Iowa football is trending toward a berth in the Outback or Citrus Bowl. Who are some potential opponents for the 16th ranked Hawkeyes?
With the cancellation of Iowa football’s final game against Michigan this Saturday, the Hawkeyes‘ regular season is officially over. Iowa closed out the season by winning their final six contests, placing them in second place in the Big Ten West and fourth place overall in the conference based on winning percentage.
The Hawkeyes’ current resume places them firmly in the discussion for playing in warmer weather in Florida on New Years’ Day.
Based on Iowa’s record (6-2) and Big Ten standing, it’s likely the Hawkeyes will receive a bid for either the Outback Bowl or Citrus Bowl. The Citrus Bowl will take place on Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, while the Outback Bowl will take place on Saturday, Jan. 2.
The Outback Bowl, which pits the SEC vs. the Big Ten, takes place in Tampa, FL, at Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Citrus Bowl is played annually in Orlando, FL, at Camping World Stadium, and also matches the SEC vs. the Big Ten.
From a monetary perspective, the Iowa program would much rather play in the Citrus Bowl. As of 2019, each team receives $8.55 million for being selected. It’s the largest payout for any non-College Football Playoff bowl game.
The Outback Bowl isn’t a bad consolation prize, though. As of 2017, the payout for each selected team is $3.5 million.
If the Hawkeyes were to be selected to the Outback Bowl, Iowa would take over first place for most appearances in the Tampa-based game. Currently tied with Michigan for most appearances (six), Iowa holds a 3-3 record in the Outback Bowl.
The Hawkeyes last appeared in the Outback Bowl during the 2018-19 season in a 27-22 victory over Mississippi State. All six appearances in the game have been with Kirk Ferentz as head coach.
As for the Citrus Bowl, Iowa won its only appearance back in 2005 against LSU when it was known as the Capital One Bowl. The 11th ranked Hawkeyes won 30-25 after a last-second Hail Mary throw from Drew Tate to Warren Holloway.
As far as potential opponents go for this season, the Hawkeyes would likely face a third or fourth-place team in the SEC, no matter which of the two Florida-based bowl games they’re selected to. Possible opponents include No. 7 Florida (8-2), No. 8 Georgia, Auburn (6-4), Missouri (5-4) and Ole Miss (4-4).
Overall, the Hawkeyes have won their past three bowl games after losing five straight from 2011-2016. Iowa has an all-time bowl record of 17-15-1, while Kirk Ferentz’s bowl record is 9-8. This season will be Iowa’s eighth straight year with a bowl appearance.