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Bowl picture will remain unclear

[ 44 ] November 29, 2010 |

Despite the fact that almost everyone is 99 percent certain the Big Ten will get two teams into BCS Bowls. …

And despite the fact that would automatically put the third 11-1 Big Ten team into the Capital One Bowl. …

It’s unlikely anything is going to be decided until Sunday when the Bowl Championship Series is revealed in prime time.

“I’m 99 percent sure they’ll want to hold all three of them,” BCS executive director Bill Hancock said of Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan State, all 11-1 and ranked in the Top 10. “Their opponents play, and it may change their rankings.”

The BCS has a noon conference call today to decide which teams can be “released” from BCS Bowl consideration and free to pursue a bowl bid.

The Big Ten’s automatic qualifier, in the event of a three-way tie for the conference title, goes to the team that finishes the highest in the final BCS standings. Right now, that’s Wisconsin.

There likely will be two or three BCS at-large bids as well, and it’s very likely either the Buckeyes or Spartans will be called on.

Whichever team doesn’t earn a BCS bid — the BCS can only take two teams from the same conference — will go to the Capital One Bowl, which owns the top non-BCS selection in the Big Ten.

Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes and the rest of the Big Ten, it’s a game of dominos, and the other tiles can’t fall until you know what is going to happen at the start.

The Outback Bowl has the next pick, and they have four 7-5 teams — Iowa, Penn State, Michigan, Northwestern — plus a 6-5 Illinois team, to choose from. All are eligible.

Mike Schulze, the director of communications and sponsorships for the Outback Bowl, said their weekly meeting was Monday night.

“It’s awfully likely we’re going to be choosing from a bunch of teams with the same overall record,” Schulze said. “We’ll look at all potential teams, and who might be able to match up with them.”

Iowa has been to the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., three times in the past six years. Penn State has gone just once (2007) in that time, and Michigan hasn’t been there since 2003.

“We’ve had teams in back-to-back years and had great success,” Schulze said. “Other times, it’s had a negative affect. Every year is a little bit different.

“If a team doesn’t come that often, it can be a bigger deal sometimes.”

Iowa, with a fan base that travels well, usually is an easy sell to any bowl. But the Hawkeyes have lost three in a row to end the season, including a season-ending defeat to Minnesota (3-9).

“Where is the mindset with the fans and the team plays more into it,” Schulz said. “It’s always more fun to have teams that are excited, and excited about being in your game, and who they are playing.”

After the Outback Bowl, the Big Ten picking order is Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, Fla.), Insight.com Bowl (Tempe, Ariz.), Texas Bowl (Houston, Texas), and Ticket City Bowl (Dallas, Texas).

If no Big Ten teams are released by the BCS today, the Hawkeyes’ destination won’t be known for certain until Sunday afternoon.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Ryan Suchomel: Reach Ryan Suchomel at 339-7368 or rsuchomel@press-citizen.com. View author profile.

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