Iowa Bowl Projection

Iowa Bowl Projection

With the bowl destinations becoming official early this evening at the latest, Hawkeye Insider Publisher breaks down where he things Iowa might end up in the postseason.

Iowa CITY, Iowa - A week ago today, I picked Iowa to the Insight Bowl with in-state rival Iowa State as the opponent. I also said I reserved the right to change my prediction at any time.

This would be that time.

The Cyclones didn't help me out by losing at Kansas State on Saturday. Iowa State at 6-6 isn't likely to get to Arizona. We'll probably never know if it would have gotten an Insight bid with one more win.

Another major part of my prognostication relied on Michigan advancing to a BCS Bowl. I think the dominoes fell the right way this weekend to open it up for college football's all-time winningest program to get that invite.

Wisconsin wrapped up its second Rose Bowl bid in a row on Saturday night by defeating Michigan State, 42-39, in the first conference championship game. If things were fair, the Spartans would get the conference's other BCS berth having won the Legends Division and owning a head-to-head win against Michigan. The system is flawed, to say the least.

The Capital One Bowl is next up in the Big Ten pecking order. Having selected Michigan State to play Georgia after the 2008 season and then regretting not taking a more well-followed Iowa, the event skips over the Spartans for Big Ten newbie, Nebraska. The Huskers also hold the head-to-head victory between the schools from East Lansing.

Perhaps a running-into-the-punter penalty in Saturday's championship game away from Pasadena, Michigan State drops into the lap of the Outback Bowl. The Spartans will play in the Tampa event for the first time and should travel well.

I'd be pretty surprised if those four Big Ten teams aren't off the board when we get to the Insight Bowl selection. After that, nothing would shock me.

Iowa, Ohio State and Penn State appear to be the contenders for the Arizona event. Based on on-field merit, the Nittany Lions would be the pick. But, as we all should know, a team's performance is only part of the selection equation and, quite often, not the primary criteria.

Tickets sales and TV ratings play a major role in a bowl committee's deliberations. So, too, do other intangibles.

The Insight Bowl, run buy the Fiesta, received some negative publicity after last year's game. Former CEO John Junker admitted that he extended financial gifts to power brokers in Arizona.

Do they want to bring on more controversy and put advertisers in a tough spot by bringing in Penn State? In case you've been living under a rock, the school and its football program is being rocked by allegations and charges of child rape by former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and a possible cover-up that helped lead to the firing of legendary coach, Joe Paterno.

I can't see the Insight and the pervading attitudes in the desert taking on the Lions and their issues. They would run the risk of not only dealing what has been revealed to this point in the scandal but also something else breaking in relation to that story during bowl season There's no need to do that with Ohio State and Iowa sitting there.

Ohio State comes with its own issues following last year's tattoo-gate. However, that train is losing steam with the stories at Penn State and Syracuse, where assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine recently was fired amid accusations of child sexual abuse of two former ball boys.

The Gator Bowl, who picks after the Insight, could try to work out a deal to get the Arizona event to pass on the Buckeyes. That might not be an easy thing to do. The two games alternate picks year-to-year and maybe the Florida game gives up the next two or three first selections to the Insight in order to get a Ohio State-Florida tilt this year for the Urban Meyer Bowl.

I don't think it happens. While the Gator already has sold 60,000 tickets (77,510 capacity) for its game, the Insight still has to weigh heavily the best way to put fannies in the seats at Sun Devil Stadium. Despite Ohio State's frequent trips to the Fiesta Bowl in recent years, the opportunity to pit the Buckeyes against Texas or Oklahoma might be too much for the Arizona crew to pass up.

Much like Penn State, there is some unknown factors with regard to the Big 12. There's a good chance that the conference sticks it to lame-duck members, Missouri and Texas A&M, and "encourages" its bowl partners to drop them in the selection process. I'll buy it because they league did it to Nebraska last year.

Oklahoma State could get into the national championship game, but I think we get an LSU-Alabama, SEC-Love Fest there with the Cowboys heading to the Fiesta. Big 12 member Kansas State and former Iowa Offensive Coordinator Bill Snyder will slide into a BCS bowl as well.

Next up for the Big 12 is Cotton Bowl, which isn't played in the Cotton Bowl, but in Cowboys Stadium. Look for Baylor and potential Heisman Trophy winner, Robert Griffin III, to head to Dallas.

The Alamo then steps up for the Big 12. The San Antonio event could go with the local Longhorns or Oklahoma. This probably will be a very tough call for that committee. With the PAC-12 team unlikely to travel well to this bowl, ticket sales for the Big 12 team becomes very important.

It's hard to say how stoked the Sooner fans will be for a roadie in Texas after having hopes for a national title and an embarrassing, regular-season ending defeat to rival Oklahoma State. While Longhorn fans aren't jumping for joy with their 7-5 campaign, it would be their first trip to the Alamo since facing Iowa in 2006 and the Longhorns probably are more of a sure thing than is Oklahoma.

So, if I haven't lost you yet, that would mean the Sooners fall to the Insight, who has the next Big 12 pick. You think the Arizona bowl might like a Ohio State-Oklahoma match-up? And even if the the Alamo goes with Oklahoma, I still think the Insight takes a Ohio State-Texas showdown ahead of Iowa playing one of those two Big 12 schools seeing as the Hawkeyes were at Sun Devil last year.

OK, that takes us to the Gator. With the 60,000 tickets already sold, the game is looking for TV ratings. Penn State will pull numbers in a match-up with Florida, but it also brings the baggage. That's going to be a very, very tough decision for the bowl and its sponsors.

As much as these bowls are about the almighty dollar, I think the Gator will sacrifice TV ratings for an Iowa team that brings a history of traveling well to Florida and boosting the Jacksonville economy. As I stated above, the Lions are a public relations nightmare right now.

With that, I'm calling for an Iowa-Florida match-up in the Gator. The game is slated for Jan. 2 at noon central in Jacksonville and will air on ESPN2.

Of course, I could be totally wrong. Please, don't book it.

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