With Halloween still a few days away it feels strange to be discussing possible bowl game destinations for Indiana.
But when IU knocked off Nebraska 38-31 on Saturday in Lincoln to earn their sixth win of the season, the Hoosiers became bowl eligible with four games remaining on the schedule.
The Hoosiers (6-2, 3-2) will be playing an extra game for the third time in the last five years. IU is 3-8 all-time in bowl games, with their last postseason win coming after the 1991 season.
Where might Indiana go this year?
Not including the College Football Playoff, there are ten possible destinations, nine of which require the inclusion of a Big Ten team.
As of this writing, all 14 Big Ten teams are still technically bowl eligible, but of course that will change as the remainder of the season plays out.
Let’s take a look at the bowl games aligned with Big Ten conference teams, and where the Hoosiers might end up.
Quick Lane Bowl vs. ACC (Detroit, Michigan, December 26, 2019)
This could be where the Hoosiers land if they don’t win another game, or perhaps if they only win one more. We hear Detroit is nice in late December.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl vs. ACC (New York, NY, December 27, 2019)
Indiana played in this one at Yankee Stadium after the 2015 season, coming up short against Duke.
A return trip is unlikely, as the Pinstripe Bowl is seeking eight different teams in eight years.
San Diego Country Credit Union Holiday Bowl vs. Pac-12 (San Diego, California, December 27, 2019)
This one looks like a good possibility right now if IU picks up another win or two.
The Holiday Bowl agreement is for five different teams in six years, meaning Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin will not be selected, if possible.
Indiana won the 1979 Holiday Bowl against Brigham Young University and celebrated the 40th anniversary of that game earlier this year.
Redbox Bowl vs. Pac-12 (Santa Clara, California, December, 30, 2019)
Indiana played here after the 2016 season, losing to Utah. Because of a similar arrangement to bring in unique teams, another appearance here is unlikely.
Capital One Orange Bowl (Miami, Florida, December 30, 2019)
This one might be the biggest long shot and would likely require winning out. Even that would almost certainly not be enough as there is no Big Ten requirement.
An ACC team goes to the Capital One Orange Bowl no matter what against the highest-ranked Big Ten or SEC team, or Notre Dame.
Rose Bowl vs. Pac-12 (Pasadena, California, January 1, 2020)
One can dream, right?
The Rose Bowl will take the Big Ten Champion if it is not participating in the College Football Playoff.
If the Big Ten Champion makes the playoff, the Rose Bowl will select a team based on a combination of factors such as ranking, division champions, and head-to-head play.
Indiana would probably have to win out to even have a chance to be considered for a return to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1967 season.
Citrus Bowl vs. ACC or SEC (Orlando, Florida, January 1, 2020)
As a New Year’s Day game, this one is another long shot for the Hoosiers. If IU finished 9-3 the Citrus Bowl could be a good possibility.
The Citrus Bowl also has an agreement to invite different teams.
The agreement for the Citrus Bowl is for five different teams in six years, so if possible Penn State, Minnesota or Michigan will not be selected.
Outback Bowl vs. SEC (Tampa, Florida, January 1, 2020)
Similar to the Citrus Bowl, this one might require a nine or at least an eight win season.
Also similar to the Citrus Bowl, the Outback Bowl has an agreement for five different teams in six years, so if possible Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan or Northwestern will not be selected.
Of the January 1 games, this one might be the most likely.
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl vs. SEC (Jacksonville, Florida, January 2, 2020), or
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl vs. SEC (Nashville, Tennessee, December 30, 2019)
The ACC and Big Ten have an agreement vis-a-vis the Gator Bowl and Music City Bowls
Each league is allocated three appearances in six years. The Big Ten played in the Gator Bowl in 2015 and the Music City Bowl in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Therefore the Gator Bowl is the likely option here for Big Ten affiliation. Iowa and Penn State are unlikely participants based on their effort to have unique teams.
IU could end up here with at least a couple more wins.
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl vs. Mountain West (Fort Worth, Texas, January 4, 2020)
The Big Ten’s agreement is for three SERVPRO First Responders and three Armed Forces bowls in six years.
The Big Ten hasn’t been in the Armed Force Bowl since 2014, and the Big 12 and Conference USA is contracted to play in the SERVPRO First Responders in 2019.
This one is another good possibility if IU does not do enough to reach one of the more high profile games.
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