We’re in the dog days of summer and Iowa football has started fall camp, so it’s about time to talk about season prognostications and potential bowl destinations. Sure, Iowa has yet to play a game and we aren’t even sure who they’ll start at quarterback but Akrum Wadley solves all problems so championship or bust, amirite? Let’s start with the rules of the college football postseason.
- Four teams are chosen for the College Football Playoff.
- Six bowls rotate for the semifinals: Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, and Peach.
- The bowls hosting the semifinals this year are the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl.
- The National Championship game will take place on January 8th, 2018 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA.
- As the Rose Bowl is hosting a semifinal, the Big Ten Champion will play in one of the other New Year’s bowls, provided they do not make the College Football Playoff.
- The highest ranked champion from the Group of Five mid-majors (AAC, C-USA, MAC, MWC, Sun Belt) is guaranteed a spot in the non-playoff bowls if they fail to make the playoff.
- The Big Ten has a six-year contract with the eight non-playoff bowl games (aside from the Pinstripe, which is an eight-year contract). Per the terms of that contract, the bowls are to select at least five different Big Ten schools over six years.
- As of today, the non-playoff bowl games are the same as last season. They’re supposedly broken down into the following tiers, though it doesn’t appear that there is any rhyme or reason to placing the teams into said tiers. Tier 1: Holiday, Citrus and Outback. Tier 2: Pinstripe, Music City/TaxSlayer, and Foster Farms. Tier 3: Quick Lane and Heart of Dallas/Armed Forces.
- The Music City/TaxSlayer and Heart of Dallas/Armed Forces Bowls alternate each year. As the Big Ten played in the Music City last season, they’ll presumably play in the TaxSlayer Bowl in 2017. A Big Ten team hasn’t qualified for the Armed Forces/Heart of Dallas Bowl since 2014. It’s unclear as to how this affects the alternating of bowls but assuming that qualification of a Big Ten team is wholly irrelevant, the Armed Forces Bowl will a Big Ten bowl in 2017.
- Iowa has played in the following bowls since 2010: Insight, Outback, TaxSlayer, Rose and Outback.
- People who were alive the last time Iowa won a bowl game: Prince, David Bowie, Amy Winehouse, Steve Jobs, Randy Savage. Yeah, you read that correctly. Amy Winehouse was still alive the last time Iowa won a bowl game.
This might blow you away but Iowa is once again predicted to finish in the middle of the pack by most media outlets. The preseason media poll released in July had Iowa finishing 4th in the Big Ten West, comfortably ahead of Minnesota but nipping at the heels of Nebraska. Bill C of SBNation, who creates stats that are objectively biased against the Hawkeyes, has Iowa 5th in the West. Athlon Sports, who says Iowa has the best OL and LB unit in the conference (and the 5th best DL), somehow has them finishing 4th in the West behind Nebraska, who has the 3rd best DB and 4th best OL. Sports Illustrated has Iowa at 9th overall and 4th in the division. The Comeback also has Iowa 4th in their division.
Regardless of projections for divisions or final standings, everyone seems to agree that the Hawkeyes will at the very least win 6-7 games and once again be bowl eligible in 2017. As far as their projections, here’s what the experts say:
247 Sports: Pinstripe Bowl vs. N.C. State
Athlon Sports: Foster Farms Bowl vs. Washington State
College Football News: Holiday Bowl vs. UCLA
Orlando Sentinel: Music City Bowl vs. Kentucky
SBNation (based on Vegas projections): Music City Bowl vs. Arkansas.
Sporting News: TaxSlayer Bowl vs. Arkansas
Amy Winehouse was still alive the last time Iowa won a bowl game.
These projections are consistent with Iowa’s predicted middle of the pack finish in the Big Ten. College Football News is the most bullish on the Hawkeyes, as they’d probably have to win 9+ games to play in the Holiday Bowl. A few of the projections have Iowa playing in the Music City Bowl which, as explained earlier, will likely be the TaxSlayer Bowl.
Some of those matchups provide quite a bit of intrigue. First off, Iowa fans have been waiting for the BERT BOWL for years. I’ve been waiting for it since Bret Bielema blocked me on Twitter (come home, Bert). Watching Iowa and Arkansas play an old fashioned beat em up game of football would be fun. There’s also some intrigue with the prospect of playing Kentucky, as it would pair Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops against his alma mater. Playing Wazzu in the Foster Farms bowl seems less than pleasant, as the thought of Mike Leach going air raid on Iowa gives me pause.
Last year I rallied against the thought of Iowa playing in the Outback Bowl. After all, they’d been there as recently as 2014 and a year later they were playing in the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville. Naturally, I was wrong and Iowa went to Florida for the third time in 731 days. For that reason, I’m comfortable saying they won’t be going to the Outback Bowl in 2018.
Regardless of whether or not they win six games or nine, I’d at the very least venture to say that the Hawkeyes won’t be playing in Florida this season. Based on their schedule, I think a 7-5/8-4 prediction is reasonable. Wyoming is a difficult non-conference test and the Cy-Hawk game is never a gimme. Even if they sweep non-conference, Iowa will likely be the underdog in their trips to Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Nebraska. This is saying nothing of visits from Penn State and Ohio State. If the Hawkeyes did nothing else but win all their other games, they’d finish 7-5. If they won all their other games and managed to upset one of those teams (probably Nebraska lol) they’re sitting at 8-4.
For the dumbed down reason of only looking at the schedule, I’ve got the Hawkeyes playing Colorado in the Foster Farms Bowl in Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on December 27th, 2017.
What say you, Go Iowa Awesome readers? Where do you think the Hawkeyes will be spending their holidays?