With less than a month left in the regular season (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), it's time to start looking ahead towards bowl season. I mean, not the team, but us fans. Penn State is still in line for a BCS game, but they'll need to win the B1G Championship to get there, as a third loss would almost certainly remove them from at-large consideration.
The Big Ten has tie-ins with eight bowls. They are as follows, and include the opposing tie-in.
1. Rose Bowl (vs. Pac-12/BCS)
2. Citrus Bowl* (vs. SEC 2)
3. Outback Bowl (vs. SEC 3/4)
4/5. Gator Bowl (vs. SEC 6)
4/5. Insight Bowl (vs. Big 12 4)
6. Meineke Car Care Bowl (vs. Big 12 6)
7. TicketCity Bowl (vs. C-USA/Big 12 8)
8. Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (vs. MAC 1/2)
Just from a rough estimation, Penn State could finish anywhere from 1st to 6th in the conference at this point.
For all intents and purposes, the conference champion will play Oregon in the Rose Bowl. After that, the likely matchup for Big Ten bowl teams will be SEC teams. Those teams (for now) are:
1. LSU 10-0 (6-0)
2. Alabama 9-1 (6-1)
3. Georgia 8-2 (6-1)
4. Arkansas 9-1 (5-1)
5. South Carolina 8-2 (6-2)
6. Auburn 6-4 (4-3)
7. Florida 5-5 (3-5)
8. Vanderbilt 5-5 (2-5)
At this point, it's a fairly safe assumption that the SEC will get two teams into the BCS in the form of LSU and Alabama. After the BCS teams are removed, the Cotton Bowl and Citrus Bowl* have their pick, generally with the highest team left in the SEC West going to the Cotton Bowl, and the highest from the East going to the Citrus Bowl. That doesn't always happen, but it usually does. For now, the way it looks to play out is Arkansas would go to the Cotton Bowl, Georgia would go to the Citrus Bowl, South Carolina would go to the Outback Bowl, and Florida would go to the Gator Bowl (IT'S FUNNY BECAUSE THEY'RE THE GATORS). Florida isn't bowl eligible yet, but will get there when they beat Furman this week.
If Penn State doesn't face a SEC in a bowl this year, they will play a team from the Big 12. Their standings look like this right now.
1. Oklahoma State 10-0 (7-0)
2. Oklahoma 8-1 (5-1)
3. Kansas State 8-2 (5-2)
4. Baylor 6-3 (3-3)
5. Texas 6-3 (3-3)
6. Missouri 5-5 (3-4)
7. Texas A&M 5-5 (3-4)
8. Iowa State 5-4 (2-4)
9. Texas Tech 5-5 (2-5)
10. Kansas 2-8 (0-7)
If both Oklahoma schools make it to the BCS, the picks would slide down to spots in the standings, meaning Penn State would be in line to play the 6th and 8th ranked teams instead of the 4th and 6th. Only five teams in the Big 12 are currently bowl eligible, but Missouri, A&M and Texas Tech all figure to get there. Iowa State still has to play Oklahoma State, at Oklahoma, and at Kansas State, so I doubt they'll get to six wins.
So as of now, Penn State's potential opponents are as follows:
South Carolina (Outback)
Texas Tech (Meineke Car Care)
What do you think? Obviously we all want Penn State to win out, but of those potential opponents, who would you want a piece of the most?
*I don't care if it's called the Capital One Bowl now. It's a dumb name and #CitrusBowl4Life.