Where do the Huskers play in bowl season? Who wins the Big 10 championship to play the winner of the PAC12 championship?
Rose Bowl Jan. 2 Pasadena, Ca. 5 p.m. Big Ten No. 1 vs. Pac-12 No. 1
Wisconsin vs. Oregon
Why: Wisconsin has shown that they are unbeatable when they are firing on all cylinders. Their two losses on the season both came in last-second freak moments, and it seems like the Badgers will be too hot to handle for Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game. Oregon’s easy matchup with UCLA makes them a shoe-in for the Rose Bowl.
Sugar Bowl Jan. 3 New Orleans, La. 8:30 p.m. BCS At-Large vs. BCS At-Large
Michigan vs. Houston
Why: Michigan will be right on the border when it comes to a BCS at-large bid. Ultimately, Sugar Bowl representatives will have to decide between Boise State and Michigan, with an outside look at Arkansas. It’ll be hard to turn down the winningest program in Division 1 history. Which also boasts one of the largest fan bases in the country. Houston will lock up an automatic BCS bid, based on standings, after they beat up on Southern Mississippi in the CUSA title game.
Capital One Jan. 2 Orlando, Fla. 1 p.m. Big Ten No. 2 vs. SEC No. 2
Nebraska vs. Georgia
Why: Nebraska, while they won’t finish third in the Big Ten, offers a great fan base that travels well as well as a huge TV audience nationwide. Michigan State would be the fair choice in this slot, but nothing is fair when it comes to TV dollars, and the Huskers just offer more than the Spartans do. The SEC bid will be interesting to see, as this could go to Arkansas just as easily as Georgia. However, looking at fan bases and TV dollars again, Georgia is just a bit more appealing than the Razorbacks.
Outback Jan. 2 Tampa, Fla. 1 p.m. Big Ten No. 3 vs. SEC
Michigan State vs. Arkansas
Why: Consider this bowl the Capitol One version 2. Both teams are deserving of the Capitol One Bowl bid, but because their fan bases aren’t quite as desirable as Nebraska’s or Georgia’s, the two will get a demotion to Tampa. This may be the best bowl to watch when it’s all said and done, however.
Gator Jan. 2 Jacksonville, Fla. 1 p.m. Big Ten No. 4/5 vs. SEC No. 6
Ohio State vs. Auburn
Why: The Gator Bowl will score with two great fan bases in this game. While both teams are pretty down on their luck this season, the TV dollars will still be there. If you told Gator Bowl officials last year that they would be getting Ohio State and Auburn, they would call you a liar. This should be the most watched, and perhaps most competitive, Gator Bowl in years.
Insight Dec. 30 Tempe, Ariz. 10 p.m. Big 12 No. 4 vs. Big Ten No. 4/5
Texas vs. Penn State
Why: Continuing with the theme of TV dollars, the Insight Bowl can really score here with two legendary programs. Texas and Penn State, while both going through a rough stretch, still boast huge TV audiences. Texas has enough advantage over other Big 12 teams to jump over teams like Baylor that are ahead of them in the standings.
Meineke Car Care Dec. 31 Houston, Tex. Noon Big 12 No. 6 vs. Big Ten No. 6
Texas A&M vs. Iowa
Why: While neither team in this matchup are playing particularly impressive football, this could be a fair regional matchup. There isn’t really any bad blood between Texas A&M and Iowa, but with both teams in the Midwest, this could end up being a fun match to watch for the region.
TicketCity Jan. 2 Dallas, Tex. Noon Big Ten No. 7 vs. C-USA
Purdue vs. Marshall
Why: The TicketCity Bowl will end up being the first bowl with Big Ten ties to get a real flop of a game. Had it been one slot higher on the Big Ten rung, the TicketCity Bowl could’ve pulled a semi-strong TV viewership. All it can hope for is a good game between an up-and-down Purdue team and the Thundering Herd.
Little Caesars Dec. 27 Detroit, Mich. 4:30 p.m. MAC No. 2 vs. Big Ten No. 8
Northern Illinois vs. Northwestern
Why: The Little Caesars Bowl will have a cute matchup on its hands that may be able to dig into the Chicago TV market. While the matchup between two Illinois teams will bring in a good statewide audience, it has virtually no national appeal. Then again, how many matchups with a Big Ten No. 8 and a MAC team would?
By Chris Peters