Hawkeyes in Thick of BCS Conversation

Hawkeye Insider takes a look at Iowa's bowl possibilities after the latest BCS Standings were released on Sunday night.

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Saturday was not a total loss for Iowa. By falling 27-24 in overtime here against Ohio State and some other happenings nationally, the Hawkeyes stepped deeper into the discussion for a BCS bowl.

While the Buckeyes sewed up at least a share of the Big Ten title and the automatic Rose Bowl berth by virtue of tiebreakers, many prognosticators around the country tab Iowa for the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, AZ. Iowa's last trip to a BCS contest occurred after the 2002 season, when as conference co-champions, it played in the Orange Bowl against USC.

The Trojans might have done Iowa (9-2) a favor on Saturday by getting stomped at home by Stanford. Southern Cal was positioned for an at-large BCS bid but it's third loss spelled the end of its campaign. The Cardinal hired former Athletics Director Bob Bowlsby in ‘06 after 15 years at the helm of the Hawkeyes.

Iowa will qualify for a BCS at-large bid if it finishes in the Top 14 of the final standings. It sits at No. 13 this week, dropping three spots from last week. It must defeat visiting Minnesota (6-5 overall, 3-4 Big Ten) in next week's regular-season finale or its quest will end.

The Hawkeyes' history of traveling well to the postseason gives them a leg up on much of the competition ahead of it in the current BCS Standings. Iowa ending its season before Thanksgiving also might help it gain ground on the charts as other teams knock heads. Of course, that also could go the other way if the wrong.

Ten teams make the BCS bowls (BCS rules. The top two rated schools at the end of the regular season play for the championship. The champions of the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and Southeastern Conferences will have automatic berths in one of the participating bowls.

Ohio State is in the Rose Bowl. The rest will be determined.

Iowa faces competition within its own conference for the BCS bid. Despite owning road wins against Penn State (No. 11) and Wisconsin (No. 14), those teams sit ahead of the Hawkeyes (No. 15) in the Coaches Poll , a component of the BCS rating system. Only two teams from a given league can make their way into the BCS.

In the Harris Interactive Poll , Penn State comes in at No. 12 this week with Iowa two spots back and Wisconsin at No. 15. It's another indication that human voters probably won't give the Hawkeyes much of bump, if any, should they beat Minnesota.

The Nittany Lions (9-2, No. 14 BCS) finish up next week at Michigan State. The Badgers (8-2, No. 16 BCS) travel to Northwestern on Saturday and conclude the regular season at Hawaii on Dec. 5. That long trip to the islands could make bowl suitors question whether they will bring a big group of fans to their postseason location.

Penn State is the real threat in conference for the Hawkeyes if both teams finish at 10-2. The Lions boast coaching legend Joe Paterno, travel well, and are a bigger name than the Hawkeyes on the college football landscape.

Iowa fans also should keep an eye on the Big 12. It's a one-bid league if Texas wins out, which would include the conference championship game. If someone upsets Texas in the title contest, that school would earn the league's automatic berth and Texas likely would be an at-large selection.

-Keep an eye on Oklahoma State in the big 12 as well. If the Cowboys win out, they're 10-2 and likely in the BCS Top 14.

The PAC-10 looks like a conference worthy of only one BCS bid, but it's not a done deal. Hawkeye followers want to pull for Oregon to win out. It also would help for Stanford to trip up.

Two Big East teams in the Top 10 of the BCS Standings, but taking Pittsburgh or Cincinnati ahead of the Hawkeyes seems like a long shot. The team that doesn't gain the league's automatic berth wouldn't be able to offer the travel party of Iowa.

Only one team is likely to advance from the ACC. Georgia Tech (10-1) is the favorite to be the rep. If the Yellow Jackets get knocked off in the conference title game, they're unlikely to get an at-large bid based on fan following.

The SEC will get two teams and be capped.

The BCS rules also state that only one contender from a non-BCS conference must be included in the bowl lineup. Right now, TCU and Boise State are in position to claim that spot. But it's possible both could be snapped up, especially if they‘re both unbeaten.

Alright, so you have the particulars. Here are some predictions:

National Title Game: Alabama vs. Texas

Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Oregon

Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Cincinnati

Fiesta Bowl: Penn State vs. Boise State

Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. TCU

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