November 13, 2013

Bowl Outlook

After spending the holidays at home last season, the Hawkeyes have officially clinched being bowl eligible in 2013.

The question that remains unanswered is where will the Hawkeyes and their fans be spending the holidays?

Honestly, we won't know for sure until after the Big Ten title game, but a little speculation never hurt anyone when it comes to bowl games.

First, here's the pecking order for the Big Ten Bowl games: Rose, Capital One, Outback, Buffalo Wild Wings, Gator, Texas, Heart of Dallas, and finally Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. There is also the possibility of Ohio State going to the national title game this year, but that would take a loss by either Alabama or Florida State for that to occur and even then, it might not happen.

Currently there are seven teams in the Big Ten that are bowl eligible: Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota, Michigan, and Iowa. Penn State is ineligible for a bowl game and Purdue will not be bowl eligible this season. Northwestern, Indiana, and Illinois are still alive for six wins, but all three have some hills to climb to get there.

In the past few weeks there has been speculation that Wisconsin, who will likely finish 10-2, could be an at-large pick by the BCS, but those hopes seem to have dimmed this week. The Badgers are #22 in the current BCS standings and would have to jump quite a few schools to get there. Plus, non-AQ schools Northern Illinois and Fresno State are in the mix for one automatic BCS bid based on their current spot in the standings. At this point, unless Ohio State were to lose the Big Ten title game, it's unlikely that the league will get two BCS teams this year.

With that in mind, I'm going to assume that Ohio State is the only team from the Big Ten in the BCS and they get the automatic bid to the Rose Bowl. The Capital One Bowl would likely snap up Wisconsin and our best guess is that the Outback Bowl would take Michigan State or Nebraska, depending on who wins their game this weekend. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl will snap up the leftover between Michigan State or Nebraska.

How Iowa finishes and also how Michigan finishes will play a role in the rest of the bowl selections. Could a bid to the Gator Bowl be on the line at Kinnick Stadium next Saturday? Maybe. Minnesota will certainly have something to say about it with a likely 8-4 finish.

What if Iowa wins out and beats Michigan and Nebraska, which is certainly much more of a possibility than it was earlier this year? Then the Hawkeyes are in play for Buffalo Wild Wings and certainly wouldn't fall any lower than the Gator Bowl.

If Iowa wins one of their last two, then it could be the Gator Bowl, provided the win is over Michigan. Certainly not a lock, but the Gator Bowl likes fans that travel and Iowa would trump Minnesota if it's a choice between the two and the Hawkeyes do hold a win over the Gophers. If Iowa drops their last two, then they could fall to the Heart of Dallas Bowl, which is played on New Year's Day and it could potentially be a game against North Texas, coached by Dan McCarney.

The best guess right now is Iowa ends up in the Texas Bowl in Houston against a Big 12 team. Perhaps a game against former Iowa assistant Bill Snyder would be appealing to a lot of fans for the December 27th contest. But, a lot can change before now and December 8th, when bowl bids can officially be extended.

The good news is unlike last season, Hawkeye fans have a bowl game to look forward to this year.

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