Football teams from Iowa and Iowa State will learn their bowl destinations today, shortly after the field for College Football Playoffs and other New Year’s Six bowls have been announced.
That’s the waiting game the Hawkeyes and Cyclones have been playing, their fate settled by decisions involving other teams that have enjoyed even more success than Iowa and Iowa State have had this season.
"There’s a process in place, and we all wait to see how it plays out," Iowa director of athletics Gary Barta said.
Both the Big Ten and Big 12 have bowl set-ups designed to provide flexibility for both the bowls and participating teams, a change from past when a strict pecking order based on final standings led teams to back-to-back or frequent appearances in the same bowl game.
"It’s designed to be beneficial for the bowls, who like to welcome different teams and fans to their cities, and to give a chance for our teams and fans to experience different destinations," Barta said.
The number of Big Ten teams that land spots in New Year’s Six games — Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin are all possibilities — will impact where Iowa concludes its season.
The Hawkeyes, bowl eligible for the 16th time in 17 seasons, will likely take their 7-5 record to either the Music City Bowl in Nashville on Dec. 29 or the Pinstripe Bowl in New York City on Dec. 27, although the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 28 in San Diego and the Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, California, on Dec. 27 remain possibilities.
"We feel like we’re in a good position right now as we head into our discussions over the weekend. We have a number of good options to consider," Holiday Bowl executive director Mark Neville said, referencing the possibility of Michigan, Northwestern and Iowa being at the forefront of those discussions.
Iowa State will make its first bowl appearance since 2012, and the bowl placement of two Big 12 frontrunners the Cyclones defeated on their way to a 7-5 record, Oklahoma and TCU, will make a difference in where Matt Campbell’s team competes.
ISU’s most likely destinations are the Camping World Bowl in Orlando on Dec. 28 or the Liberty Bowl in Memphis on Dec. 30, the game Iowa State made its last bowl appearance in five years ago. The Cyclones are also on the radar of the Cactus Bowl in Phoenix, scheduled for Dec. 26.
Players have their own priorities.
"Warm, somewhere warm," Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell said.
Those sentiments were echoed by teammate Akrum Wadley, well aware the Pinstripe Bowl, played at Yankee Stadium, is less than a 30-minute commute to his hometown of Newark, New Jersey.
"I was joking with Ihmir (Smith-Marsette, an Iowa receiver from Newark) about that …," Wadley said. "After the game, we could go right to Jersey, but honestly, I’d rather go somewhere warm, though."