The Big Ten season has come to an end, and with three teams laying claim to the Big Ten Championship - Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin - the Bowl possibilities are endless. Right?
Well, the BCS does figure out some things for us. For example, Wisconsin is awarded the Big Ten's automatic bid to the Rose Bowl since they are ranked higher - or lower, depending on how you look at it - than Ohio State or MSU. While there IS one more week of action for teams around the country - including championship games in the SEC and Big 12, for instance - it is unlikely those will have much impact on Wisconsin finishing above Ohio State.
So where does that leave the Buckeyes? Here's my best guess, as well as where other Big Ten teams might end up on or around New Year's Day:
2011 Rose Bowl: Wisconsin Vs. TCU - This appears to be a lock, unless Auburn loses to South Carolina in the SEC Championship or Oregon loses to Oregon State. TCU was the big winner when Boise State lost at Nevada on Friday night and their hopes of playing for the National Championship are still alive. Still, a Rose Bowl appearance against a strong Wisconsin team is hardly a bad deal, considering it will mean upwards of $13 million to the school. Wisconson will finish the highest in the BCS Standings among the three teams that share the Big Ten Championship and are awarded the automatic birth.
2011 Sugar Bowl - Ohio State Vs. Arkansas - Arkansas moving up to #7 in this week's rankings have them in a prime position to face the Buckeyes in the Sugar Bowl, now that LSU is out of the picture. There is still plenty to be determined, however, especially if one of the top-2 teams lose this weekend. Should South Carolina shock Auburn in the SEC Championship, the Gamecocks would face Ohio State instead. Ohio State, by finishing in the top-6 of the BCS, is a lock, especially considering how well they travel. TVs tune to the Buckeyes as well when they are on TV, music to advertiser's ears - and wallets.
2011 Capital One Bowl - Michigan State Vs. Alabama - Despite losing to Auburn, the Crimson Tide are still a favorite of mine to get a big-time New Year's Day bowl - unless South Carolina beats Auburn. That would change everything. Not changing, however, is the Spartan's trip to Orlando. Sure, they are disappointed, since they held their destiny in their hands, but MSU is on the rise and the Capital One Bowl, against a quality SEC opponent will be great PR for the football program.
2011 Outback Bowl - Penn State Vs. South Carolina - In reality, this could go a couple of different ways. Iowa could be the Big Ten representative here, with Penn State possibly going to the Gator Bowl. South Carolina could throw a wrench into the entire BCS process by beating Auburn in the SEC Championship, something few seem to be giving them a chance to do. Still, a Paterno V. Spurrier matchup still has its luster, and the Outback Bowl would likely feel pretty good with it.
2011 Gator Bowl - Iowa Vs. Florida - Substitute Penn State if here you'd like, it really is a toss-up. The Gators will be there, and when I flipped a coin I came up with Iowa ending up as the opponent. The Hawkeyes season ended with disappointment, but they still should get the nod over Michigan.
2011 TicketCity Bowl - Northwestern Vs. Texas Tech - Michigan will likely head to a bowl game, but I like Northwestern to get the nod to face a Big 12 opponent here. Northwestern has been a fun team to watch all season, and their win over Iowa is a quality win, something the Wolverines really don't have.