IT'S BOWL SEASON Y'ALL. Everything is great. Bowl season is great. Football is great. You are great. I love you.
Bowl season rules because it literally means you get to roll yourself out of bed at noon during your week off from work (if you're fortunate enough to get one), sit on your couch, and watch college athletes play the silliest football games in the silliest locations brought to you by the silliest sponsors. For proof, go back and look at last year's Popeye's Bahamas Bowl, which: 1) Was sponsored by Popeye's, 2) Was in the Bahamas, 3) Was the best game of the 2014-15 bowl season.
To honor the silliness and funness (NOTE: not a word) of bowl season, we decided to rank all of the Big Ten's matchups. There are a total of 10, and all biases are aside in the rankings (biases are not put aside, however, in the short write-ups of all of the games).
1. Fiesta Bowl – Ohio State vs. Notre Dame
In terms of pure, concentrated evil, this is the worst game of bowl season. In terms of actually entertaining football, this game is going to rule. This very well could be the most evenly-matched game that we'll see this postseason – according to SB Nation's Bill Connelly, it is tied for the most even game with the CFP semifinal game between Clemson and Oklahoma – plus it features some of my favorite players to watch in the sport. Ezekiel Elliott gets to eat against Notre Dame's ok rushing defense, while the Buckeyes' stout passing defense has to deal with Will Fuller. Add in that Joey Bosa and Jaylon Smith are both terrifying human beings on the defensive side of the ball and we're going to have a lot of fun while we watch this...as long as we disregard the uniforms being worn.
As an aside: this game is sponsored by BattleFrog now. I have no idea what BattleFrog is but BATTLEFROG.
2. Cotton Bowl – Michigan State vs. Alabama
MANBALL MANBALL MANBALL. Do you like fullbacks and tight ends and teams busting off 11-play drives averaging 4.5 yards per play? Well then, I have just the game for you. This is going to be one of those games where you watch, and you feel like a lot is happening, but then you look up at the scoreboard and see that Alabama's winning 10-7 and there's like 1:40 left in the third quarter. It's just going to be ugly, smash-mouth football, the kind of football that people who hate teams like Baylor love to watch. The best part is that this is the late New Year's Eve game and it will be over in, like, 2.5 hours because it's just gonna be a lotta runnin' and short throwin'. It should be a blast.
3. Rose Bowl – Iowa vs. Stanford
pls take everything in the previous section and replace "Alabama" with "Stanford," and change "late New Year's Eve game" to "late-afternoon New Year's Day" game thx.
4. Pinstripe Bowl – Indiana vs. Duke
This game is legitimately going to be awesome. I love this Indiana team and its general disregard of anything that doesn't involve scoring, I also love how its QB (Nate Sudfeld) and RB (Jordan Howard) are both legitimately good football players and not just good for being on Indiana. They're going up against Duke, which kind of flew under the radar this year, which is weird, because 7-5 for the Blue Devils is usually considered great for the program. The chess match between Sudfeld and Duke safety Jeremy Cash will be fascinating, as will watching the special teams portion of this game, as both kickers (Ross Martin and Griffin Oakes for Duke and IU, respectively) are outstanding. The Blue Devils also have a wonderful return man in former Black Shoe Diaries hot take writer and safety DeVon Edwards.
5. Holiday Bowl – Wisconsin vs. USC
Hey, this game will be kinda fun. It features maybe my favorite unit vs. unit matchup of all the bowls: Wisconsin's really good passing defense vs. USC's passing offense that has the ability to blow the doors off of anyone when it's clicking. Wisconsin's rushing defense (really good!) going up against USC's rushing offense (perfectly fine!) should be fun, especially if Ronald Jones and Justin Davis can really get going against the Badgers. Wisconsin's meh offense vs. USC's meh defense should provide for some moments, plus this is the 10:30 p.m. game the day after Christmas, so you know something silly's going to happen.
6. Foster Farms Bowl – Nebraska vs. UCLA
I hate that this is happening, because Nebraska is 5-7 and that's weird and I don't like change. But I do like watching a lot of football, so whatever. All things considered, though, this game should be pretty good. The Huskers were college football's most unlucky team in terms of wins and losses, as they lost five games by a combined 13 points, which seems impossible. UCLA has a ton of talent, but there have been some killer injuries over the course of the year, namely OLB/RB/general horrifying person Myles Jack, cornerback Fabian Moreau, and defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes. The guys they have left – Josh Rosen! Paul Perkins! – are fun, and should make for a good football game against a Nebraska team that really needs some good thing to happen to it.
7. Outback Bowl – Northwestern vs. Tennessee
These are two teams that are capable of doing some great things, but more often than not, they prefer to get into really ugly matchups. It's an underachieving but ultra-talented Vols squad that should be way better than their record suggests going up against a scrappy, overachieving group of Wildcats that have no business being as good as they are. Both teams possess QBs who are capable of doing some awesome stuff (Clayton Thorson and Joshua Dobbs), both teams have a really solid running back (Justin Jackson and Jalen Hurd), and both defenses are pretty swell. This will be a really nice football game. I like really nice football games. I do not like really, really ugly football games. Hey, on that note...
8. Citrus Bowl – Michigan vs. Florida
This is going to be a really, really ugly football game. Michigan has a solid offense and Florida has a really good defense, so it's fair to assume that this matchup will be interesting and ugly. The other side of the ball though, that's booty. Michigan has an awesome defense. Florida has a pretty not good offense, especially with Treon Harris under center. When the Gators played Florida State, the Seminoles' offense scored two points for Florida. That's more than Florida's offense scored for Florida. This could end up being a good game, but it has "500 yards of combined offense" written all over it.
9. TaxSlayer Bowl – Penn State vs. Georgia
From a Penn State fan perspective, I can't wait to watch this. From a college football fan in 2015 perspective, woof. This matchup won't be aesthetically pleasing in any way, as it's two pretty good defenses against two pretty not good offenses. At least these are two offenses that will struggle going up against these two defenses, so I suppose you could look at it like that. But watching (maybe) Christian Hackenberg's final game will be fun, I have zero idea what to expect out of a Ricky Rahne-led offense or a Bryan McClendon-led Georgia team, and of course, any football game that Saquon Barkley plays in is appointment viewing to some extent. Still, this game could be similar to Michigan/Florida in terms of the score and amount of offense we see from both teams.
10. Quick Lane Bowl – Minnesota vs. Central Michigan
Both of these are perfectly fine football things. Minnesota is ok, Central Michigan is ok, this game should be ok. CMU has a pretty good quarterback in Cooper Rush, so that should be fun, but still. This game is going to just be ok, which is the fun thing about bowl season: games that are just ok are extra fun, and for some reason, those are the games that end up being, like, 38-37 because some team went for two in the first quarter for no reason.