By Adam Hoge-
(CBS) The Big Ten might be out of the national title hunt, but the conference still benefitted from this weekend’s BCS craziness.
With LSU and Alabama both projected to go to the BCS National Championship, an extra at-large berth opened up for Michigan, which beat Nebraska Saturday. The Fiesta Bowl has the first at-large selection and I still see them taking Stanford, but the Sugar Bowl should follow up by taking Michigan.
With two Big Ten teams earning a BCS berth, the rest of the conference will get bumped up a bowl, which is good news for Illinois, the last team I have earning a bowl berth.
Here’s how the bowl lineup shakes up this week in my mind:
Rose Bowl – Wisconsin vs. Oregon
I still like the Badgers in a rematch against the Spartans on a neutral field, but as we get closer to the actual game, I tend to like the Spartans more. Considering the Badgers still have to beat Penn State, we can worry about that next week.
Sugar Bowl – Michigan vs Houston
Greg Mattison has done an unbelievable job with Michigan’s defense this season, but his unit would be tested big time against Houston’s Case Keenum.
Capital One Bowl – Nebraska vs Arkansas
After losing Michigan to the BCS, the Capital One Bowl will likely look farther west than East Lansing to find their next target. The Spartans played in this bowl last season and Florida Citrus Sports (which oversees both the Capital One Bowl and Champs Sports Bowl) would love to host Nebraska’s fan base to end their first season in the Big Ten.
Outback Bowl – Michigan State vs South Carolina
The Spartans instead head to Tampa to set up an intriguing matchup with two good defenses.
Insight Bowl – Penn State vs Baylor
With the Nittany Lions’ win over Ohio State, it will make it tougher for any bowl to ignore Penn State despite the scandal. The Buckeyes could finish 6-6, making it really hard to justify taking them over the 9-3 Lions. Iowa went to Tempe last season so I don’t see the Insight taking the Hawkeyes either.
Gator Bowl – Ohio State vs Florida
Sure, Iowa might have one more win than Ohio State, but come on, look at this matchup. There are reports Urban Meyer will take the Buckeye job before the end of the month. That doesn’t mean he will actually coach the bowl game, but it’s still a matchup against his former team. No way the Gator Bowl passes on that.
Meineke Car Car Bowl of Texas – Iowa vs Texas
Iowa falls to Houston where it could be playing a virtual road game against the Longhorns.
TicketCity Bowl – Purdue vs Iowa State
I see Purdue heading to the Cotton Bowl (that’s where this bowl game is played) because Northwestern went there last season and the Boilermaker fan base will be hungry for their first bowl game since 2007.
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl – Northwestern vs Northern Illinois
The Wildcats fall to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit where organizers would love to set up a fun matchup with Northern Illinois. NU Athletic Director Jim Phillips of course came to Evanston via DeKalb. Good chance 100-plus points would be scored in this matchup.
New Mexico Bowl – Illinois vs San Diego State
It’s very hard to predict where Illinois will end up because the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl is the Big Ten’s last bowl tie-in, but New Mexico is certainly a possibility.
Adam is the Sports Content Producer for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.