Iowans are reaching the berserk stage as the date of the Rose Bowl, when the University of Iowa Hawkeyes take on the UCLA Bruins, rapidly approaches. Since Iowa doesn't often get the opportunity to play in the New Year's Day game, this is an event of some significance that is bringing out more of those midwesterners in exile. On Jan. 1, Charles Manatt, the former head of the Democratic National Committee, is bringing a group of Iowans to his Northwest Washington home to watch the gridiron battle on a rented giant screen.

Among the invited are Sen. Tom Harkin, from Iowa, of course, and former Iowa senators John Culver and Dick Clark as well as the state's Democratic congressmen. Lynn Cutler, DNC vice chairman, said she is asking only Iowa Democrats. These normally proper political types will be sitting around Manatt's house in University of Iowa hats and other football fan paraphernalia. Cutler said that Manatt, who lived near UCLA for a number of years, may have some divided loyalties. But "mine are totally undivided," she added. Call for Civil Rights Reunion

For all those dedicated people who followed the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. through the 1950s and 1960s and the cities such as Selma, Birmingham and Montgomery that will forever be remembered in the history of the civil rights struggle, the establishment of King's birthday as a national holiday is an event of profound significance. To commemorate that date, the Rev. Bernard Lee, a former special assistant to King, is attempting to locate all the King followers in this area who participated in any of those marches for a Jan. 20 reunion in Atlanta that's expected to involve such people as Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, Coretta Scott King and D.C. Del. Walter Fauntroy.

Lee, who was with King in his heyday and is now in Mayor Marion Barry's Office of Religious Affairs, says no details about the reunion are settled yet, even though it is less than a month away. But it is well remembered that the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was considered one of the most disorganized but effective of the civil rights groups. So it just might come off on Jan. 20, as predicted. Many of the newsmen who covered the movement may also want to become involved, and undoubtedly, as in the civil rights days, will sit around grumbling about how nothing in the movement ever runs on schedule. End Notes

The Nation magazine has been sold for an undisclosed sum. It was owned by editor Victor Navasky, publisher Hamilton Fish and about 50 smaller investors, but is now owned by Navasky, Fish and Connecticut millionaire Arthur Carter, who bought out the 50 investors . . .

On this, the most family-oriented of American holidays, four Washington hotels -- the Bristol, the Watergate, the Capital Hilton and the Washington Hilton -- are playing host to a number of military families being flown in from across the country by the USO so they can be with servicemen and servicewomen who are stationed here and can't get away for the holiday. In some cases the families, from as far away as California, Texas and Georgia, will be staying free through Jan. 1. The Hiltons are adding one other element: a Christmas Day video-teleconference family visit so Washington area military personnel can talk with their families at Hilton hotels in New York, Pittsburgh, Chicago and San Francisco . . .

For anyone who has seen "Out of Africa" and wondered why Robert Redford, playing an Englishman, didn't attempt an English accent, British actress Jane Seymour said Redford tested his English accent on her and she found it decent. The film's director Sydney Pollack, however, told Redford to keep his distinctive American accent because, he said, "we were concerned that audiences might be thrown by Bob as an Englishman" . . .

Happy Christmas to all . . .