The Iowa Hawkeyes saw their regular season come crashing down a week ago as they fell to the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the season finale, presumably in retribution for their stumbling into the Big Ten Championship Game a year prior.
As frustrating as the season has been and as disappointing as the end was given the Hawkeyes controlled their own destiny, on senior day, against an opponent that hadn’t beaten them in seven tries, Iowa still finished with modest success on the season and thus has made a bowl game for the eighth straight season.
So, where will the Hawkeyes be bowling in 2022? We’ll have our definitive answers on Sunday afternoon after all the conference championship games are complete. But we have a pretty decent idea based on the conference’s bowl tie-ins and the relative success of the various teams in the Big Ten.
There are 42 total bowl games in the 2022-2023 season. That’s before you include the College Football Playoff. The Big Ten finished with nine bowl-eligible teams this season - four from the East and five from the West. Despite the East having fewer bowl-eligible teams, it was clearly the more top-heavy division with three teams ranked inside the CFP top-10.
Here’s a rundown of the conference’s tie-ins for the 2022-2023 season, listed in order of selection, which does not necessarily correlate to record or ranking.
Big Ten Bowl Tie-Ins
- #1 College Football Playoff
- #1a Rose Bowl gets Big Ten champion if not selected for playoffs. The Rose Bowl gets filled by a Big Ten team if champion is in the playoffs
- #2 The Citrus Bowl vs SEC
- #3 The ReliaQuest Bowl vs SEC
- #4 The Duke’s Mayo Bowl vs ACC
- #5 The Music City Bowl vs SEC
- #6 The Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl vs ACC
- #7 The Guaranteed Rate Bowl vs Big 12 #6
- #8 The Quick Lane Bowl vs MAC
So, assuming #2 Michigan manages to defeat unranked Purdue in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday, the Wolverines are a lock for the College Football Playoff. Even if they were to lose, there’s a slim chance either they or Ohio State could make the playoffs.
That leaves the other for the Rose Bowl, again assuming Purdue doesn’t do the unthinkable on Saturday. Penn State would then theoretically be in line for the Citrus Bowl.
Beyond the three top-10 teams from the East, you’ve got Maryland (7-5) and the five West teams, including Purdue (8-4), Illinois (8-4), Minnesota (8-4) Iowa (7-5) and Wisconsin (6-6).
Given Iowa’s record, they are presumably going to fall behind at least one of the 8-4 teams for the ReliaQuest Bowl, formerly known as the Outback Bowl. That leaves the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, Music City Bowl, Pinstripe Bowl as likely destinations.
Duke’s Mayo Bowl
Conference affiliations: Big Ten vs. ACC
Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.
Date: Friday, December 30
Time: 11am CT
Several outlets, including The Action Network, 247 Sports, Athlon Sports, Yahoo Sports and CBS Sports have Iowa projected to the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, which is excited for Hawkeye fans. The winning coach gets a giant tub of mayo dumped on them and who wouldn’t want to see Kirk covered in mayo?
As for opponent, all outlets are projecting the Hawkeyes to play North Carolina State in Charlotte, which would be... less than idea.
Conference affiliations: Big Ten vs. ACC
Location: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY
Date: Thursday, December 29
Time: 1pm CT
The Pinstripe Bowl, which should bring chills to anyone who attended back in 2017 when the Hawkeyes defeated Boston College, is a pretty real possibility. A pair of ESPN prognosticators, Kyle Bonagura and Mark Schlabach, have the Hawkeyes headed to New York for the holidays. Similar to the Mayo Bowl, all both have them facing the same opponents. This time it’s Pitt.
The only caveat to this one is just looking at the pecking order, neither Minnesota nor Illinois have ever played in the Pinstripe Bowl and thus they may be a more attractive option than the Hawkeyes.
Music City Bowl
Conference affiliations: Big Ten vs. SEC
Location: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
Date: Saturday, December 31
Time: 11am CT
The Music City Bowl, while perhaps the most highly coveted of the potential bowl destinations, is sounding increasingly unlikely for Hawkeye fans. After having their trip cancelled in 2020 thanks to a COVID-19 outbreak in the Missouri locker room, the Hawkeyes would make a great visitor given they’ve never been before.
But, both Illinois and Minnesota hold better records than the Hawkeyes and given the Hawkeyes may well be starting a third string QB on the second worst offense in the country, they aren’t likely to draw a ton of eyeballs.
Despite that, both USA Today and The Athletic have the Hawkeyes playing in Nashville on New Year’s Eve. There is some divergence on opponent, however. The Athletic is calling for a rematch of the Citrus Bowl with a showdown against Kentucky. That seems a bit unlikely. USA Today, on the other hand, expects Iowa to face South Carolina and Spencer Rattler. That sounds... terrifying after watching them thrash Tennessee.
Wherever they end up bowling, it will be interesting to see just how well Hawkeye fans travel. Iowa has a reputation for bringing loads of fans to bowl games who not only attend, but dip into their wallets when on site. With apathy setting in following a disappointing finish to the year, whether Hawkeye fans live up to their reputation will be something to watch.
Bowl selections will be announced on Sunday, December 4th following Championship Week, which kicks off on Friday evening with the Conference USA and Pac-12 Championship Games. A full watch guide for the weekend can be found here.