Holiday? Citrus? Hawkeyes Wait For Bowl Call

Iowa running back Mekhi Sargent (10) tries to get away from Mississippi State's C.J. Morgan in the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

John Bohnenkamp

Nine wins will get you a prime bowl selection.

Iowa's postseason landing spot will be determined on Sunday, and it's starting to look like it's either a California or a Florida trip.

Many of the final projections on Sunday morning had Iowa heading to the Holiday Bowl, with USC the likely opponent.

The path will be clearer by late morning.

Saturday's Big Ten championship game, with Ohio State rallying to defeat Wisconsin, means the Buckeyes are headed to the College Football Playoff, and the Badgers and Penn State to the New Year's Six games.

That leaves a variety of spots where the Hawkeyes might go, but there are a few places they can't.

They won't be going back to the Outback Bowl — Iowa defeated Mississippi State, 28-22, on Jan. 1, and the Hawkeyes have been to Tampa three times in the last six years.

Also, no trip to the Pinstripe Bowl — Iowa went in 2017, defeating Boston College, 27-20. A minimum of six different Big Ten schools can play there over an eight-year period, and the goal is to have a different Big Ten team every season.

The TaxSlayer Gator Bowl doesn't appear to an option — Iowa went in 2015, and no Big Ten school can play there more than once in six years. A Gator Bowl representative who visited Iowa late in the season indicated the game's organizers were still interested in the Hawkeyes since this is the last year of the agreement with the Big Ten, but it's hard to see that happening.

So that leaves Citrus, Holiday and Redbox as possible bowls.

Here's a breakdown of each game:


Date and place — Jan. 1, Orlando, Fla.

Opponent — SEC

Probability (1-10, with 10 being the highest) — 4. Iowa hasn't been to Orlando since the 2005 win over LSU on the last-second pass from Drew Tate to Warren Holloway. That was a game that featured the coaching matchup of Kirk Ferentz vs. Nick Saban. And you know what? This could be a repeat matchup if Alabama is the SEC opponent. The Citrus Bowl had a representative at Iowa's regular-season finale against Nebraska. But Sunday morning projections had Michigan going here. Still, anything is possible.

Likability for Iowa fans — 9. Come on, it's Florida in January. And yeah, it's like going to Tampa, which the Hawkeyes have done with the Outback Bowl. But again, it's Florida in January. Oh, and a chance to play the Crimson Tide, or maybe Auburn.


Date and place — Dec. 27, San Diego.

Opponent — Pac-12.

Probability — 9.5. The Holiday Bowl loves Iowa. Iowa loves the Holiday Bowl — the Hawkeyes haven't been since 1991 (ah, the 13-13 tie with BYU) and two of the biggest bowl wins for the program have come here (39-38 over San Diego State in 1986, and 20-19 over Wyoming in 1987). The problem is, the Holiday Bowl also loves Michigan and coach Jim Harbaugh, whose first college head coaching job was at San Diego and who played for the San Diego Chargers. The Citrus seems likely to pick the Wolverines, so it would appear the Hawkeyes are headed here.

Likability — 10. It's San Diego. Iowa hasn't been there in a long time. A chance at a Pac-12 matchup against USC, or maybe Arizona State or Washington.


Date and place — Dec. 30, Santa Clara, Calif.

Opponent — Pac-12.

Probability — 1. Reports out of central Illinois on Friday night indicated the Illini were heading here. Plus, it's hard to see the Hawkeyes slipping here if the Citrus or Holiday can grab them first.

Likability — 8. Iowa has never been to the game. It's played in the home of the San Francisco 49ers (oh, hi C.J. Beathard and George Kittle). Could be a fun trip.

The projections

A look at the bowl projections from other media outlets.

Jerry Palm, — Holiday, vs. USC (Updated Sunday)

Stewart Mandel, The Athletic — Holiday, vs. USC (Updated Sunday)

Brett McMurphy, Stadium — Holiday, vs. USC (Updated Sunday)

Kyle Bonagura, ESPN — Holiday, vs. USC (Updated Sunday)

Mark Schlabach, ESPN — Holiday, vs. USC (Updated Sunday)

Starting next season...

Some familiar names will stay in the Big Ten's bowl rotation — Rose, Citrus, Outback, RedBox, QuickLane, Pinstripe.

And there are some new trips. How about the Las Vegas Bowl? Or the Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix? Or the Belk Bowl in Charlotte?

The Music City Bowl in Nashville becomes a permanent Big Ten site, so you can count on Iowa being there at some point. One scenario being thrown about for this season was the Gator and Music City trading, and the Music City going for Indiana. That's not going to happen, it would appear.

Comments (2)
No. 1-1

I wouldn't mind a game against Alabama or Auburn.

1 Reply

John Bohnenkamp
John Bohnenkamp


Anything is possible at this point. I think Holiday is in play if Citrus doesn't take the Hawkeyes.