This is what's stupid about college football: Iowa beat Penn State on the road (21-10). Iowa gave Ohio State a much better game in losing on the road (27-24 in OT) than Penn State did in losing at home (24-7). Both teams have two losses, with Iowa's other one coming to Northwestern after its starting quarterback got hurt.
Despite all these facts, Penn State is ranked ahead of Iowa in both The Associated Press poll (12th vs. 14th) and USA Today coaches poll (13th vs. 15th).
Any voter who put the Nittany Lions ahead of the Hawkeyes is totally clueless.
At least the computers got it right. The Hawkeyes have an average ranking of 12 in the six BCS computers, while the Lions' average is 21. The discrepancy is big enough that Iowa is ahead of Penn State in the BCS standings (13th vs. 14th).
Remaining No. 14 or better is vital for PSU because only the top 14 can be considered for an at-large bid to a BCS bowl game.
Regardless of every advantage Iowa has over Penn State, when it comes time for the Fiesta Bowl to pick an at-large team, count on the Lions to be selected instead of the Hawkeyes' as the Big Ten's second BCS bowl representative.
Bowl games don't care about head-to-head scores or tiebreaker scenarios or hurting teams' feelings.
Bowl games care about money.
And big traveling fan bases.
And TV ratings.
And advertising dollars.
Penn State, hands down, is a much more attractive choice in all respects than Iowa, and the Fiesta Bowl knows it.
The Sugar Bowl will get the first pick among at-large teams and will select either Florida or Alabama, whichever one loses the SEC title game.
The Fiesta Bowl will pick next. It has a tie-in with the Big 12, but Texas will be off the board if it wins its remaining easy games and advances to the BCS title game against the SEC champ.
The Fiesta Bowl can go one of two ways. It can select Oklahoma State to keep its tie-in with the Big 12, but that may not be an option if the No. 12 Cowboys lose their regular-season finale to Oklahoma and drop out of the BCS top 14.
The Fiesta would have its pick of the litter among the remaining at-large teams and/or Big East champion Cincinnati or Pitt. For all of the intangible reasons stated above, Penn State and Iowa would be the most lucrative choices for the Fiesta.
Iowa has a good fan base and would be more deserving than PSU, but we have to look at the bottom line.
The Lions have a huge national following.
And they have Joe Paterno.
Case closed. The Fiesta will choose Penn State over Iowa, rewarding the Lions with a BCS bowl bid while the Hawkeyes get disrespected and sent to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando.
It's not fair. But life never is.
All Penn State has to do is beat Michigan State this week, and it's off to Arizona for a Jan. 4 Fiesta.
Hopefully against Pitt, which remains a decent possibility if the Panthers can win the Big East.
n Is Joe Paterno serious? How can anyone in their right mind say something as ridiculous as this statement Saturday:
"I thought the special teams did well except for the two punts we mishandled," JoePa said. "I thought we did pretty well."
That performance was embarrassing. Two fumbled punts lost, a fumbled kickoff lost, another muffed punt on a play that Indiana was penalized and a missed 34-yard field goal.
Here's some insight into my world: If I criticize Paterno for saying something so absurd, I'm accused of being a Penn State hater by fans who believe the coach can do no wrong.
But earlier this year, when I wrote the Lions had a chance to go undefeated and play for the national title because of their weak schedule, I got criticized for being a PSU homer.
As I've mentioned before, I am neither a homer nor hater. It's my job to tell the truth, and the truth as it pertains to Saturday is JoePa must have been watching a different game than the rest of the world.
* Linebacker Navorro Bowman was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Sunday for his performance in PSU's 31-20 win over Indiana. Bowman returned an interception 73 yards for a key TD and led the Lions with 12 tackles.
* Penn State opened up as a 3-point favorite over Michigan State.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and email@example.com.