Iowa football: All signs point to Hawkeyes playing in the Holiday Bowl

The Iowa football team’s regular season has ended with an 8-4 record and attention is now turned to postseason. Which bowl makes the most sense for Iowa?

As it should, attention now turns to which bowl will the Iowa football team be invited to after finishing the regular season 8-4 with losses to Northwestern, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Purdue. Fortunately for the Hawkeyes, due to some late season stumbles by other teams and the Hawkeyes two-game winning streak, it appears that the Iowa football team will be making a slightly better bowl than the Redbox Bowl, which they were slotted for just two weeks ago.

With a wild finish to the regular season for the Big Ten, the Hawkeyes now have the fifth best record in the entire Big Ten. Technically, they are tied with Northwestern but they lose that tiebreaker because of their loss to Northwestern three weeks ago.

Not only did their strong finish help, but the fact that Iowa football fans are such good travelers, makes the Hawkeyes well-liked in the bowl committee circles.

Now before we jump into why the Holiday Bowl appears to be the front-runner, I want to quickly reiterate some of the general guidelines when determining bowls for teams. Below is an excerpt from our initial bowl projections.

The biggest factor is where each team falls in the College Football Playoff ranking followed closely by conference bowl ties. For example, the Big Ten Conference champion is automatically slotted for the Rose Bowl unless they are selected to play in the College Football Playoffs. When a Big Ten team makes the College Football Playoffs, it moves all other Big Ten teams up in the pecking order of bowls, including the Iowa football team.

Secondly, there are bowls with specific ties to the Big Ten. These bowls include the aforementioned Rose Bowl, the Citrus Bowl, the Outback Bowl, the Holiday Bowl, the TaxSlayer Bowl, the Pinstripe Bowl, the San Francisco Bowl, and the Quick Lane Bowl.

Third and finally, there is a soft agreement in place to not repeat bowls for teams. So for example, the Iowa football team was in the Pinstripe Bowl last year. That means, it’s a lot less likely for the Hawks to be in that bowl again this year. This also eliminates the TaxSlayer Bowl (which Iowa made after the 2014 season), and the Outback Bowl (which Iowa made after the 2016 season).

If you look at the list of bowl games available to Big Ten teams and slot based on record, here is what we get for the first five teams:

  1. Ohio State: CFP or Rose Bowl
  2. Michigan: Rose Bowl or New Years Day Bowl
  3. Penn State: Citrus Bowl
  4. Northwestern: Outback Bowl
  5. Iowa: Holiday Bowl

There is still a lot of things that can change from this Saturday’s game. If Northwestern pulls a shocking upset, then they will make the Rose Bowl. Will both Michigan and Ohio State then make a New Years Day Bowl considering they are both ranked in the top ten? Although both the scenario of Northwestern winning and three Big Ten teams making New Years Bowls is unlikely, it is possible and would actually help Iowa. The more teams in non-Big Ten standard bowls, the further the Hawkeyes move up the ladder in bowls.

It’s important to keep in mind that they are a myriad of other factors that also play into this including potential attendance (which Iowa football fans rock at), matchups, and general human factors that cause weird decisions. Also worth nothing is that Iowa is not completely out of the running for the Citrus or the Outback Bowls. In fact, both bowls had representatives at Iowa’s game against Northwestern.

That being said, it would take a few shocking developments within the College Football Playoff committees rankings and the bowl committees judgement to see Iowa playing in Florida this winter.

Likely, there will be a clamoring of Iowa football fans heading to San Diego to watch the Hawkeyes face off against a Pac-12 opponent in the Holiday Bowl.