The Big 10 currently has four teams inside the AP's Top 25. One of those teams, the conference champion, will obviously play in the Rose Bowl. In all likelihood, no Big 10 team will have a legitimate shot at reaching the BCS championship, so the remaining question for the conference is this: Will it be able to sneak a second team into a BCS game?
Although it's no secret that BCS games favor Big 10 teams because the schools' fanbases travel notoriously well, SB Nation's Bill Connelly currently projects that the Big 10 will not land an at-large BCS big in 2011. Connelly has the Wisconsin Badgers as the Big 10 champions, taking on the Oregon Ducks in a Rose Bowl match up that would pit Wisconsin's smash mouth philosophy up against Oregon's spread-and-slash offense. So, who would those two at-large bids go to? Well, at the moment, Connelly projects that one will be Boise State— who would likely get an automatic at-large bid based on their finish in the BCS standings— and that the other, maybe surprisingly, would be Oklahoma State, who would take on ex-coach Les Miles and LSU in the Sugar Bowl.
It's not a travesty for Big 10 fans though, as the conference is lined up for marquee post-New Year's Day bowl games regardless of what happens in the BCS. Here are Connelly's projected match ups for the eight Big Ten teams expected to make a bowl game.
- Wisconsin Badgers vs. Oregon Ducks (Rose Bowl, Jan. 2)
- Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Florida Gators (Progressive Gator Bowl, Jan. 2)
- Michigan State vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (Capital One Bowl, Jan. 2)
- Michigan Wolverines vs. Georgia Bulldogs (Outback Bowl, Jan. 2)
- Ohio State Buckeyes vs. SMU Mustangs (TicketCity Bowl Jan. 2)
- Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Missouri Tigers (Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, Dec. 31)
- Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Texas Longhorns (Insight Bowl, Dec. 30)
- Purdue Boilermakers vs. Northern Illinois Salukis (Little Ceasers Pizza Bowl, Dec. 27)