Winning plays a role in college football’s convoluted bowl-selection process.
Well, sort of.
It’s not exactly scientific, but Iowa can enhance its status with victories in its final two games — Nov. 23 against Michigan and Nov. 29 at Nebraska — while having the right teams lose.
Take Minnesota, for instance. The Gophers are 8-2, but close out the regular season with games against Wisconsin and Michigan State, which have a combined record of 15-3.
Is there a chance the Hawkeyes (6-4) can leapfrog the Gophers, who they beat 23-7 on Sept. 28?
“Iowa is an attractive team, moreso than Minnesota,” said Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com. “But if Minnesota is 8-4 and Iowa is 6-6, then that’s really not going to matter much.
“(The Hawkeyes need) to get within a game of Minnesota just to have a chance of being selected ahead of them.”
Palm’s current projections have Iowa in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jan. 1 against Rice.
The Hawkeyes generally find themselves in a pool of second-tier candidates from the Big Ten Conference, along with Michigan, Nebraska and the Gophers.
Traditionally, Iowa boasts an impressive following in terms of travel and hotel bookings.
So do the Wolverines and Cornhuskers.
“Really, the funny thing is, you take a team like Iowa and you put them in the ACC, they’re probably the second- or third-biggest draw in the league,” Palm said. “In the Big Ten, they’re like in the middle of the pack, because you’ve got all these huge brands.”
The Bluebloods also bring eyeballs to the television.
“That’s part of it, but (bowl organizers) do want to have a crowded stadium,” Palm said. “All of those things are factors. It’s all something to be taken under consideration.
“It’ll just be tough for Iowa to compete with Michigan. But if Michigan ends up 6-6, where they’re just kind of sliding into this thing …”
That’s where the Hawkeyes have an opening.
First, the Wolverines (6-3) have a tricky date at Northwestern on Saturday. Then, they visit Kinnick Stadium, before hosting unbeaten Ohio State.
“If they thought Iowa would draw more, that could matter,” Palm said. “But if you’re only 6-6 … even a ho-hum year for Michigan, as good as Iowa draws, you’re still talking about Michigan.”
The same could be said for Nebraska, which stands at a tumultuous 7-2.
A string of narrow wins has done little to improve coach Bo Pelini’s approval rating, and nothing will come easy the next three weeks.
The Cornhuskers play Michigan State and Penn State, before Iowa arrives in Lincoln for the Black Friday regular-season finale.
It’s hard to say a team controls any sort of destiny, but the Hawkeyes can make people take notice.
“Both those games are winnable,” Palm said. “(The Hawkeyes) are not going to be favored maybe in either one, but they’re both winnable.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football