Iowa Bowl Picture: Outback, Alamo & Cap One

It was 'Separation Saturday' in the Big Ten. Penn State, Ohio State, Iowa and Northwestern all won impressively, while Michigan State & Minnesota were embarassed in blowout losses. All of this will impact the eventual 2008 Big Ten Bowl pecking order. HawkeyeNation.com takes a look at that picture, with some projections and details on HN.com Bowl Charter Package.

It was ‘Separation Saturday' in the Big Ten, as several teams made statements, while several teams revealed significant cracks in their bowl resume.

Here is a look at the final standings, sorted by conference record:

W L W L
PSU 11 1 - 7 1
OSU 10 2 - 7 1
MSU 9 3 - 6 2
IOWA 8 4 - 5 3
NW 9 3 - 5 3
WISC 7 5 - 3 5
MINN 7 5 - 3 5
ILL 5 7 - 3 5
PUR 4 8 - 2 6
MICH 3 9 - 2 6
IND 4 8 - 1 7

Now, a quick look at my penultimate Big Ten Power Rankings:

#1 Penn State. After Iowa knocked off the Nittany Lions, I said Penn State would win out and beat Michigan State by 17. The Spartans are simple not a great 9-3 football team, and their defense has been suspect all year. I felt Penn State would take away Ringer and that is good night for Michigan State. They did, and it was.

#2 Ohio State: The Buckeyes pasted Michigan on Saturday, which was the fifth straight win for the Buckeyes in this series, the longest in the 105 year history of the rivalry. Jim Tressell is now 7-1 against Michigan, and Rich Rodriguez has a long, long way back.

#3 IOWA: Honestly, I don't think there is much doubt about this. Folks that don't watch the team will argue that Michigan State and Northwestern are 9-3 and both of those teams beat Iowa. That is true, they did, but Iowa had five turnovers against Northwestern and had four shots to win it on first and goal from the eight, and Iowa had three turnovers against Michigan State on the road, two in the redzone, and was stopped short on 4th and 1 near the redzone. Iowa has won 5 of its last six games, its only loss coming at Illinois on game winning field goal from 45 yards by the Illini.

#4 Michigan State: The Spartans certainly had a nice rebound season and they have things going in the right direction. But they are not a complete team, as their defense is just above average and they are one-dimensional offensively. If they play Georgia in the Cap One Bowl, they will lose.

#5 Northwestern: It was just the fifth time in Wildcat history that the football team won nine or more games. A solid and gutty effort from a team that was besieged by injuries midway through the season. That loss at Indiana really, really stings now, because the Cats could have been two games up on Iowa in the bowl pecking order, and if the league gets just one team in the BCS, that would have given them the nod over the Hawkeyes. Now, that is not the case, and the Cats are going to suffer for it.

#6 Wisconsin: It's at this point of my rankings where we have a decent drop off. Wisconsin got to seven wins by beating FCS Cal Poly on Saturday. They needed that D1-AA team to miss three PAT's to do that, including one in overtime.

#7 Minnesota: Right where I picked them in the preseason, 7-5. They lost their last four games after starting 7-1. Losing 55-0 on Senior Day is tough to swallow; doing so in front of more Iowa fans than Minnesota fans in the final game at the Metrodome is priceless.

#8 Illinois: The Illini coaches wanted to win their sixth game and go to the Motor City Bowl, but the Illini players clearly didn't. They were lifeless and listless against Northwestern on Saturday. No extra bowl practices for a relatively young team, and no bowl period for a team that went to the Rose Bowl last year, although they were undeserving of that trip.

#9 Purdue: After watching Curtis Painter the past two weeks, one wonders how in the world this team finished 4-8. Goodbye, Joe Tiller. Goodbye, Purdue.

#10 Michigan: 3-9 is their record, the worst in the history of the program. Folks, if you think they are going to go to a bowl game next year, with a likely freshman starting at quarterback, you are more optimistic than I am. I also don't know if Coach Rodriguez could survive something like that.

#11 Indiana: Whatever QB Kellen Lewis did to be suspended from the program, the bigger mistake may have been allowing him back in the program. It's amazing how much difference James Hardy made to that football team being dangerous, to one that is the worst team in the league. Coach Bill Lynch is on thin ice.

BOWL PROJECTIONS

We still have the issue of whether or not there will be one or two Big Ten teams in the BCS. Oregon State beat Arizona on Saturday night on the final play of the game, so they are still alive for the Rose Bowl. They have a home game against instate rival Oregon next week. If they win it, they go to the Rose Bowl. That would likely mean two PAC-10 teams would go to the BCS, which means the Big Ten would have just one team, Penn State. If Oregon State loses next week, there will be two Big Ten teams.

