Usually, the way the bowls are set up, you expect a 7-5 team to meet a team that, at least as far as its record is concerned, is fairly evenly matched.
However, this season, due to a bevvy of 7-5 Big Ten teams, the strength of the Big Ten's bowl tie-ins, as well as the weakness of the Big 12's tie-ins, the 7-5 Iowa Hawkeyes find themselves going up against the 10-2 Missouri Tigers.
Looking strictly at wins and losses, this is one of the more lopsided matchups in all bowl games this year. Furthermore, it is the most lopsided matchup in Big Ten-involved bowls.
Nevertheless, the Hawks' record is somewhat deceptive. That is not because they were a better team than their 7-5 indicates. No, I am firm believer in the saying, "You are your record."
Rather, because man-for-man, the Hawks could have been so much better, and did, at one time, have the potential to match the Tigers' 10 wins and maybe more.
The 2006 Hawkeyes came into their bowl in a somewhat similar situation. They lost the game, but came out with their heads held high, having won something of a moral victory.
I don't know if this team can have a moral victory. In fact, I don't even know if a win over a very good Missouri Tiger team will be enough to salvage this season.
Nevertheless, if the Hawks and their fans are to go into the offseason with any optimism, Iowa will need to show up in a big way.