Breaking Down The Big Ten's New Bowl Partnerships

By RossWB on June 21, 2019 at 6:50 pm
cheez it up
© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Change is coming to the Big Ten's postseason bowl lineup. The current lineup has been in place for the last five years or so, but (most of) those contracts are up after the 2019 season and the league and its partners are planning some changes for the bowls beginning with the 2020 season. Let's break down the changes: 

1 Rose Bowl Pasadena, CA 1 Rose Bowl Pasadena, CA
1 Orange Bowl* Miami, FL 1 Orange Bowl* Miami, FL
1 Citrus Bowl Orlando, FL 1 Citrus Bowl Orlando, FL
1 Outback Bowl Tampa, FL 1 Outback Bowl Tampa, FL
2 Pinstripe Bowl New York, NY 2 Pinstripe Bowl New York, NY
2 Holiday Bowl San Diego, CA 2 Las Vegas Bowl / 
Belk Bowl
Las Vegas, NV / 
Charlotte, NC
2 Music City Bowl / 
TaxSlayer Bowl
Nashville, TN / 
Jacksonville, FL
2 Music City Bowl Nashville, TN
3 First Responder Bowl / 
Armed Forces Bowl
Dallas, TX / 
Forth Worth, TX
2 Cheez-It Bowl Phoenix, AZ
3 Redbox Bowl Santa Clara, CA 3 Redbox Bowl Santa Clara, CA
3 Quick Lane Bowl Detroit, MI 3 Quick Lane Bowl Detroit, MI

Some thoughts: 

  • The Rose Bowl is the Rose Bowl -- nothing is changing there. The Big Ten champion (or the highest-ranked Big Ten representative, if the Big Ten champion is in the College Football Playoff -- hey, it might happen again one of these years) will head to Pasadena every year (unless the Rose Bowl is hosting one of the College Football Playoff semifinals, that is). 
  • The Big Ten's relationship with the Orange Bowl remains unchanged as well. The highest-ranked team Big Ten or ACC team not already committed to the College Football Playoff (or the Rose or Sugar Bowls) or Notre Dame will grab a slot in the Orange Bowl. For what it's worth, a Big Ten team has played in the Orange Bowl in three of the last four seasons the Orange Bowl hasn't hosted a CFP semifinal. 
  • The Big Ten's long history with the Citrus Bowl is set to continue as well -- in fact, it will do so in even stronger form. In recent years, the Big Ten and ACC operated an Orange Bowl/Citrus Bowl sharing situation in which the Citrus Bowl would take an ACC team in years where the Orange Bowl selected a Big Ten team. Going forward that won't be the case -- the Citrus Bowl is returning to its exclusive partnerships with the Big Ten and SEC. The Citrus Bowl will have dibs on the top teams from the SEC and Big Ten outside of the SEC and B1G teams selected by the CFP (and, presumably, the CFP-affiliated bowls). 
  • The Big Ten's very long history with the Outback Bowl is also set to continue, so Iowa fans can look forward to continued January trips to Tampa and battles for the honor of coconut shrimp. 
  • The Pinstripe Bowl is one of the bowls whose contract wasn't set to expire after the upcoming season, but there's no indication that the Big Ten is interested in ending its relationship with the Pinstripe Bowl. Playing a bowl game in New York City continues to align well with the league's east coast ambitions. The Pinstripe Bowl will remain a Tier 2 bowl under the new contracts, eligible to select a Big Ten team after the Rose, Orange (if applicable), Citrus, and Outback Bowls have already done so. 
  • The Big Ten has added relationships with the Las Vegas and Belk Bowls as part of the new cycle of bowl contracts. In 2020, 2022, and 2024, a Big Ten team will play an ACC opponent in the Belk Bowl. In 2021, 2023, and 2025, a Big Ten team will play a Pac-12 opponent in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl is expected to move into the Oakland Las Vegas Raiders' new stadium, which is currently under construction. That move should give the Las Vegas Bowl a slightly higher profile; if nothing else, it will provide midwesterners an excuse to visit Las Vegas in late December, which ought to go over well among Big Ten fanbases. The Belk Bowl is in the less-exciting environment of Bank of America Stadium (home of the Carolina Panthers) in Charlotte, NC -- but the Belk Bowl does have a tremendous social media presence, so hey. 
  • The Big Ten has also adjusted its relationship with the Music City and TaxSlayer Bowls. Previously the Big Ten and ACC split appearances in those bowls over a six-year span. As of 2020, the Big Ten is ditching the TaxSlayer Bowl and will have an exclusive partnership with the Music City Bowl. This is a win-win situation all around. Nashville is a far more entertaining city to visit than Jacksonville and if this means Iowa never has to return to the site of the HawkSlayer debacle, hooray. 
  • The Big Ten will be retaining its partnership with the Redbox Bowl (formerly known as the Foster Farms Bowl), because the league just can't get enough of playing in soulless professional football stadiums in front of almost-nonexistent crowds. Keep enjoying those trips to the "Bay Area," Big Ten fans! 
  • The Big Ten is also making some changes among its lowest-tier bowl partnerships. Out are First Responder and Armed Forces Bowl, which split Big Ten representation -- though Big Ten teams rarely actually ever played in those bowls. No Big Ten has yet played in the Armed Forces Bowl during the current agreement, while just one Big Ten team has played in the First Responder Bowl during the current agreement (Illinois in 2014; they lost to Louisiana Tech). Replacing those bowls is the mighty CHEEZ-IT BOWL. Will a Big Ten team actually play in that bowl? I'd imagine that depends on where exactly it slots into the pecking order -- and whether more teams near the bottom of the Big Ten can manage to improve enough to get to six wins. (Lookin' at you, Illinois. And you too, Rutgers.)
  • The Big Ten's other lowest-tier bowl partner, the Quick Lane Bowl, will continue as a Big Ten tie-in as well because you'll have to tear the Big Ten out of Detroit over the league's cold, dead hands. The Big Ten has actually been a regular participant in the Detroit bowl since 2014, though -- Big Ten teams have appeared in four of the last five Quick Lane Bowls, winning three of those games (only Maryland failed to contribute to Big Ten glory, losing to Boston College in 2016). 
  • The biggest casualty of the Big Ten's new bowl partnerships is clearly the Holiday Bowl, which will no longer have a Big Ten tie-in after the 2019 season. That's a shame, given that it's in San Diego (a very desirable destination for midwestern fans seeking to escape winter) and Iowa's own storied history in the game. It also adds a little extra sting to the fact that Iowa went to the Outback Bowl (again) last year, instead of making their first trip to the Holiday Bowl since 1991. 

Again, these bowl lineup changes won't take effect until after the 2020 season, which is still 18 months away. But change is still on the way and for the most part it looks like good news for Iowa fans traveling to bowl games in the coming years. 

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