The headline to this post fibbed. There is no definitive word on Iowa’s bowl game situation.
But you got to see outlines of kangaroos. That’s something.
Does Iowa go to the Outback Bowl if it bounces MInnesota in the Metrodome next Saturday night? Not necessarily. And I’m not convinced the Capital One Bowl is even remotely possible. If Michigan State loses at Penn State (and it’s not much of an if), MSU finishes 9-3. How the Cap One takes the Spartans over an 8-4 Iowa that lost to MSU, I have no idea.
But these are bowls.
What’s more possible is that Iowa could finish 8-4 and slide out of the Outback because the BCS doesn’t take two Big Ten teams. But that’s highly unlikely, too. If Penn State wins over MSU and Ohio State beats Michigan like a drum, the Penn State goes to the Rose Bowl and Ohio State probably goes to another BCS game. Unless, that is, Oregon State wins its remaining two games and takes the BCS’ automatic spot for the Pac-10, with USC also in the BCS as an at-large. Which probably drops Ohio State to the Cap One, and lowers every remaining Big Ten bowl team a notch.
Oregon State plays at Arizona, then concludes with a home game against Oregon. The Beavers are pretty good and really motivated, yet I’d only call it 50/50 that they win both. But let’s say they do. Would USC really be a lock for a BCS berth if it wins out against so-so Notre Dame in Los Angeles and bad UCLA in Pasadena? Uhhhh … yes. The Fiesta Bowl would hop all over the Trojans, and Ohio State would probably fall out of the BCS.
Unless Utah loses to BYU and Boise State loses to either Nevada or Fresno State, with the latter a distinct possibility. This stuff matters. Honestly.
Are you confused enough yet?
If Iowa is 8-4 and Ohio State does get a BCS nod, I’ll go with the conventional wisdom and say the Hawkeyes reach the Outback. And against a South Carolina team that just lost 56-6 to Florida Saturday. So that’s not altogether thrilling.
Now, let’s say Iowa loses to Minnesota. What then? Chaos, that’s all.
At 9-3 after it dumps Illinois Saturday in Evanston, Northwestern can’t be bumped by a 7-5 team. The Big Ten forbids it among its bowl partners. Assuming Ohio State is in the BCS, that would mean the Outback would then have to choose 9-3 Northwestern or 8-4 Minnesota. To a bowl game, that’s like choosing being eaten by a lion or being eaten by a bear. Neither brings fans.
Well, the being eaten by a lion or bear would be a great gate attraction, but not Northwestern or Minnesota against South Carolina in Tampa.
Next up would be the Alamo Bowl. The Big Ten rule is a non-BCS bowl partner can take a Big Ten team that’s one game worse than another league team, but not if that team is 6-6. Meaning, it can take a 7-5 team over an 8-4 team. If you’re the Alamo, you take a 7-5 Iowa or a 7-5 Wisconsin over an 8-4 Minnesota and you apologize to no one.
So which would it be? I’m guessing it’s Wisconsin since the Badgers have been to San Antonio just once, that in 2002, while the Hawkeyes have made four Alamo Bowl trips, including one just two years ago. For the legend of the traveling Iowa fans, Wisconsin people have been known to flood bowl destinations with red and white.
That gives the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando a pick between Minnesota and Iowa. How does the Champs not take an 8-4 Minnesota team that finished its season with a win over 7-5 Iowa? These are bowl games, that’s how. But as a sportswriter hoping to have something to write about besides the vapid waste that is Disney World, I want Iowa to get the best game possible. That won’t happen in the Champs Sports with an ACC also-ran.
But just in case the Champs somehow took Minnesota over Iowa and its legion of merry traveling fans, that would kick Iowa down to the Insight Bowl in Phoenix against a Big 12 team, probably either Kansas or Nebraska. Oh, wouldn’t an Iowa-Nebraska game be precious. It would beat the bejesus out of playing any ACC team in the Champs.
Iowa can make most of this conjecture go away by winning at Minnesota. It will be easier said than done.
How unpredictable is this? Here are the current bowl projections of three Web sites of note:
ESPN.com: Iowa vs. Virginia Tech in the Champs Sports.
CBS Sportsline.com: Iowa vs. South Carolina in the Outback.
Collegefootballnews.com: Iowa vs. Nebraska in the Alamo.
And that, dear friends, is the definitive word on Iowa’s bowl situation. Next: how to fix America’s economy.