Holiday Bowl hopes for Hawkeye football

Iowa’s bowl destination has yet to be announced, but one thing is certain – the Hawkeyes will play in somewhere warmer than New York in December.


Ben Allan Smith

Iowa's Amani Hooker (27) and Matt Hankins (8) sack Boston College quarter back Darius Wade (4) during the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York on Wednesday, Dec. 27. The Hawkeyes went on to win 27-20.

Adam Hensley, Pregame Editor

After an 8-4 finish to 2018, Iowa football can expect a warmer bowl game than last year’s finale on the tundra of New York City, where the Hawkeyes took down Boston College in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

This season, Kirk Ferentz and Company have visions of a warm vacation in their minds, but the question remains: Which bowl game will Iowa go to?

Bowl representatives from the Holiday (San Diego), Outback (Tampa), and Citrus (Orlando) Bowls made the trip to Kinnick to watch Iowa’s 31-28 win over Nebraska on Black Friday.

None of the players had their minds on a bowl game after Miguel Recinos’ game-winning kick sailed through the uprights, and rightfully so.

“That’s a little soon right now,” defensive end Anthony Nelson said. “I’m just really happy — these seniors, that’s all I’m thinking about … we’ve got a special group.”

But now, with bowl games being announced on Dec. 1, Iowa plays the waiting game — a waiting game that might include a warm winter break.

After the game, Ferentz was asked about going to somewhere slightly warmer than New York in December.

“I have no idea. I know it will be warmer than last year,” he said. “Make a prediction, go out on a limb. We had a great experience last year. I’m not minimizing that at all. It was a great experience. We’re looking forward to wherever they want to send us.”

Ferentz is right; the program expressed its gratitude for playing in the Pinstripe Bowl and aside from taking home a trophy, the players got unique experiences such as going to the Stock Exchange and the 9/11 Memorial.

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But in December, a coastal game in the Sunshine or Golden State would make everyone happy, including the fans (which the university does take into account last year there was concern at the beginning with ticket sales starting off sluggishly for the Pinstripe Bowl). Hawkeye Nation travels relatively well for bowl games, maybe not so much for games played in sub-freezing temperatures, though. But as far as Iowa’s résumé goes, the Holiday, Outback, and Citrus Bowl remain the top options.

ESPN’s latest bowl projections have Iowa facing either Oregon or Utah in the Holiday Bowl, and that might be the most logical destination. Throw in Stanford for another team in the mix, but the majority of outlets have predicted the Black and Gold to play on Dec. 31 in San Diego.

Bleacher Report and USA Today had Iowa in the Holiday Bowl, too, and, for what it’s worth, on Tuesday, Ferentz appeared on 973 The Fan (A San Diego radio station dedicated to sports).

The Hawkeyes haven’t appeared in a Holiday Bowl since 1991. In the history of the bowl, Iowa has played in three games, winning two.

It would be a nice change of pace. Iowa went to the Outback Bowl in 2017, and, including that game, the Hawkeyes have made five appearances since 2004.

Iowa hasn’t been to a Citrus Bowl in the past 10 years, but the bowl is higher in the pecking order as far as team selection goes. Northwestern, the winner of the Big Ten West, would likely be higher on the committee’s list.

Nothing is set in stone, but the Holiday Bowl appears to be (at this time) the most logical choice for Iowa football. We’ll find out for sure in less than a week.

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