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Posted on Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 12:10 a.m.

Big 10, Little 2? The Big Ten Conference lands record 10 bowl bids

By Staff

The days of the Big Two and Little Eight died decades ago, but the Big Ten Conference hit a new level of parity on Sunday.

Ten different Big Ten teams -- including four with 6-6 records -- accepted bowl invitations. That's a conference record, topping the previous high of eight teams that played in bowl games following the 2003 and 2007 seasons.

The conference also landed two teams -- Wisconsin (Rose Bowl) and Michigan (Sugar Bowl) -- in the Bowl Championship Series for the 10th time in 14 seasons.

Only Minnesota (3-9) and Indiana (1-10) will spend their holidays at home. Here's a look at where the other Big Ten team are headed, with excerpts of some early previews from The Associated Press:

Purdue vs. Western Michigan
4:30 p.m., Dec. 27

DETROIT (AP) — The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl can welcome a Big Ten team for the first time in four years.

Purdue will play Western Michigan at Detroit's Ford Field. The bowl has a tie with the Big Ten, but it's not always clear whether enough Big Ten teams will be eligible.

"Both teams have significant fan bases and will no doubt bring that support with them to Detroit," said Ken Hoffman, the bowl's executive director. "We expect an outstanding game."

The last Big Ten team to play in this bowl was also Purdue, which beat Central Michigan 51-48 in 2007. The Boilermakers haven't played in a bowl since.

Iowa vs. Oklahoma
10 p.m., Dec. 30
Tempe, Ariz.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Insight Bowl passed on taking Penn State, instead going with two teams that had been to the desert recently.

Given the alleged sexual abuse of children by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky at Penn State, taking Oklahoma and Iowa seemed like the safest bet. The Insight Bowl became one of five bowls to pass on the Nittany Lions.

"We considered Iowa a great opponent and with what they (Penn State) had been through, this wasn't the best year," said Duane Woods, board chairman for the Fiesta Bowl, which operates the Insight Bowl.

The result pits two good teams who'll be playing in the desert for the second straight bowl season.

Iowa (7-5) beat Missouri 27-24 in last year's Insight Bowl for its school-record third straight bowl win. Oklahoma (9-3) also played in the Valley of the Sun last year, routing Connecticut 48-10 in the Fiesta Bowl.

This year, they'll meet at Arizona State's Sun Devil Stadium, hoping to turn around seasons that have fizzled at the end.

Northwestern vs. Texas A&M
Noon, Dec. 31

HOUSTON (AP) — Texas A&M will stay close to home for its final game before leaving the Big 12.

The Aggies will take on Northwestern in a matchup that pits a pair of .500 teams hoping to rebound from uneven seasons. Texas A&M even has a different coach -- Tim DeRuyter is leading the team on an interim basis after Mike Sherman was fired Thursday.

"There has been a little bit of a cloud," said DeRuyter, who had been the team's defensive coordinator. "I think our guys are excited to get back on the field."

Texas A&M (6-6), joining the Southeastern Conference next season, entered this season with a top-10 ranking and were expected to contend for the Big 12 championship. Instead they lost early games to Oklahoma State and Arkansas after holding double-digit halftime leads.

Northwestern (6-6) had its four-game winning streak snapped by Michigan State in its final Big Ten game of the season.

Illinois vs. UCLA
3:30 p.m., Dec. 31
San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Fight Hunger Bowl ought to be called the Interim Coach Bowl this season.

UCLA and Illinois accepted bids after disappointing seasons that led both schools to fire their head coaches. That creates a matchup between a team with a losing record against one entering the bowl game on a six-game losing streak.

The Bruins (6-7) fired coach Rick Neuheisel last week before losing the Pac-12 title game 49-31 to Oregon to fall below .500. UCLA played in the game only because USC was ineligible because of probation. The NCAA approved a waiver for the Bruins because they were bowl eligible before the conference championship game.

Illinois opened the season 6-0 and briefly surged into the Top 25. The Illini then lost six straight games, costing coach Ron Zook his job after a 27-7 loss to struggling Minnesota in the regular-season finale.

Two defensive coordinators -- Illinois' Vic Koenning and UCLA's Mike Johnson -- are serving as interim coaches.