Here are my latest projections based on years of analyzing Iowa's bowl stature, a 30 minute conversation with an Outback Bowl official this past week and listening to the audio from the Capital One Bowl rep who spoke with HawkeyeNation.com's Brian Finley at halftime of the Minnesota game, audio you can listen to on the website:

ONE BIG TEN TEAM IN BCS
Rose Bowl: Penn State vs Orgeon State
Cap One Bowl: Ohio State vs Georgia
Outback Bowl: Iowa vs LSU/South Carolina/Ole Miss
Alamo Bowl: Michigan State vs Nebraska
Champs Bowl: Northwestern vs Miami
Insight Bowl: Wisconsin vs Kansas
Motor City Bowl: Minnesota vs MAC Champion

I know that Michigan State is 9-3 and Iowa is 8-4. I know that Michigan State beat Iowa 16-13. But I also believe the Outback Bowl is not going to pass on a chance to take the Iowa Hawkeyes and their fans. Michigan's economy is very, very stressed right now, with the auto industry in dire straights. This is a factor that I believe the bowls are going to take into consideration. That, and even in a good economy year, Iowa's fans travel better than Michigan State's fans. Plus, the Spartans were destroyed by a team that Iowa beat two weeks ago. This isn't just some sweet Hawkeye breeze being blown down your shirt; I firmly believe this would be the case. Plus, the Outback has always been about fannies in the seats, and looking to bring in the fanbases that can best help them accomplish that objective. The Cap One has traditionally been a bowl that focuses on overall record, but their statements to ‘momentum' in the HN.com audio I mentioned should raise a few eyebrows…especially if the Big Ten gets two teams in the BCS.

TWO BIG TEN TEAMS IN BCS

ROSE: Penn State vs USC
BCS: Ohio State
Cap One: Iowa/MSU vs Georgia
Outback: Iowa/MSU vs LSU/South Carolina/Ole Miss
Alamo: Northwestern vs Nebraska
Champs: Wisconsin vs Miami
Insight: Minnesota vs Kansas
Motor City: None available

Prior to Saturday's outcomes, I would have wagered that the Cap One would have selected Michigan State over Iowa in the two Big Ten teams to the BCS scenario. Now, I am no longer certain about that.

Tonight in the Dome, the Cap One rep said things like:

-"We remember how many fans Iowa brought down here in 2004"
-"Iowa has a great deal of momentum going into the bowl game."
-"We are always excited when Iowa is in the mix for our selection."
-"The momentum Iowa has going for them here late in the season is awesome."

I didn't use the word awesome, the Cap One Bowl rep said that.

While I am not ready to say that they would take Iowa over Michigan State, I am certainly less certain they won't.

As I see it right now, Iowa's ‘worst case' bowl destination will be the Alamo Bowl. I use the term ‘worst case' as related to the pecking order, not what I think of the bowl.

Here is how I look at Iowa's bowl destinations this year, with me assigning a percentage to the three bowl games I think Iowa could go to. The higher percentage is my view on the most likely destination:

Alamo Bowl: 30%
Cap One Bowl: 10%
Outback Bowl: 60%

It's my feeling that Iowa will spend it's bowl season in Tampa, Florida. If it's the Alamo, how does Iowa vs Nebraska or Iowa vs Missouri sound? Pretty exciting, in my opinion.

One factor that will not be in the favor of Iowa fans is your ability to ‘get a jump' on your bowl planning, because we may not officially know where Iowa will be bowling until Sunday, December 7th, the day they announce the BCS Bowl teams. At the earliest, we are still likely looking at December 1st. Buying airfare after Thanksgiving means higher prices.

But we have a way for you to take the hassle out of planning for a bowl trip and receive ‘rock star' treatment:

HawkeyeNation.com is pleased and excited to announce our 2008-2009 Bowl Charter package to the 2009 Outback Bowl.

We have taken hundreds of fans on our five previous bowl charter flights and we are once again partnering with Premiere Sports Travel.

We will be staying at the Hyatt Regency in Downtown Tampa. Click Here to view the property.

NOTE: This will also be the team hotel for the Iowa football team! HN.com travelers stayed at this property for the 2006 Outback Bowl, a year when the SEC team stayed at this property. The Outback alternates every other year, and it's the Big Ten team's turn to stay at this hotel. So if you travel with us, you will be staying where the Hawkeyes are staying, a very, very nice perk.

In addition to that, the hotel is just four blocks away from where the Hawkeye Huddle will take place, and less than a mile away from the popular Channelside nightlife district and the Florida Aquarium. Also, a trolley can take you to Ybor City for the New Year's Eve parade, and you can catch a ride just four blocks from our hotel.

As always, you will fly chartered air to and from Tampa, bussed to and from the airport. Your luggage will be delivered to your room so you will not waste any or your hours in Tampa. You will be bussed to and from the game, provided a lanyard and souvenir.

Prices for land only patrons start at $495 per person, and prices for charter flight patrons start at $1,355 per person.

Finally, our HawkeyeNation.com charter prices have always been the best you can find for the services provided, and I am certain in the coming days when you learn of other charter flight prices, you will see that you are saving hundreds of dollars by flying with us.

To view our trips, the costs and details, Click Here

You can place a deposit to reserve your trip. In the event Iowa would be selected for either the Cap One or the Alamo Bowls, your seat is still reserved on our plane, or if you are a land only patron, your room will be reserved wherever the Hawkeyes go. Or, you have the option of canceling your order.

Be sure to act soon, as these trips are always very popular and space is limited.


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