A lot can happen in the upcoming weeks, and the next two games on Iowa’s schedule will essentially determine Iowa’s fate for the year.
The Hawkeyes sit at 6-2 and will go bowling no matter what happens in their remaining four games. If Iowa wins out, you’re looking at a trip to Indianapolis and potentially a big-time bowl.
However, considering where the Hawkeyes sit now, where are they projected to go in January? Here’s what different media outlets are saying.
ESPN: TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura and Mark Schlabach both predict a rematch of the 2015 Gator Bowl.
Facing the Volunteers brings back 2015 for Hawkeye fans, and rightfully so; Tennessee decimated Iowa 45-28.
This season’s Volunteer squad is very different than 2015. And by different, I mean bad. Tennessee is 4-5 and, given how its played this season, six wins is no lock.
This year, however, Tennessee is not a good football team. The Volunteers sit at 4-5. Somewhere, Peyton Manning is shaking his head.
Stadium: Holiday Bowl
Stadium’s Brett McMurphy projects the Hawkeyes to clash with the Huskies. Out of all these projected matchups, Husky quarterback Jacob Eason is the best opposing quarterback. This season, he’s thrown for 2,297 yards and 20 touchdowns.
CBS Sports: Holiday Bowl
Opponent: Arizona State
Eno Benjamin vs. the Iowa defense. Sign me up.
Bleacher Report: TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
Joe Tansey of Bleacher Report predicts Iowa clashes with Kentucky in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl... the best part of this? Iowa’s secondary defending former Hawkeye basketball player Ahmad Wagner? I’m so here for this one.
Side note: Wagner has 13 catches for 249 yards and two touchdowns, including one of the best grabs college football this year:
Sporting News: TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
Opponent: Texas A&M
Bill Bender predicts the Hawkeyes will clash with the Aggies. Texas A&M will likely lose two out of its last three games this season, as it plays both Georgia and LSU on the road to close out the year.
Quarterback Kellen Mond presents a similar challenge to the Iowa defense as it faced with Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald in the Outback Bowl. Mond is a great athlete with an even better arm.
Black Heart Gold Pants: Redbox Bowl
Opponent: Arizona State
Our own Doug Saye has the Hawkeyes headed to Santa Clara for the Redbox Bowl against Arizona State (same opponent as CBS Sports, different bowl). Per Doug, that has more to do with bowl tie-ins and contract restrictions than views on the rest of the season.
I project Iowa to a 9-3 record and a second place finish in the Big Ten West division. Unfortunately, they don’t qualify for the Outback, TaxSlayer, and thankfully, the Pinstripe Bowl. This means they could get a Citrus, Holiday, or Redbox selection.
I don’t see the Citrus passing on the Big Ten West champions nor do I see the Holiday Bowl passing on a Michigan team that has tumbled down the list due to qualification issues as well.
Here are the qualifying issues I found:
Citrus: Penn State, Minnesota, Michigan
Outback: Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Northwestern
Holiday: Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Wisconsin
TaxSlayer: Iowa, Penn State
Pinstripe: Indiana, Iowa, Northwestern, Penn State, Wisconsin
Redbox: Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, Nebraska, Purdue
We’ll have a much more clear picture of bowl possibilities, and a fresh set of prognostications from the “experts”, following this weekend’s matchup with #16 Wisconsin.