WILLIAMS: Analyzing Iowa State’s current bowl situation

Nov 24, 2018; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell talks to an official during their game with the Kansas State Wildcats at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, there are no certainties when it comes to bowl positioning with Championship Week still to play on this coming Saturday.

As for Iowa State, the Drake game really doesn’t matter. Conference standings, politics and traveling reputation are what will make or break where the Cyclones play in December.

Here is what we currently know:

Following Saturday’s 42-38 victory over Kansas State, the Cyclones tied West Virginia for third in the Big 12 standings. Technically, Iowa State placed third in the Big 12 as it has a tiebreaker over the Mountaineers. However, bowl games are not mandated to honor that when making a selection.

Below are the Big 12 bowl tie-ins, in order of which they will pick:

Camping World
Armed Forces

Best-case scenario for Iowa State

Iowa State needs two Big 12 teams to make it either into the College Football Playoff or the New Year’s Six to make it to the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.

The Longhorns are currently 14th in the College Football Playoff rankings while at No. 6, the Sooners have a puncher’s chance to make the Playoff following Michigan’s loss over the weekend. There’s a good chance that Georgia will lose to Alabama in the SEC title game this weekend. Essentially, the Playoff committee would be picking between Oklahoma and Ohio State, should all of the above occur (and assuming Oklahoma wins the Big 12).

If Oklahoma goes to the Playoff, then Texas will be in the Sugar Bowl as it is required to have a Big 12/SEC matchup in non CFP years.

Texas will be in the top 12 this week as four teams ranked ahead of them – Michigan, LSU, Washington State and West Virginia – all lost last weekend.

Best case for ISU in my mind: Texas beats Oklahoma or Oklahoma wins and gets into the playoff. That would all but lock two Big 12 teams into the New Year’s Six, which would leave the Alamo a decision between Iowa State and West Virginia. I don’t know anything for sure but am highly confident that the Cyclone Nation would get that nod.

Probable Alamo opponents: Washington State or Utah

Worst-case scenario for Iowa State

Texas loses, Oklahoma gets left out of the Playoff and the Longhorns are left out of the New Years Six.

Texas would go to San Antonio and Orlando’s Camping World Bowl chooses West Virginia over Iowa State (For what it’s worth, I do not think that would happen.).

That specific scenario would put Iowa State in the Texas Bowl (Houston) vs. an SEC opponent.

Orlando would be a solid trip for Cyclone fans to take in late December.

Probable Camping World Bowl opponents: NC State or Syracuse

Final analysis

I currently have Iowa State slotted in the Alamo Bowl.

I’m banking on Texas putting up at the very least a strong fight vs. Oklahoma, if not winning the game outright. Oklahoma is a 7.5-point favorite in the game.

If somehow the Longhorns drop out of the top 12, in theory they could still be selected for a New Year’s 6 game. It’s happened five times since the current system began and Texas has one of the largest brands in the sport.

As of now, I’m going Alamo, with Orlando as a strong possibility.

Through EB Sports Tours, Cyclone Fanatic will be hosting a bowl charter to wherever the destination is. Details here.