Music City Bowl vs. Texas A&M Aggies
Like the Hawkeyes, A&M is 6-4 and three of their four losses came to ranked squads, while the fourth was an epic collapse to UCLA in their season opener. They have a good chance at finishing the season 8-4 with games coming up against Ole Miss and (maybe good?) LSU. You figure Iowa could take advantage of what’s been a less than stellar defense, but their offense is balanced and could pose a problem for Iowa if it’s clicking (and let’s be honest, opposing offenses always seem to be clicking come late December/early January).
This is a bowl we could get behind! Lots of people wanted Iowa to make the trip to Nashville last season and were disappointed with another Outback Bowl berth, so I figure they’d have no problems making the trip this time around. Iowa’s never played in the Music City Bowl, they haven’t played the Aggies since 1931, and Nashville is dope. That’s about all you need to know.
Sporting News: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Virginia Cavaliers
Bleacher Report: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Virginia
The Pinstripe Bowl, again! Sporting News and Bleacher Report have Iowa playing Virginia, who boasts impressive wins against teams such as UConn, William & Mary, and alright I lied they don’t have very many good wins. With games against Miami and Virginia Tech remaining, the 6-4 Cavaliers could very well end the season 6-6 and having lost 5 of 6, which is the kind of opponent you want Iowa to play if you’re into the idea of Iowa winning a bowl game at all costs.
There might not be a huge draw to this one against what would be an average opponent in a cold weather city, but maybe a Times Square New Year’s celebration could convince Iowa fans to head to NYC for a footy game in a baseball stadium. The Hawkeyes have never played Virginia in football, which could also draw some people.
CBS: Music City Bowl vs. Missouri Tigers
I thought it was a joke that CBS was picking Mizzou to go to a bowl, so much so that I had to look up their record, and would you look at that! The Tigers are 5-5 and have won four straight against football powerhouses UConn, Idaho, Florida, and Tennessee. They’d have to beat Vanderbilt or Arkansas to get their sixth win, which is definitely doable. What a world we live in.
This is a much better draw than A&M would be for the Hawkeyes, as Missouri is not very good. Despite being from neighboring states, the two schools haven’t played since the 2010 Insight Bowl. That was a fun game. This could be a fun game. I see no problem with this projection.