No surprises last weekend as every Big Ten team that was favored ended up winning. Ohio State once again showed they were the class of the East by beating a surprisingly scrappy Penn State squad, Minnesota handled Northwestern, Jonathan Taylor rushed for a paltry 222 yards in a win over Purdue, Indiana seemed like a trendy squad to beat Michigan until Michigan slapped them in the face, and Michigan State and Nebraska throttled Rutgers and Maryland.
Some quick Rutgers facts: Rutgers has been shut out in four conference games and been outscored 328-45 in Big Ten play. They are averaging 5.63 points per game in the Big Ten, worse than the 1981 Northwestern Wildcats, arguably the worst football team in modern history, who averaged 8.3. They still have to play Penn State, a team that has outscored them 122-16 over the past four seasons. This Rutgers team could very well take the throne of the worst Power 5 team in modern history, as that Northwestern team at least played Arkansas and Utah out of conference. Rutgers played UMass (one of the worst teams in college football history, period) and Liberty.
Maryland hasn’t been much better, beating only Rutgers this season, along with a Syracuse squad that is now 4-7. The Terps have never had a winning conference record in the Big Ten and haven’t had a winning season overall since their inaugural year in the Big Ten, 2014.
Great adds, Jim Delany.
This final week of conference play leaves two teams with something to play for: Michigan State and Nebraska. The Spartans are fortunate enough to close out their season at home against Maryland. Should they win, they’ll be bowling. Same goes for Nebraska, who sits at 5-6. Unfortunately, Nebraska doesn’t get to play Maryland, they get to play Iowa, a team that is currently on a four-game winning streak against Nebraska and has a significantly better defense than the Terrapins.
Going Bowling: Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois.
No Bowl 4 U: Maryland, Rutgers, Purdue, Northwestern.
Wait and See: Nebraska, Michigan State.
Hey, weird question: Is Northwestern the first team in college football history to win their division one season and then go winless in conference play the next year? That’s a fun research topic!
Let’s talk bowls.
The Big Bowl Game Refresher Course:
- Four teams are chosen for the College Football Playoff and six bowls rotate for the semifinals: Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, and Peach. The bowls hosting the semifinals this year are the Peach and Fiesta. The National Championship will be played in the Superdome, NOLA, on January 13th.
- As the Rose Bowl is not hosting a semifinal, if the Big Ten Champion is selected for the College Football Playoff, the next highest ranked team by the CFB Playoff Committee, or the runner-up, will be selected for the Rose Bowl.
- The highest-ranked champion from the Group of Five mid-majors (AAC, C-USA, MAC, MWC, Sun Belt) is guaranteed a spot in the non-playoff bowls if they fail to make the playoff.
- The Big Ten has a six-year contract with the eight non-playoff bowl games (through this season). The Big Ten has an eight-year contract with the Pinstripe Bowl (through 2021).
- I used to say that the Big Ten has a tiered selection process when it comes to selecting teams but I don’t really believe that anymore. Basically, the bowls will choose whoever they want. If you want to rank them in “respectability” you could say: 1) Rose, 2) Orange, 3) Citrus, 4) Holiday, Outback, 5) Pinstripe, Music City/TaxSlayer, and Redbox, 6) Quick Lane and First Responder (formerly known as the Heart of Dallas Bowl)/Armed Forces.
- As the Orange Bowl is not hosting a Playoff semifinal, a Big Ten team will be eligible, but not guaranteed to play in Miami.
- Iowa has played in the following bowls since 2010: Insight, Outback, TaxSlayer, Rose, Outback, Pinstripe, Outback.
Now, the following could be considered “rules” or they could be considered “goals” for bowl games. It isn’t clear whether or not these things are contractual or not. With that explanation given, here are some Iowa-centric “rules”:
- Iowa technically cannot play in the Outback Bowl following this season. The agreement called for five different teams over a period of six years. Only four teams have played in the Outback Bowl during that timeframe: Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern, and Wisconsin.
- Dr. Hawks (great name) brought it to my attention that the Music City Bowl and TaxSlayer Bowl agreement stipulates that three Big Ten teams and three ACC teams are to play over a six-year period (which ends following this season). Three Big Ten teams have already played in the Music City Bowl, so it looks like the Music City should be an ACC bowl game this season.
- If that’s the case, the TaxSlayer Bowl would be a Big Ten game. However, no Big Ten team is to play in the TaxSlayer or Music City Bowl more than once during the term of the agreement. As Iowa played in 2015, they would not be eligible to play in the TaxSlayer Bowl again.
- The Holiday Bowl has met its five-team “quota” so they can choose whoever they want.
- The Pinstripe Bowl has a “goal” of eight different teams in eight years and they’re actually on track with zero repeats since 2014. At the very least, they must have six different teams and as they’ve had five, they’ve got a lot of room to choose whoever they can get.
ESPN (Kyle Bonagura): Holiday, vs. Arizona State
People are either talking Holiday (yes please) or Gator (please no), which again, I'm not even sure Iowa can play in. There's also this, regarding the Gator Bowl:
Gary Barta on pregame radio: Just a reminder to Hawk fans, we wont be going back to Jacksonsville (Gator Bowl). And we wont be going back to the Outback Bowl.— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) November 23, 2019
Citrus isn't completely ruled out, per the Iowa AD.
This Citrus Bowl scenario is a bit difficult to explain. Per Wikipedia: When not hosting a semifinal, the Capital One Orange Bowl will select the highest-ranked team from the Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame to face an ACC opponent. The Big Ten Champion cannot play in the Orange Bowl. If a Big Ten team is not selected by the Orange Bowl, the Citrus Bowl will submit a request for a Big Ten team.
Assuming LSU, Ohio State and Clemson all hold their top spots, the fourth spot will come down to Alabama, Utah…or Oklahoma? Alabama could sneak in (which is BS), if LSU beats #4 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, which they’ll likely do. Utah could do the same as the champion of the Pac-12. And who knows, maybe Oklahoma could jump them all by winning the Big 12?
If the scenario exists where Alabama and Georgia miss the playoff, I still see them being ahead of any Big Ten team, so they’ll likely be heading to the Orange Bowl. If that’s the case, the Citrus can ask for a non-NY6 Big Ten team. With Minnesota and Wisconsin hovering around 10, the question will be whether or not the loser will drop out of the top 12. If they do, that team could be heading to the Citrus Bowl. Penn State won’t go Citrus because they’ll either be top 12 or they won’t get selected as they played in the Citrus Bowl last season.
With that, Wisconsin/Minnesota, Michigan or your Iowa Hawkeyes all have a decent shot at the Citrus Bowl.