The Big Ten positioned itself nicely among the bowls many years ago, partly because of its massive fan bases and steep tradition and partly because of Commissioner Jim Delany’s leadership.
But in the 1990s, there was more equality among the conferences. While Florida State and Miami were pounding the daylights out of teams in high-profile bowl games, the Big Ten and SEC were nearly equal in their bowl match-ups. It made for compelling bowl games. Current SEC schools (including Texas A&M) held a 10-9 lead in bowl match-ups from 1990 through 1999.
This year, those potential Big Ten-SEC games look really uneven, if only because the Big Ten’s play matches that description. Here in mid-September, I’m not sure anyone relishes an Outback Bowl that features Michigan or Nebraska against Johnny Football and Texas A&M. Or a Capital One Bowl match-up (take your pick from the Big Ten) against Alabama, LSU or Georgia. But that’s the way the scenarios fall until next year, and it’s always possible for the Big Ten to improve by early January. If not, well, it’s another offseason of national rebukes.
With Indiana’s 2-2 non-conference start and a difficult league slate, it appears the Big Ten won’t fill all of its bowl slots (unless Illinois can string together at least three league wins). So once again, we have the Little Caesar’s Bowl without a Big Ten representative. Also, this is the year the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl selects ahead of the Gator Bowl. I think that potential match-up would generate interest in Middle America.
BCS CHAMPIONSHIP — Oregon (Pac-12 champ) vs. Georgia (SEC champ)
ROSE — Ohio State (Big Ten champ) vs. Stanford (replaces Oregon)
ORANGE — Clemson (ACC champ) vs. Wisconsin (first at-large pick)
SUGAR — Alabama (replaces Georgia) vs. Oklahoma (second at-large pick)
FIESTA — Oklahoma State (Big 12 champ) vs. Louisville (Big East champ)
BIG TEN BOWLS
CAPITAL ONE — Northwestern vs. South Carolina
OUTBACK — Michigan vs. Texas A&M
BUFFALO WILD WINGS — Nebraska vs. Kansas State
GATOR — Michigan State vs. Florida
TEXAS — Iowa vs. Texas
HEART OF DALLAS — Minnesota vs. Rice
COTTON — Baylor vs. LSU
CHICK-FIL-A — Florida State vs. Ole Miss
MUSIC CITY — Virginia Tech vs. Missouri
LIBERTY — Tulsa vs. Tennessee
COMPASS — Cincinnati vs. Auburn
ALAMO — Texas Tech vs. UCLA
HOLIDAY — TCU vs. Washington
PINSTRIPE — Notre Dame (Big 12 replacement) vs. Rutgers
SUN — Maryland vs. Arizona State
LAS VEGAS — Fresno State vs. Arizona
KRAFT FIGHT HUNGER — BYU vs. USC
RUSSELL — Miami vs. Central Florida
BELK — North Carolina vs. Houston
LITTLE CAESARS — Ball State vs. Bowling Green (Big Ten replacement)
INDEPENDENCE — North Carolina State vs. Arkansas State (SEC replacement)
NEW MEXICO — Wyoming vs. Utah
MILITARY — Georgia Tech vs. Marshall
BEEF O’BRADY — East Carolina vs. SMU
ARMED FORCES — Navy vs. Utah State
IDAHO POTATO — Northern Illinois vs. Boise State
HAWAII — San Jose State vs. Middle Tennessee State
NEW ORLEANS — Tulane vs. Western Kentucky
GODADDY — Ohio vs. Louisiana-Monroe
POINSETTIA — Nevada vs. Oregon State (Army replacement)
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