Penn State vs. Houston
Noon, Jan. 2

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Despite the horror of the allegations against Jerry Sandusky, Penn State president Rodney Erickson said the team still deserved to play in a bowl game because the players had nothing to do with the scandal that has enveloped the school and its treasured football program.

The Ticket City Bowl, played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, grabbed Penn State (9-3) with the seventh selection out of bowls with Big Ten tie-ins, after the BCS games.

Houston (12-1) fell from a potential berth in the Bowl Championship Series to the Ticket City after getting upset by Southern Mississippi, 49-28, on Saturday in its league title game.

Now the Ticket City Bowl gets a relatively high-profile matchup between the Nittany Lions, who usually draw large postseason crowds, and the Cougars and star quarterback Case Keenum playing in their home state.

Both schools have seemingly tentative coaching situations. Houston's Kevin Sumlin has been mentioned as a top candidate for high-profile openings. Penn State is searching for a replacement for legendary Joe Paterno, who was fired as part of the Sandusky scandal.

Ohio State vs. Florida
1 p.m., Jan. 2
Jacksonville, Fla.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Urban Meyer's former and future teams will play in the Gator Bowl.

Florida (6-6) and Ohio State (6-6) will meet in a matchup of once-proud programs that slipped significantly this season. The teams last played in the 2006 national championship game, which Florida won 41-14.

Meyer's hiring earlier in the week in Columbus makes the rematch even more intriguing.

But both sides insist it won't be a distraction, even though Meyer already has lured highly regarded strength coach Mickey Marotti away from Florida.

Meyer won two national titles in six years with the Gators and left Gainesville after last season, citing health concerns and a desire to spend more time with his family. He was introduced as Ohio State's coach Monday.

Luke Fickell, retained by Meyer as an assistant coach, will lead the Buckeyes through the bowl.

Will Muschamp, a former defensive coordinator at Texas, replaced Meyer last December and has struggled to pick up the pieces. The Gators lost six of their last eight games, and had to rally to beat lower-division Furman last month.

Michigan State vs. Georgia
1 p.m., Jan. 2
Tampa, Fla.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Conference championship game losers Georgia and Michigan State have landed in the same bowl. One of them will rebound. The other will end the season with consecutive losses.

The 18th-ranked Bulldogs (10-3) and 12th-ranked Spartans (10-3) is a matchup of 10-win teams that had a chance to earn berths in the Bowl Championship Series. Instead, they dropped below the Capital One Bowl.

The Capital One chose Nebraska over Michigan State, and picked South Carolina over Georgia.

"Our focus is on winning our last football game -- the bowl game," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "It's important for our seniors -- the winningest four-year class in Spartan history -- to add a bowl victory to its long list of accomplishments."

Nebraska vs. South Carolina
1 p.m., Jan. 2
Orlando, Fla.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The Capital One Bowl will feature one of college football's most respected offensive gurus matching wits with one of the sport's young defensive minds.

Steve Spurrier and No. 10 South Carolina will square off against Bo Pelini and No. 21 Nebraska. It will be the first meeting between the schools since 1987 and first-ever postseason matchup.

Nebraska (9-3) comes in having wrapped up its first year in the Big Ten and has a chance to post 10 wins for the third straight season. Despite some stumbles that kept them from making a BCS run, Pelini is making his fourth straight bowl appearance as coach. He also added to his defensive reputation with the 18th-best passing defense in the nation.

South Carolina (10-2) is also making its fourth straight bowl appearance, but hasn't won a bowl game since the 2006 Liberty Bowl. Spurrier is calling this a huge game for his team. A victory would give the Gamecocks 11 wins for the first time in more than 100 years of football, and end a disturbing run of three ugly bowl losses.

Wisconsin vs. Oregon
4:30 p.m., Jan. 2
Pasadena, Calif.

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — The last two losers of the Rose Bowl have another chance to get it right.

The ninth-ranked Badgers (11-2) are headed to their second straight Rose Bowl after losing 21-19 to TCU last year. The No. 6 Ducks (11-2) lost to Ohio State in Pasadena two seasons ago.

Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema is already motivated for a particularly compelling chapter of the Rose Bowl's traditional intersectional rivalry, with the wildly inventive Ducks pitted against the Badgers' old-school power football.

