Ten Big Ten schools will compete in postseason bowl games this year, a first in league history.
The league gained two Bowl Championship Series selections for 10th time in 14 seasons. No. 9 Wisconsin (11-2), which beat Michigan State 42-39 to win the inaugural league title game, advances to the Rose Bowl for the second consecutive season. The Badgers will face No. 6 Oregon (11-2) on Jan. 2. The Big Ten is 30-34 all-time in the Rose Bowl, and Wisconsin is 3-4 in the bowl. The Badgers have advanced to the Rose Bowl five times since 1993.
No. 13 Michigan (10-2) will compete in the Sugar Bowl against No. 17 Virginia Tech (11-2) of the Atlantic Coast Conference on Jan. 3. It’s the Wolverines’ first BCS appearance since the 2006 regular season when they advanced to the Rose Bowl. It’s Michigan’s 41st bowl appearance and second in the Sugar Bowl. The Big Ten is 1-4 all-time in the Sugar Bowl.
No. 21 Nebraska (9-3) will make its initial Big Ten bowl appearance, taking on No. 10 South Carolina (10-2) in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 2. The Cornhuskers’ last appearance in the Orlando-based bowl was following the 1990 season. The Big Ten is 11-10 in the Capital One Bowl.
No. 12 Michigan State (10-3), the Big Ten runner-up, faces No. 18 Georgia (10-2), which lost the Southeastern Conference title game Saturday in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2. The teams last met in the 2009 Capital One Bowl, which Georgia won. It’s the fifth straight season Michigan State has advanced to a bowl game.
Ohio State (6-6) will play Florida (6-6) in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2. The game has perhaps the most intriguing storyline with former Florida Coach Urban Meyer taking over at Ohio State next year. Meyer won national titles after the 2006 and 2008 seasons, including the 2006 title with a 41-14 blowout of Ohio State. It’s Ohio State’s first appearance at the Gator Bowl since the infamous 1978 loss to Clemson, which was marked by former coach Woody Hayes’ punching a Clemson player following an interception. It’s the Buckeyes’ first Florida bowl since 2001.
Iowa (7-5) advances to its second consecutive Insight Bowl (Dec. 30), facing No. 19 Oklahoma (9-3). The Sooners feature three former Hawkeyes on their coaching staff including head coach Bob Stoops and assistants Jay Norvell and Bruce Kittle. Iowa is the only Big Ten team to win its last three bowl games and has been bowl eligible for 11 consecutive years. For more on this game, click on Marc Morehouse’s blog.
Northwestern (6-6) will compete in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas against Texas A&M (6-6) on Dec. 31. Texas A&M is located just 80 miles from the bowl site in Houston. It’s Northwestern’s 10th bowl appearance and fourth in six years under Coach Pat Fitzgerald.
No. 24 Penn State (9-3) fell several bowl slots because of the child sex scandal that has clouded its season. The Nittany Lions beat three teams that jumped them in the bowl lineup and fell to the TicketCity Bowl at the old Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2. Penn State does get a quality opponent in No. 20 Houston (12-1). Penn State is 4-0-1 all-time in Texas bowls.
Purdue (6-6) advances to its first bowl since 2007 with the Dec. 27 Little Caesar’s Bowl against Western Michigan (2007). It’s the Boilermakers’ 16 bowl appearance.
Illinois (6-6) was invited to a bowl outside the Big Ten umbrella and will face UCLA (6-7) in the Dec. 31 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco. The teams have met three times in bowls with the Illini winning once. It’s the first time in school history Illinois will play in back-to-back bowl games.
The Big Ten has sent 25 teams to the the BCS since 1998, the most of any conference.