Iowa Bowl Projection

A lot of factors go into bowl match-ups. They become even more tricky when you get past the top tier events. HI Publisher Rob Howe lays out a scenario that could name things really interesting in the Hawkeye State.

Iowa CITY, Iowa - Kirk Ferentz often says that there's no such thing as a bad bowl game. When you play in the Big Ten, that's mostly true.

Outside of the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl in Detroit two days after Christmas, the conference postseason partnerships run deep with desirable winter locations like Florida, Texas, Arizona and California.

It looks like at worst the Hawkeyes will land in Texas for a game played around the new year. At best, they touch down in Arizona at about the same time.

After an uninspiring regular season, Iowa can end on a high note for a second year in a row. Last year's Insight Bowl victory against double-digit win Missouri makes a lot of people forget about a disappointing 2010.

In projecting where teams will bowl at this point, we have to make assumptions. Those factors can result in a lot of incorrect guesses like the Gator last year and the Fiesta in '09.

That's a reminder that these prognostications are what they are - educated guesses. You shouldn't make travel plans just yet.

Right now, it appears most media types are calling for the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas for Iowa. That comes after a loss at Nebraska on Friday and the head of the Gator Bowl saying it would like to have 6-6 Ohio State play Florida instead of 7-5 Iowa as the Big Ten representative.

Let's back up a bit and get the top tier bowls out of the way first, though. The Big Ten sits in a great spot to push two teams into BCS Bowl games. Odds are that the duo comes from the group of Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin. The one left out is probably going to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando.

That brings us to the Outback Bowl in Tampa. You can expect that event's representatives to be drooling all over themselves when Nebraska falls to them.

Here's where things get tricky.

The Insight steps in with the next selection among Big Ten partner events. It can pick any bowl-eligible conference team, regardless of record, ranking or head-to-head outcome between the schools. In other words, the board will select the team it feels will make it the most money.

Penn State is the most deserving of the squads based on perfromance. However, the sexual-abuse-against-children case that cost Coach Joe Paterno his job is a lingering issue that could affect the Nittany Lions postseason destination.

While the current players appear clear of any wrongdoing in the scandal, they very well could become collateral damage from it. Members of the current coaching staff are connected to Paterno and Jerry Sandusky (the accused abuser), including Joe's son, Jay.

If you believe that going to a bowl game will exclude interim head coach Tom Bradley, who worked under Paterno and Sandusky, his coaches and players from answering questions about the abuse case, you're naive. Bowl reps aren't blind.

Those people consider their sponsors, first and foremost. If you're putting up big bucks to get your name on a bowl game, do you want it associated with Sandusky?

Here's an example of something you might find in a newspaper or on-line story about the game: Penn State will be playing in it's first Insight Bowl. The school fired legendary coach Joe Paterno after a grand jury indicted his former defensive coordinator for allegedly sodomizing young boys. Then, there are TV and sports talk radio in those towns.

There's a very good chance that Insight, Meineke, Ticket City and Tax Slayer step up and voice their desire to be distanced from the Lions. Heck, maybe Little Caesar's finds it can't stomach the association with Penn State.

The Insight Bowl, in particular, could use to stay away from controversy. Overseen by the Fiesta Bowl, top administrator John Junker was fired after last year's game for alleged improper political campaign contributions .

I think the Insight passes on Penn State with teams like Ohio State and Iowa sitting there for the taking. Even if it took the Hawkeyes for a second year in a row, that has to be preferred to selecting a program connected to raping children.

And keep in mind, even though Ohio State is 6-6, it's still a college football blue blood. If reports are accurate that Urban Meyer is taking the reigns in Columbus, the Buckeyes become even more attractive for a bowl committee.

Penn State will fall below Ohio State and Iowa. The Hawkeyes travel well and offer a star player in Marvin McNutt.

The Insight picks third among the Big 12 teams. If Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State, you could see both of them in the BCS. Texas and Baylor probably would come off the board next to the Cotton and Alamo.

That would leave Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State and Texas A&M for the Insight. Popular opinion seems to be that the Tigers and Aggies will drop because of their decision toleave the Big 12 for the SEC after the season.

Iowa State and Kansas State finish up the regular season against each other next weekend. Perhaps that decides who the Insight selects.

Remember, in addition to looking for the most attractive teams from each conference, intrigue in a match-up also could be a deciding factor. Sometimes these events play it safe with teams with whom they've had success with in the past.

Iowa ('10) and Iowa State ('09) have played in the Insight Bowl with good fan response. They fought through a triple overtime affair in September with the Cyclones winning, 44-41.

Iowa snow birds and transplants are well represented in Arizona. The Insight could do a lot worse that pairing Iowa State and the Hawkeyes in a warm locale.

A road block to a rematch could come if the Cyclones lose to Kansas State. The Wildcats would finish the regular season 10-2 overall and 7-2 in the league, while Iowa State would be 6-6, 3-6.

Kansas State is favored by 12 points against the Cyclones. Iowa State is relishing the underdog role this season, however.

You might say that Iowa and Iowa State doesn't do it for TV ratings. In a lot of cases, you'd be right. But remember. the Insight has the night to itself on Dec. 30. This one is more about fannies in the seats.

So, there you go. It's Iowa-Iowa State in Arizona. Book it.

Well, don't book it. Remember, it's an educated guess. I reserve my right to change my prediction…at anytime.

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