"The great thing about this bowl game matchup is it's the direct opposites of offensive philosophy," Bielema said. "You want to have unique matchups, and for us to play Oregon in one of the best environments for football anywhere, it's going to be so unique. It's going to draw a lot of attention."

Players from both teams knew their holiday destination well before the official announcement, celebrating with roses in their teeth after they won their conferences' first title games over the weekend. Oregon battered UCLA 49-31 at Autzen Stadium on Friday, and Wisconsin edged Michigan State 42-39 on Saturday.

Michigan vs. Virginia Tech
8:30 p.m., Jan. 3
New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Michigan will face Virginia Tech in a showdown of storied programs that was patched together after the Sugar Bowl couldn't invite one of its traditional partners from the Southeastern Conference.

Top-ranked LSU and No. 2 Alabama will both be coming to the Big Easy, but they'll be playing six days later in the BCS championship game.

Going strictly on the rankings, the Sugar Bowl's next-best options were Boise State and Kansas State. The selection committee snubbed them both, going with schools that are likely bring more fans to the Superdome and drum up interest in a game that will surely be overshadowed in its own city.

Virginia Tech (11-2) claimed a BCS bid despite losing 38-10 to Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game. The Orange Bowl-bound Tigers handed the Hokies their only two losses.

Led by quarterback Denard Robinson, Michigan (10-2) had a resurgent season under first-year coach Brady Hoke, capped by a 40-34 victory over Ohio State that ended a seven-year losing streak to the Wolverines' biggest rival.

The Sugar Bowl had targeted Michigan all along, though the spot wasn't assured until the Wolverines climbed past 14th the final BCS standings -- the cutoff line to be eligible as a team that didn't win its conference title.



Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 11:18 p.m.

With the 6 win eligible rule, all twelve Big Ten teams could have gone to a bowl game each year if every team wins their non-conference games and just win 3 conference games. Basically, you have 50/50 chance of going to a bowl game right off the bat. I like to see NCAA / BCS change the rule to 7 wins against upper-division teams to be eligible for a bowl game. That way, lower tier bowls can reward deserving smaller conferece schools that have better record than big school with padded 6 wins. Competition should always be about performance, not entitlement.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 3:54 p.m.

Go Ducks!


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 11:08 a.m.

You backed into the Sugar Bowl now you get to Back Out a LOSER.Which is only fair.


Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 5:34 p.m.

I'll take one Hoke over thousands of Hokies. GEAUX BLUE !!!!!


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 11:09 a.m.

and you'll take backer inners.


Tue, Dec 6, 2011 : 6:17 a.m.

State will not show up and lose to SEC runner up Georgia- embarrassing the big ten again. Thanks for acting stupid Spartans. If you want to become a top program- try winning a bowl game so recruits don't reject you.


Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 4:13 p.m.

There is a reason the Capital One passed on Sparty and took the Huskers.


Tue, Dec 6, 2011 : 6:10 a.m.

Pudue, Northwestern, Ilinois? Man people will pay to watch anything.


Tue, Dec 6, 2011 : 3:39 a.m.

I think Northwestern has a fighting chance after beating Nebraska in Lincoln. Let's put on B1G show for the whole world this month and the New Year's weekend.


Tue, Dec 6, 2011 : 2:10 a.m.

It's beyond me how the B1G received 10 bids this season. The B1G is down this year. I think we'd be lucky to get 4 wins total.

Terry Star21

Tue, Dec 6, 2011 : 2:39 a.m.

$$$. Big Ten has the best fan base, travel, etc. in America.


Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 9:49 p.m.

