This will be the first of several such items, taking a look at Iowa’s likely bowl destinations after the conclusion of the 2017 regular season.
Iowa will either finish 6-6, 7-5 or 8-4 at the end of the regular season. I am leaning towards 8-4 right now, with 7-5 being the low expectation. Despite the Ferentz-era worst 66 yards at Wisconsin this past week, I think the Hawkeyes will bounce back this week. They are favored at home against Purdue and Vegas already has the Hawkeyes as 6.5 point favorites at Nebraska, as one wonders if the Huskers have packed it in as they await the firing of head coach Mike Riley.
Here is how things look to me right now, with explanations to follow:
I think Ohio State and Wisconsin win out the rest of the regular season, and I think Ohio State beats Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. I also think Oklahoma will win out, and make it into the Final Four, along with Alabama and Clemson. That fourth spot is up for grabs and would go to a 13-0 Wisconsin, should they win out, and could possibly go to an 11-2 Ohio State.
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For now, let’s say the Big Ten gets shut out of the Final Four. I would have both Ohio State and Wisconsin in a New Year’s Six (NY6) bowl game. I think Michigan State and Penn State win out from here, along with Northwestern. I believe each of those teams will land in a bowl game higher in the pecking order than will the Hawkeyes, as those three teams beat Iowa aand would have a better record.
That didn’t always matter in the old bowl alignment, but the Big Ten does a good deal of matchmaking now.
I think Michigan loses their last two games (at Wisconsin, home vs Ohio State) along with Iowa winning out.
I believe the Big Ten would send Michigan to New York, and that would put Iowa in the Music City Bowl.
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Should the Big Ten get Ohio State in the playoff, there is a chance that three Big Ten teams could play in a NY6 bowl game, which could bump the Hawkeyes up to the Holiday. But as of right now, with a projected 8-4 finish for Iowa, or even if Iowa goes 7-5, I think we will see Iowa in Nashville.