Tiger Time

Iowa will go bowling for the ninth time in 10 years. The Hawkeyes will take on Missouri at the Insight Bowl on Dec. 28 in Tempe, AZ.

IOWA CITY, Ia. - Iowa returns to what's been its house of horrors. Instead of being in the sights of any angry opposing fan base, however, the Hawkeyes will be playing on a neutral field in the Insight Bowl.

The Tempe, AZ event announced on Sunday night that it had selected Iowa to face off against Missouri of the Big 12 on Dec. 28 at 9.m. central. The schools, which sit about 190 miles apart, last played in 1910 with the Tigers winning, 5-0. They were scheduled to play during the last decade, but Missouri backed out.

After Nebraska lost in Saturday's Big 12 Title game, Sunday's speculation centered around the Huskers playing future Big Ten opponent Iowa in the Insight. Then, late in the afternoon, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported that Missouri would be Iowa's opponent in the game.

Those folks who predicted an Iowa-Nebraska Insight matchup theorized that the committee chose Missouri as way for the Big 12 to stick it to the Huskers, who left the conference for the Big Ten. They'll start in their new league next year.

I admit that I was intrigued by the idea of Iowa-Nebraska in Tempe. Having thought more about it, I think I prefer Missouri being the Hawkeyes' opponent.

One hundred and 10 years is probably enough time between meetings with a school closer to Iowa City than any schools in the Big Ten outside of Wisconsin. The bad blood created when Missouri canceled the series in 2004 just adds to a strong story line.

I know. I know. Nebraska is anointed as the new Iowa rival with conference expansion. Big deal. It's not a rivalry yet. And we'll get to see that next year and going forward.

With the Big Ten likely going to a nine-game schedule by 2015 and Iowa State already on the schedule, the chances of Iowa and Missouri meeting in the foreseeable future is highly unlikely. It makes bragging rights for this game pretty darn important.

You have to think the Tigers go into this contest as the favorite. They're 10-2 and have won three games in a row. The Hawkeyes (7-5) limp in on a three-game slide.

The schools played one common opponent this season - Iowa State. The Tigers won 14-0 in Ames on Nov. 20. Hawks won 35-7 in Iowa City on Sept. 11.

Penn State (Outback) and Michigan (Gator), teams Iowa beat this season, were selected ahead of the Hawkeyes in the bowl pecking order. Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz and Athletics Director Gary Barta felt like it was a result of how poorly they finished the regular season.

It will be interesting to see how Iowa fans travel to the Insight just having played in Tucson against Arizona in September. But Iowa has been to six Florida bowls in the last eight years.

Unlike other bowls in play for Iowa, the Insight will not compete against another game on TV that night. ESPN will air the contest to a national cable audience.

Barta sensed that it could be the Insight for Iowa on Friday. He had been in discussions with that that event along with the Outback and Gator throughout the week.

The Insight coveted Iowa in 2007 and the Hawkeyes likely would have landed in that bowl had it not lost to Western Michigan in the regular-season finale. They finished 6-6 and the Insight was forced to take a 7-5 Minnesota.

Iowa is allotted 11,000 tickets for its fans. The seats are on the sideline from end zone to end zone. In other words, 50-yard line seats are available.


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