If Texas A&M's showing against the Longhorns is a negative one, the Cyclones could earn an invitation as early as this Sunday from the Tangerine Bowl. If not, they could be headed to the Motor City Bowl, which takes place Dec. 26 in Detroit, Michigan.
"It really boils down to this-- we were first on the list for the Tangerine Bowl until Saturday," said ISU athletic director Bruce Van De Velde, who spoke with Big 12 Commissioner Kevin Weiberg by phone Tuesday night. "With the result of the game, it dropped us back into the pack. It looks like their number one choice now is Texas Tech.
"But I don't think Texas Tech will be on the board when it's their time to pick. (The Houston Bowl) will take Texas Tech ahead of the Tangerine Bowl. Their second choice is either us or Texas A&M. The Tangerine Bowl still has interest in Iowa State, however it has gone from a very strong interest to not as strong. It really depends on the Texas A&M-Texas game and how it is played."
If A&M is able to make a good impression in Austin, Texas, Friday then ISU's most likely destinations are the Motor City or Las Vegas Bowls, which are not in the Big 12's bowl pecking order.
"The Motor City Bowl (scenario) happened because the Big 10 doesn't have enough winning teams to fill all their slots," Van De Velde said. "They're looking for an at-large team. The opponent would be Toledo if they win on Saturday.
"The Las Vegas Bowl only would come about if Wyoming defeats New Mexico. Then, the Mountain West will not have enough winning teams to fill their slots. Both the Motor City and Las Vegas Bowls would be looking for at-large teams. The Motor City Bowl is probably more likely than the Las Vegas Bowl, because it's for certain."
ISU could have some competition from the ACC and Wake Forest for a bid from the Motor City Bowl, however. Van De Velde believes that the Cyclones are still the favorite to play in the bowl game at brand new Ford Field.
"The ACC and Wake Forest are pushing very hard to get into the Motor City Bowl," Van De Velde said. "But I think the Motor City Bowl has Iowa State first on their list. They really want Iowa State to come. But we have to get passed over by the Tangerine Bowl first."
If Wyoming beats New Mexico and Dan McCarney's team gets a more serious look from the Las Vegas Bowl, 7-4 Arizona State and former ISU athletic director Gene Smith could be the opponent on Christmas Day.
Any of those three bowls could extend an invitation to the Cyclones as soon as Sunday or Monday, Van De Velde said.
It appears that the only bowl in the Big 12's pecking order still interested in ISU is the Tangerine. Oklahoma State is most likely headed to the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho. ISU fell out of the Alamo Bowl's picture with Saturday's loss to UConn, and Texas Tech has become the prohibitive favorite for the Houston Bowl.
That leaves the Big 12 bowl lineup potentially looking like this: Bowl Championship Series (Oklahoma); Cotton Bowl (Texas); Holiday Bowl (Kansas State); Alamo Bowl (Colorado); Independence Bowl (Nebraska); Houston Bowl (Texas Tech); Tangerine Bowl (Texas A&M or Iowa State); and Humanitarian Bowl (Oklahoma State).
Colorado's position in the Alamo Bowl could change with a few different scenarios, however. By beating Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game, the Buffaloes would earn a spot in the BCS.
Losses to Nebraska Friday and in Houston to the Sooners could drop them out of Alamo Bowl contention, however, and land Texas Tech in San Antonio. Had the Cyclones won last Saturday, Van De Velde said they could have made the Alamo Bowl under this scenario.
"That's probably where we would have had a great chance to go to the Alamo Bowl if we would have won," he said. "If Colorado loses to Nebraska and loses the Big 12 Championship, they are not going to go to the Alamo Bowl."
Van De Velde did say that he believed just one Big 12 team would end up in the BCS.
"The computer will decide how it crunches the numbers, but there are a number of teams near the top such as Iowa that are done playing," he said. "If Oklahoma lost the Big 12 Championship I don't know that they would get an at-large bid. You've got Notre Dame and Iowa out there as the two at-large bids. It's very remote that we would have two teams from the Big 12 in the BCS this year.
"The only two that could possibly go are Oklahoma and Colorado. Kansas State's also in there, but I don't think they'll factor in because of strength of schedule. Their schedule is 60th in the country and they have two I-AA wins. The computer is not going to get them high enough."