It's the night that the Big Ten has been dreading as the conference's bowl season opens up with Minnesota taking on Texas Tech in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. With Ohio State and Penn State having to sit out of the postseason this year and a 8-5 Wisconsin team earning the Big Ten's Rose Bowl berth, some teams are playing well-ahead of what should have been their bowl selection (i.e. Purdue playing Oklahoma State on New Year's Day).
How bad could things get for the Big Ten? Well, Vegas doesn't list any team as favorites to win their bowl. Northwestern is listed as a pick 'em against Mississippi State. Let's take a quick look at each game and the B1G's chances in each.
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
Minnesota vs. Texas Tech
The Golden Gophers started 4-0 and then dropped six of their last eight to meet the minimum requirement to go bowling. Tech will be coached by offensive line coach Chris Thomsen after Tommy Tuberville hitchhiked out of Lubbock to take the Cincinnati job. Seth Doege still leads an explosive Red Raider offense though and they should still have what it takes to dispose of Minnesota.
B1G Chances: 3/10
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
TCU vs. Michigan State
First one to thirteen might win this game as both offense have been anemic at times this season. The first year of the Andrew Maxwell era didn't go as planned for the Spartans. Good for them that Le'Veon Bell came to play all season long, running for 1,648 yards and 11 touchdowns. TCU, on the other hand, had an up-and-down year, losing to Iowa State while beating West Virginia and Texas on the road. The loss of quarterback Casey Pachall early on in the season due to expulsion didn't help things.
B1G Chances: 4.5/10
Mississippi State vs. Northwestern
Mississippi State started off 7-0 and then the wheels fell off, getting blown out by Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU in consecutive weeks. Pat Fitzgerald has led Northwestern to another bowl game during his tenure and boasts maybe the most versatile player in the nation in Venric Mark. This is the only game I feel confident in the Big Ten winning.
B1G Chances: 8/10
Heart of Dallas Bowl
Oklahoma State vs. Purdue
B1G Chances: .1/10
South Carolina vs. Michigan
Denard Robinson will be playing his final collegiate football game on New Year's Day. We just don't know where he'll play as Devin Gardner has entrenched himself as the Wolverine quarterback after Robinson pinched a nerve in his arm a few weeks ago. Robinson played running back at the end of the year with moderate success and with Fitz Toussiant out, it might end where he plays against the Gamecocks. Connor Shaw comes back to the South Carolina line-up after missing the season-ending game against Clemson and Jadaveon Clowney might dismember Gardner/Robinson/both.
B1G Chances: 4/10
Capital One Bowl
Georgia vs. Nebraska
Now, I know that the layoff before bowl games plays a part in taking away the momentum a team might have at the end of the regular season, but the last time we saw these teams play, Georgia was a minute away from beating Alabama and Nebraska gave up 70 points to Wisconsin. Also, Georgia was the best overall SEC team this year, no matter what the polls say.
B1G Chances: 3.5/10
Stanford vs. Wisconsin
With Bert leaving for Arkansas, the Rose Bowl legend Barry Alvarez has decided to come back to the sidelines to coach the Badgers and hopefully gain the fourth Rose Bowl victory of his career. Montee Ball and James White might find it difficult to run as freely as they did against Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship, though, as Stanford has the best front-seven in the nation (holding Kenjon Barner to 66 yards in their victory over Oregon) and a quarterback in Kevin Hogan who has gone 5-0 since taking over in the Colorado game on Nov. 3rd. Wisconsin has lost the last two years in the Rose Bowl and I see a third loss coming their way as well.
B1G Chances: 3/10
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