Iowa Football Bowl Game: Four Possible Destinations Await Hawkeyes
It was all in front of the Iowa Hawkeyes last weekend. Beat Nebraska and you're off to the Big Ten Championship game, and then likely to Orlando for a game on January 2. The Cornhuskers had other ideas.
The 2022 Iowa football season will be remembered as what could've been. If Iowa's offense had been, even adequate in more games, could this have been a 10-win season? Absolutely. Nebraska, Iowa State, and Illinois were all winnable games with Iowa losing those three by a combined 13 points. The fact that Iowa lost to Nebraska and Iowa State, who finished 8-16 combined, at Kinnick Stadium only adds to the frustration.
Iowa's offensive line struggled mightily throughout the season. They weren't alone on the offensive side of the ball where Iowa was 2nd worst in the FBS at 255.4 yards per game this season. The Hawkeyes had only 169 first downs. That too was the second worst in the FBS.
However, if the Iowa defense hadn't been among the best in the nation, how bad could this season have been? The Hawkeyes' defense finished #1 in the nation in yards allowed per play, at 4.10. They were 5th in the country in total yards allowed (3,335) and yards per game (277.9). Iowa's defense was on the field for a total of 814 plays. No other defense in the top 9 was on the field for any more than 743 plays.
Where will the Iowa team that features a stout defense and a struggling offense end up for bowl season? There appear to be four possibilities.
Despite Iowa finishing 7-5, 247 Sports believes the Hawkeyes could still land in the ReliaQuest Bowl (former Outback Bowl) in Tampa, Florida on Monday, January 2 (11 a.m. on ESPN2). Ole Miss, 8-4, is who they forecast Iowa would meet. Iowa has never played Mississippi in a bowl game. This bowl has to be considered a long shot for Iowa.
CBS Sports is among those forecasting Iowa to head to the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee on Saturday, December 31 (11 a.m. on ESPN). Both Ole Miss and Missouri (6-6) are mentioned by separate outlets as possible opponents. Iowa was scheduled to meet Missouri in the 2020 Music City Bowl before COVID issues in the Missouri program forced the game's cancellation. Iowa defeated Missouri 27-24 in the 2010 Insight Bowl in the two programs' only meeting in a bowl game.
Yahoo Sports predicts Iowa will play in the Duke's Mayo Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina on Friday, December 30 (11 a.m. on ESPN) to take on North Carolina State (8-4). The Wolfpack beat Iowa 28-23 in the 1988 Peach Bowl, the only time the two have met in a bowl game.
Action Network and ESPN both pick Iowa to head to Bronx, New York to play in the Pinstripe Bowl on Thursday, December 29 (1 p.m. on ESPN). They both believe Iowa will play Pittsburgh (8-4). The two have never met in a bowl game.
Bowl destinations will become official this Sunday afternoon, December 4. Until then, here's a look back at some of the most memorable moments of the 2022 Iowa football season: