The 2018 regular season was an eventful one for Big Ten Football. This season held both positive and negative surprises for the 14 teams. Northwestern, a positive surprise, punched their ticket to the Big Ten title game by winning the Big Ten West with an 8-1 record. Negatively, the Big Ten’s prestige took a hit when preseason ranked No. 4 Wisconsin and No. 11 Michigan State both finished the regular season 7-5.

Here’s a look at where the nine bowl eligible Big Ten teams will be playing this holiday season as a result of their 2018 regular season performance.

 

Big Ten Standings

Big Ten East

1. No. 6 Ohio State 11-1 (8-1)

2. No. 7 Michigan 10-2 (8-1)

3. No. 12 Penn State 9-3 (6-3)

4. MSU 7-5 (5-4)

5. Maryland 5-7 (3-6)

6. Indiana 5-7 (2-7)

7. Rutgers 1-11 (0-9)

Big Ten West

1. No. 21 Northwestern 8-4

T2. Wisconsin 7-5 (5-4)

T2. Iowa 8-4 (5-4)

T2. Purdue 6-6 (5-4)

T5. Minnesota 6-6 (3-6)

T5. Nebraska 4-8 (3-6)

7. Illinois 4-8 (2-7)

New Year’s Six Tie-ins

College Football Playoff

(Cotton or Orange Bowl)

Possibly, though unlikely, No. 6 Ohio State

ROSE BOWL (Pasadena, CA)

Either No. 6 Ohio State, Northwestern, or No. 8 Michigan

PEACH BOWL (Atlanta, GA) – At Large 

Possibly No. 6 Ohio State, No. 8 Michigan, or No. 12 Penn State

FIESTA BOWL (Glendale, AZ) – At Large 

Possibly No. 6 Ohio State, No. 8 Michigan, or No. 12 Penn State

Purdue’s chances at a higher-tier bowl increase with each New Year’s Six bowl made by a Big Ten team. The only New Year’s Six (NY6) that no Big Ten could be invited to is the Sugar Bowl which goes to the top SEC and Big 12 schools who weren’t invited to the College Football Playoffs.

High-Tier Bowls

CITRUS BOWL (Orlando, FL)

Rule: The Citrus Bowl will feature at least five different Big Ten schools over the six-year agreement.

2013 Season: Wisconsin

2014 Season: Minnesota

2015 Season: Michigan

The Big Ten was not featured in the prior two seasons, but you’d think they’d avoid Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. Northwestern and Penn State are prime candidates if they don’t get invited to a NY6 bowl.

OUTBACK BOWL (Tampa, FL)  

Rule: Will feature at least five different Big Ten schools during the six-year agreement.

2013 Season: Iowa

2014 Season: Wisconsin

2015 Season: Northwestern

2016 Season: Iowa

2017 Season: Michigan

If Penn State makes it to one of the NY6 bowls, namely the at large tie-in Peach or Fiesta Bowl, the Outback Bowl must choose between Michigan State and Purdue. However, if Penn State is not chosen for one of those bowls they’d be the most preferred pick for the Outback Bowl.

HOLIDAY BOWL (San Diego,CA)

Rule: Will feature at least five different Big Ten schools during the six-year agreement.

2014 Season: Nebraska

2015 Season: Wisconsin

2016 Season: Minnesota

2017 Season: Michigan State

Hypothetically the Holiday Bowl could pick a repeat school, but I’d expect them to decide between Iowa and Purdue.

Mid-Tier Bowls

TAXSLAYER GATOR BOWL (Jacksonville, FL)

Rule: No Big Ten school will play in more than one Music City Bowl and one TaxSlayer Gator Bowl during the six-year agreement. The Big Ten will rotate between being tied to the Music City and Gator Bowls starting in 2017.

2013 Gator: Nebraska

2014 Gator: Iowa

2015 Gator: Penn State

2016 Music City: Nebraska

2017 Music City: Northwestern

One would have to think the Gator Bowl will decide between Wisconsin, MSU, Minnesota and Purdue. If they elect pass on them all, it is possible that the Music City could take one of the four teams.

NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL (New York, NY)

Rule: The goal is to have eight different Big Ten schools participate in eight years, with a minimum of six different Big Ten schools playing in the Pinstripe Bowl during the eight-year agreement.

2014 Pinstripe: Penn State

2015 Pinstripe: Indiana

2016 Pinstripe: Northwestern

2017 Pinstripe: Iowa

The Pinstripe Bowl would likely decide between Purdue, MSU, or Minnesota. It is doubtful that Wisconsin will fall this far.

REDBOX BOWL (Santa Clara, CA) Formerly Foster Farms Bowl

Rule: Will feature at least five different Big Ten schools during the six year agreement.

2014 Foster Farms: Maryland

2015 Foster Farms: Nebraska

2016 Foster Farms: Indiana

2017 Foster Farms: Purdue

The Redbox Bowl probably won’t want a recent visitor, and therefore will likely choose either Minnesota or MSU. If Wisconsin is still here I’d say they’re the most likely choice here.

Low-Tier

QUICK LANE BOWL (Detroit, MI)

Will select a Big Ten bowl eligible school, subject to conference approval.

(none in 2013)

2014 Season Quick Lane: Rutgers

2015 Season Quick Lane: Minnesota

2016 Season Quick Lane: Maryland

            (none in 2017)

I would expect the Quick Lane Bowl to avoid selecting Minnesota if they can. Purdue and MSU are the other two schools who could see themselves fall to Detroit.

Bowl Matchup Decisions

In the most likely scenario only Ohio State and Michigan among Big Ten teams will make NY6 bowls. That said, there could be three if either Northwestern upsets Ohio State or Penn State is chosen over the likes of Florida, LSU, WSU, and the loser of Texas vs. Oklahoma.

In the most likely scenario, Purdue has no chance at the Citrus Bowl or Outback Bowl because their resume isn’t comparable to either that of Penn State or Northwestern. We can assess how their resume matches up against suitors for the Holiday, Gator, Pinstripe, Red Box, and Quick Lane bowls.

Note: Purdue Fans should root for Northwestern to upset Ohio State in order to gain consideration for the Outback Bowl

HOLIDAY BOWL Suitors

 

                                    Iowa                   Purdue

                      Wins:       8                          6

     Conference Wins:       5                          5

   Bowl-Eligible Wins:  2 (7-4 ISU & 6-6 MN)  3 (11-1 OSU, 7-5 BC, 8-4 Iowa)

Fanbase Excitement:  Average             Above Average

 Yards of Offense:    No. 9 in Big Ten      No. 2 in Big Ten

When adding the fact that Purdue has defeated Iowa the past two seasons it appears that Purdue would be the more attractive choice. That said, the Hawkeye’s 8-4 record will probably be enough to put in Iowa over Purdue.

Likely Holiday Bowl Participant: Iowa

GATOR BOWL Suitors

                                                MSU  Purdue Wisconsin Minnesota

Wins:                                         7        6            7              6

Conference Wins:                        5        5            5              3

Bowl-Eligible Wins:                      3        3            2              4 (Miami (OH) may miss out)

Fanbase Excitement:                 BA       AA           BA            A

Yards of Offense:                    No. 13  No. 2      No. 4        No. 10

Key: BA = Below Average,   AA = Above Average,   A = Average

Purdue lost to all three of these teams, so it’ll be hard to fathom a way they are taken over all of the other three (Wisconsin, MSU, Minnesota).

Even though Wisconsin has been arguably College Football’s most disappointing team in 2018, they’d probably get the nod for the Gator Bowl. Wisconsin has relied on it’s not very exciting defense and run-game to win all of seven games this season. Purdue fans would be more willing and excited than Wisconsin fans to be chosen for the Gator Bowl, but Wisconsin is likely too big of a program for the bowl representatives to pass up.

Likely Gator Bowl Participant: Wisconsin

 

And then there were three…

REDBOX BOWL

The Redbox Bowl would then likely be awarded to MSU as their resume and fanbase is likely still larger than Purdue’s, even despite a disappointing season for the Spartans.

Likely Redbox Bowl Participant: MSU

PINSTRIPE BOWL

They’d probably have to go with Minnesota over Purdue here. Obviously, Minnesota’s beat down of Purdue (41-10) and Wisconsin (37-15) has made it a more attractive choice than it would have been otherwise. Even though it’s hard to understand, there is a reason why the Pinstripe Bowl would choose a so-so exciting team that went 3-6 in Big Ten play over an exciting team that went 5-4 in conference.

It has to do with the fact that Minnesota played in Detroit three years ago, and the Big Ten would prefer to freshen up the bowl landscape. Unfortunately this means that Purdue’s win over Ohio State will not be used as a resume builder for the Boilers to get to a supposedly better bowl.

Likely Pinstripe Bowl Participant: Minnesota

QUICK LANE BOWL

This would leave Purdue to be chosen for the Quick Lane Bowl

Likely Quick Lane Bowl Participant: Purdue

 

If a third Big Ten team makes a NY6 bowl, this would shuffle significantly. Purdue would move up to the Redbox Bowl (San Francisco), but since it played in San Francisco last season that would not likely occur. The Pinstripe Bowl would then become the most likely destination for Purdue, but there still remains the possibility that Purdue will move up even higher.

In order for this to happen, Purdue must root for some chaos, like a Northwestern Big Ten Title, if it want to play in a warm weather bowl. In this situation, Northwestern would be playing in the Rose Bowl, while Michigan and Ohio State (assuming they keep it close) would take at large spots in form of the Peach and Fiesta Bowl.

Note for Northwestern and Penn State fans

Since the Citrus Bowl is ACC/Big Ten vs SEC it is possible that Syracuse could be selected over Northwestern or Penn State. The most likely scenario is that No. 12 Penn State is chosen for the Citrus Bowl as it’d be ranked above No. 21 Northwestern and No. 20 Syracuse.

However, the Outback Bowl is not allowed to take Northwestern (2015 season Outback Bowl participants) due to needing “five different teams in six seasons”. That said, If Northwestern is ranked higher than Syracuse after the Big Ten title game, they should take Northwestern over Penn State and Syracuse, leaving Penn State to claim the Outback Bowl.

The Big Ten is the only conference in College Football that has the final say in where their bowl eligible teams go. So it’s not likely that the Citrus Bowl would pass Northwestern over and make them skip the Outback Bowl (No. 3) in order to go to what’s figuratively the No. 4 Big Ten Bowl tie-in, The Holiday Bowl.

The situation in which Northwestern is not selected for either the Citrus Bowl or the Outback Bowl is how Purdue would have a chance to move up to the Outback amidst the bowl shuffling.

If the Big Ten believes that Purdue is a better choice than MSU and Minnesota, then the Boilers could find themselves in Tampa. Michigan State has been the second most boring offense in the Big Ten (Rutgers No. 1) all year, but in the final three games its offense has really shown its worst hand yet.

Michigan State has scored 26 points the last three weeks against a schedule that included 4-8 Nebraska (lost 9-6) and 1-11 Rutgers (won 14-10). You probably couldn’t even convince MSU fans at this point that they are the more worthy pick than Purdue. There is no way they’ll even take a look at a Minnesota team that wound up 3-6 in Big Ten play.

We’ll all know on December 2.

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Author Details
Content Creator at Armchair Purdue , The Armchair All-Americans, LLC
Drew Cubitt- Growing up in Evanston, IL I come from the heart of Northwestern nation. That said my choice of fandom was neither hard or forced. My parents both went to Purdue and met senior year. I was named Drew in large part due to Purdue great Drew Brees who would be drafted by the chargers just 2 months later. Yes I’m only 17. But because of this, at the spry age of eight I was witnessing the baby boilers of Purdue basketball, and a super bowl victory from my favorite NFL team, the Saints(Drew Brees). It is from here that I learned we can’t all be winners, as both the Saints and boiler basketball teams have combined to have 5 losing seasons since… not to mention myself never seeing a better than 6-6 regular season from the football squad(started following 07-08). BTW my golden retriever’s name is Boiler 😉
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Content Creator at Armchair Purdue , The Armchair All-Americans, LLC
Drew Cubitt- Growing up in Evanston, IL I come from the heart of Northwestern nation. That said my choice of fandom was neither hard or forced. My parents both went to Purdue and met senior year. I was named Drew in large part due to Purdue great Drew Brees who would be drafted by the chargers just 2 months later. Yes I’m only 17. But because of this, at the spry age of eight I was witnessing the baby boilers of Purdue basketball, and a super bowl victory from my favorite NFL team, the Saints(Drew Brees). It is from here that I learned we can’t all be winners, as both the Saints and boiler basketball teams have combined to have 5 losing seasons since… not to mention myself never seeing a better than 6-6 regular season from the football squad(started following 07-08). BTW my golden retriever’s name is Boiler 😉

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