Ten of the twelve Big Ten Conference teams will participate in a bowl game this year. Want to know how the games turn out, and get a recap of each team, and their opponents from the whole season? Check it out here.
Little Caesar Bowl
Western Michigan (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6)
Western Michigan finished the 2011 regular season above .500 and 3rd in the MAC Western Division. They finished the season ranked No 18 in the country in scoring offense averaging 35.6 points per game, and 8th in passing offense with a 328.8 yards a game average. Their loses came to Michigan, Illinois, Northern Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Toledo, and Miami OH. Their key victory came against Ball State in a 45-35 victory.
Purdue lived up to expectations. They finish the season bowl eligible and had a couple key wins. They beat Ohio State for the 2nd time in 4 years at home, and handed Illinois their first loss of the season. Purdue lost to Rice, Notre Dame, Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Their key win was the 26-23 overtime thriller against the Buckeyes.
Western Michigan 42, Purdue 21
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
San Francisco, CA.
Illinois (6-6) vs. UCLA (6-7)
Illinois was the hottest team at the start of the season. They started out 6-0 and looked to make a run at the Big 10 Leaders Division Championship. Then Conference play started and they lost 6 straight games, and fired their coach. Their losses came to Ohio State, Purdue, Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin, and a heart breaker at Minnesota. Their key win came over No. 22 Arizona State in the 3rd week of the season.
UCLA fired their coach, finished the season barely .500, and went to the first ever PAC 12 Championship Game? That’s right, thanks to USC’s post season ban for 2011, they got a crack at No. 9 Oregon, and kept it a lot closer than the “experts” expected. The Bruins were 33 point underdogs, and lost to the Ducks 49-31. UCLA lost to Houston, Texas, Stanford, Arizona, Utah, USC, and Oregon. Their key win of the season came over No. 19 Arizona State.
UCLA 35, Illinois 21
Iowa (7-5) Vs Oklahoma (9-3)
Iowa finished the season 4th in the Big Ten’s Legends division. Iowas losses came to Iowa State, Penn. State, Michigan State, and Nebraska. The Hawkeyes biggest win of the season came at home over No. 15 Michigan 24-16 on Nov. 5.
The Sooners started the season No. 1, and finish outside of the top 15, and come to Tempe after finishing 4th in the Big 12. They lost games to Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma State. Their key win of the season came at Kansas State with 58-17 win over the No.8 team in the country.
Oklahoma 35, Iowa 14
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
Texas A&M (6-6) Vs Northwestern (6-6)
Texas A&M started 2011 ranked No.8 and ended it barely bowl eligible, fired their head coach, and will join the SEC next season. Not the year Aggie faithful wanted. They come in to Bowl Season with losses to Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas State, and Texas. Their key win of the season came against No. 20 Baylor, and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III by the score of 55-28.
Northwestern had high hopes with a senior quarterback who showed a lot of potential. What they got was a lot of injuries, and a back up quarterback in Kain Colter that they can build the future of the program around. Kolter is the teams leading rusher and has spent some time at wide receiver and running back this season. The Wildcats have lost to Army, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Penn State, and Michigan State. Their key win came over No. 20 Nebraska in Lincoln.
Northwestern 31, Texas A&M 28
Ticket City Bowl
Houston (11-1) Vs. Penn State (9-3)
Houston was one win away from going to a BCS Bowl and crashing the already broken BCS party. They came up short in the Conference USA Championship game to Southern Miss. Their only win of note was over PAC 12 South Champion, and 6-6 UCLA.
Penn State has been through more this football season then probably any other team in the country. They are dealing with the loss of an icon in Joe Paterno, and dealing with it in a way that no one could have seen coming. They have seen scandal and an end of an era, on top of not knowing what hands the future of the program lie in. Penn State was 8-1 coming into the last 3 games of the season, and even after the Paterno firing, were still hopeful of a top 10 finish and a trip to the Rose Bowl. They lost two of the last three to Nebraska, and Wisconsin respectively. The first loss of the season came to No. 2 Alabama. Their key win was at Ohio State with their season ridding on the line. They trumped the Buckeyes 20-14.
Houston 31, Penn State 14
Michigan State (10-3) vs. Georgia (10-3)
Michigan State came into the 2011 season with a conference division for the first time in school history. They were picked to pick 2nd or 3rd by most publications after splitting the Big 10 title, and only loosing one game last season. With all the disrespect from around the nation, and a fifth year senior at quarterback Michigan State won the Legends Division, and played for the Big 10 Championship in Indianapolis, where they came up just short. The Spartans losses came to Nebraska, Notre Dame, and a last second field goal to Wisconsin in the Championship game. The Spartans key victory came over those same Badgers in East Lansing, when Wisconsin was ranked No.3 in the country.
Georgia started the season with a coach on the hot seat, and a lot of the fans calling for rebuilding the program. Head coach Mark Richt gave the Bulldog faithful reason to believe in him again. Georgia started the season out 0-2 with losses to two top 15 teams. They then went on to win 10 straight games, and finished the regular season 7-1 in the SEC and bought themselves a date with No. 1 LSU in the Conference Championship Game. Georgia finished the first half of that game with 10-7 lead. Then gave up 35 unanswered points to the No. 1 team in the land. It will be interesting to see if that let down carries over to the bowl game. Their losses came to Boise State, South Carolina, and LSU. Their key victory came at No.23 Georgia Tech 31-17.
