What bowls are possible for Iowa Football in 2022?

Iowa Hawkeyes defensive lineman Deontae Craig (45) and Jonathan Boone hold on as they ride the tilt-a-whirl at Citrus Bowl Kids Day on Thursday, December 30, 2021 at Fun Spot in Orlando, Fla. (Geoff Stellfox /The Gazette)

With the final game of the regular season in Iowa over and no trip to Indianapolis scheduled for 2022, Iowa football fans can look forward to the Hawkeyes’ bowl opportunities.

Next Sunday’s College Football Playoff selection will be the first domino to fall in the bowl selection process, followed by the other New Year’s Six Bowls.

Unranked Iowa obviously won’t be considered for any of the New Year’s Six Bowls, but whether Penn State deserves a New Year’s Six spot could have a chain reaction that eventually impacts Iowa.

Bowl selection is not necessarily in order of conference standings, but rather in order of how attractive teams are for bowls.

Teams with a history of well-travelled fanbases like Iowa could potentially jump up the bowl pecking order. Bowls may also have more interest in teams they have not hosted in recent history.

Here’s a breakdown of the shells that could potentially be within reach for the Hawkeyes. These are ranked by prestige, not Iowa’s likelihood of going there:

ReliaQuest Bowl

Conference Affiliations: Big Ten vs. SEC

Location: Tampa, Fla.

Date: January 2nd

Probability that Iowa will play there: Unlikely

Before Iowa’s loss to Nebraska, many bowl forecasters predicted that Iowa would go to the ReliaQuest Bowl, formerly known as the Outback Bowl.

It would have made sense for Iowa to return to Tampa if it was going to win against Nebraska. The last four times Iowa has played there, it was after an 8-4 season. However, an Iowa team that has lost five times has never gone to the Outback Bowl.

The Hawkeyes’ frequent previous trips to Tampa might not help Iowa’s chances. If Iowa 8-4 overtakes Illinois and Minnesota in the bowl pecking order to go to Tampa, it would be the Hawkeyes’ seventh time playing in the bowl.

Music City Bowl

Conference Affiliations: Big Ten vs. SEC

Location: Nashville, Tennessee.

Date: Dec 31

Probability that Iowa will play there: Most likely

The Music City Bowl would be one of the most logical destinations for the Hawkeyes in 2022.

Assuming Penn State goes to a New Year’s Six Bowl, Iowa would have to be more enticing than Illinois or Minnesota to go to Nashville. If Penn State doesn’t go to a New Year’s Six Bowl, Iowa would have to be ahead of Illinois and Minnesota.

It would be Iowa’s first trip to the Music City Bowl. Iowa was scheduled to play there in 2020, but COVID-19 issues in Missouri’s program led to the game’s cancellation.

Minnesota has not been there since 2005. Illinois has never been there.

Bowl projections placing Iowa in Nashville include CBS Sports, Athlon Sports and USA Today. Possible opponents are Ole Miss and South Carolina.

Pinstripe Bowl

Conference Affiliations: Big Ten versus ACC

Location: New York, NY

Date: December 29th

Probability that Iowa will play there: Probably

The Pinstripe Bowl is an increasingly popular choice among bowl forecasters.

ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura and Mark Schlabach plan for Iowa to return to the Pinstripe Bowl and play Pittsburgh. Action Network’s Brett McMurphy has also predicted an Iowa-Pittsburgh duel.

If bowl committees would rather take 8-4 teams from Illinois and Minnesota than a 7-5 team from Iowa, that would be a logical spot for the Hawkeyes.

The biggest downside to Iowa is having played there. Iowa visited the Bronx in 2017, while Minnesota and Illinois are yet to attend.

Duke’s Mayo Bowl

Conference Affiliations: Big Ten versus ACC

Location: Charlotte, NC

Date: Dec 30

Probability that Iowa will play there: Probably

The Duke’s Mayo Bowl is the least prestigious of all likely bowl destinations in Iowa.

The odds of Iowa making an appearance in this bowl increase if Penn State doesn’t make any of the New Year’s six spots. Otherwise, Wisconsin or Maryland would have to skip the Hawkeyes.

Bowl predictions leading Iowa to Charlotte include 247Sports and Yahoo Sports. Both expect Iowa to play NC State.

The most interesting part of this bowl might be what happens after. The victorious trainer is showered with mayonnaise. Want to see Kirk Ferentz get dumped with a cooler full of mayo? This game is for you.

Guaranteed rate bowl

Conference Affiliations: Big Ten versus Big 12

Location: Phoenix, Ariz.

Date: December 27th

Probability that Iowa will play there: Doubtful

A lot would have to go wrong on Sunday for the Hawkeyes to have to accept an invitation to the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.

Maryland, also 7-5, and/or 6-6 Wisconsin would have to jump ahead of the Hawkeyes.

Maryland’s average home attendance was just 31,934, and Wisconsin is in the midst of a managerial change that could result in player departures through the transfer portal.

Other bowls associated with Big Ten

  • The Rose Bowl and other New Year’s Six Bowls are well out of reach for the 7-5 Hawkeyes.
  • Another trip to the Citrus Bowl was already unlikely for the Hawkeyes. The loss to Nebraska made the slim chances even smaller.
  • The Quick Lane Bowl is extremely unlikely. Penn State would have to miss a New Year’s Six Bowl, and every Big Ten team eligible for the bowl would have to be picked ahead of the Hawkeyes, including Maryland and Wisconsin.

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