We have a really good chance of going 0-10 this year. I dont like ANY matchups......... But for the "Kids", its an opportunity to get a whole basket of free stuff from last years haul, this year should be similar Editors note: I Think the term "Gift Suite" means gift card to a certain store or website. It money. Little Caesars (Purdue) Gift suite, Timely Watch Co., leather duffle bag, commemorative football Insight Bowl (Iowa Again) Sony Gift Suite, Tourneau watch, cap, Ogio Cooper backpack Meineke Car Care (NW) would not disclose, but the year previous was a choice of Bose gift packages or iPod Touch, speakers and a $20 gift card, Fossil Watch, Ogio duffel bag, commemorative Richard Petty Driving Experience photo Fight Hunger Bowl (Is this the emerald bowl?) (illinos) Who knows...... TicketCity Bowl (Penn State) Gift suite, Timely Watch Co. Gator Bowl (Ohio State) Fossil watch, Oakley sunglasses, Leather duffle bag, Jostens ring, commemorative football Outback Bowl (Michigan State) $150 Best Buy gift card, Fossil watch, cap, Jostens ring, $25 Outback Steakhouse gift certificate Capital One Bowl (Nebraska) $420 shopping spree at local Best Buy*, Timely Watch Co. Rose Bowl (Wisconsin) Gift suite, Fossil watch, Oakley cap, Oakley Bugeye backpack Sugar Bowl (Michigan) Sleek Audio custom earphones, gift suite, Reactor Meltdown watch, New Era cap Just make sure all the players keep all their free gear until they are out of school, NO TRADES!


Tue, Dec 6, 2011 : 6:11 a.m.

0 and 10. Your insane.


Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 9:52 p.m.

I take back my original comment, after further review i like Purdue and NW to win their bowls....... 2-8

... and Cousins wept.

Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 9:36 p.m.

I'm glad to just be in a bowl. Give Hoke and all the kids credit for earning a 10-2 season, one year after the flame out. Just wondering when Sparty will stop whining and concentrate on Georgia. The most painful loss in football I have is waiting for the last year's MSU vs. Alabama matchup. I was genuinely excited to see MSU represent the Big 10 against the SEC powerhouse. I didn't even finish 2 beers... I was so pissed off watching Bama slap around "the best the Big 10 had to offer." The Big 10 needs to deliver victories... then we can work on our rep and get better recruits. The 5 star blue chip players think SEC first... then everyone else.

1st Down

Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 8:07 p.m.

Some tough matchups for the Big Ten but generally our conference should come out of this with a winning record 6-4. BTW the Pizza Bowl makes me hungry and its almost lunch time.


Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 6:18 p.m.

I'm assuming the Big 2 are Wisconsin and MSU since UM doesn't play Wisc and doesn't beat MSU anymore. Please clarify. LOL

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 7:11 p.m.

don't forget Wisc will now roll in and out of both teams schedule as a non-division opponent. Don't forget MSU didn't play Ohio State last year in their 10-1 regular season. Don't forget MSU's cross divisional "rival" is that powerhouse Indiana. And lets not forget MSU's winning streak is now an "impressive' 2 straight years.

Frank Brandon

Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 4:02 p.m.

Very impressive. 35 bowl games and you have 10 of your teams make it. 70 teams!! Give me a break, I think Cass Tech and Catholic Central were close to getting bids as well.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 2:53 p.m.

Now all we need is for the Big 10-11-12 to represent and win some games.


Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

Exactly - no one's going to remember the B1G sent 10 teams to bowls unless we WIN them. 2003, 2007, 2010 anyone? Other "record setting" bowl seasons.


Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 2:05 p.m.

Bowl games are no longer a nice reward at the end of the season for a few teams who did well. They have become the "participation ribbons" that are handed out at elementary school competitions for college football.


Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 1:37 p.m.

This article is wrong in this respect. Big Ten has Nine teams and one Cry Baby. Congrats too those teams proud to be in there respective bowl games.... MS Whoo has a few weeks too decide if their going to grow up or take there ball and stay home. State has a great match up. The battle between SEC and Big Ten is alive...ESPN hates the Big Ten.....If Sparty can pull it together. They could represent well

Blu n Tpa

Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 1:33 p.m.

I agree with this matchup being "winnable". I was concerned that "Bama was going to slip out of the Championship Game and meet Michigan 9 months earlier that Coach Hoke would like. So the season where a lot of things fell into Michigan's lap, like 8 home games, favorable schedule, and great coach and staff, will continue into the New Year. Don't you just love it when a plan comes together? Ahhh, This is Michigan! Go Blue!


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 5:53 p.m.

That would have been a disaster. Michigan isn't ready for Alabama yet.


Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 1:03 p.m.

Very impressive for the B1G to send 10 teams. The match ups seem very good. MSU will have a very tough time against GA. Michigan was lucky to miss either Baylor and Ks State. The Va tech match up seems winnable for the Maize and Blue.