Georgia 31, Michigan State 21
Capital One Bowl
Nebraska (9-3) vs. South Carolina (10-2)
Nebraska came into 2011 with a new conference, and considered by many to be the favorite to win it. They finished the season with 3 losses, two being blowouts, and an embarrassing loss at home to a 6-6 team.All three losses came in conference play. Nebraska’s defense was not as quality as most predicted. The good news is they started the year with a sophomore quarterback who only had 14 games under his belt, and not to polished of a passer. As the 2011 season went on Taylor Martinez seemed to find comfort in the passing game, and junior Rex Burkhead carried the load for the Huskers. There losses came at Wisconsin, at Michigan, and home to Northwestern. Their key win came over Michigan State 20-3 at home.
South Carolina started the year off running with a senior quarterback, star wide reciever, and arguably the best running back in the country. They now limp into the bowl game with the quarterback kicked off the team, and sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore on crutches with a torn ACL. The Game Cocks finished the season on a high note with a blow out win over in-state rival Clemson 34-13. They missed the SEC Championship Game with losses to Auburn and Arkansas. Their key win of the season came over Clemson.
Nebraska 24, South Carolina 21
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl
Florida (6-6) vs. Ohio State(6-6)
Florida started a season with out Urban Meyer for the first time in 6 years in 2011. They will end it against Meyers alma mater and future team. First year head coach Will Muschamp left Texas to take his dream job in Gainesville. He started the season with the No.1 ranked recruiting class, and almost finished it with out a bowl game. With all the success Meyer brought to Florida, Muschamp better find away to win, and win fast. He can start by beating Ohio State, and finding a new offensive coordinator since his just took the head coaching job at Kansas. Florida lost to Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida State. Their key win was over rival Tennessee.
Ohio State also came into to 2011 with a new coach. They also have a new quarterback, and started the first 6 games with out their star running back and wide receiver. Current head coach Luke Fickle will be retained by Meyer next season, and will most likely be the Buckeye’s defensive coordinator again. Going .500 probably was not Fickle’s ideal finish in his debut as a head coach, but he will learn a lot under Meyer and should be given another chance by another school if he chooses to be a head coach again some day. Ohio State lost to Miami Fl, Michigan State, Nebraska, Purdue, Penn State, and rival Michigan. Their key win came over Wisconsin at home 33-29.
Ohio State 42, Florida 21
Allstate Sugar Bowl
New Orleans, LA.
Michigan (10-2) vs. Virginia Tech (11-2)
Michigan became an at large BCS team after not playing on Championship Saturday. Michigan beat Ohio State for the first time in 9 years, and after their last regular season gamethey placed 16th in the BCS Poll. For the Wolverines to get an at large bid, they needed a perfect storm to come and take out a couple teams ranked ahead of them, and that is just what happened. Michigan finished the regular season ranked No. 13 and playing in a BCS game. Their losses came to Michigan State and Iowa. Their key win came in a 45-17 route of Nebraska at home.
Virginia Tech was thought to be out of the BCS race with a 10-38 loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. The Hokie’s reputation for bringing their fans with them in large quantities has served them well. The Sugar Bowl invited Virginia Tech to play Michigan. Look for Frank Beamer’s team to come out inspired after the 2nd tragic shooting in two years on school grounds. Both of Tech’s losses came against Clemson by a combined score of 61-13. Their key win came in an 11 point win at Georgia Tech.
Michigan 38, Virginia Tech 28
Wisconsin (11-2) vs. Oregon (11-2)
Wisconsin thought they were coming into the 2011 season replacing 2 All-Big 10 linemen, 3 All-Big 10 defensive players, and a giant question mark at quarterback. What they got was an offensive line that measured up to be bigger than the Green Bay Packers, and a 5th year senior quarterback transfer from NC State, who just happens to be the most accurate passer in ACC history in Russel Wilson. After blowing out Nebraska, and starting the season 6-0, blowing all of their other opponents by more than 30 points. The Badgers turned their focus to a Conference Championship, and possibly a National Championship run. That expectation came too soon. After starting the season so hot, they lost two straight conference games and almost lost the Leaders Division. They revenged their first loss in the season against Michigan State, in the first ever Big Ten Championship Game. Wisconsin’s losses came to Michigan State, and Ohio State. Their key win was a 42-39 win over Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Oregon came into the 2011 season off the heels of their first National Championship appearance in school history, and started 2011 against No. 1 LSU. After a heart breaking 40-27 loss to the Tigers, Oregon won 9 straight games until USC came to Eugene. The Trojans jumped out to a 38-14 lead, and looked like they were going to keep the Ducks from making a 2nd trip back to the National Championship. Then Oregon went on a 21-0 run in the 2nd half. The Ducks set themselves up to a kick a last second field goal and take the game to over time. Sophomore Alejandro Maldonado missed the kick with 3 seconds left on the clock and gave the Ducks their first home loss in 3 years. Oregon’ s key win came over No. 4 Stanford, and Heisman runner up Andrew Luck.
Oregon 45, Wisconsin 35