Illinois trounced Northwestern on Saturday and with its sixth win, became bowl-eligible. Northwestern seemed possibly headed to a New Year's Day bowl before its crushing defeat. There are a number of possibilities for Big Ten teams to go bowling, especially with three teams -- Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State -- all currently tied at the top of the Big Ten standings at 6-1 going into the season's final week and with Wisconsin and Ohio State ranked seventh and eighth in the BCS standings.
Got all that? Okay, class, let's move on to the bowl schedule and see what teams are likely to go to various tropical destinations a month from now. These could change, of course, after next weekend's games.
Little Caesars Bowl, Dec. 26, Detroit: Northwestern vs. Northern Illinois. We did say "tropical", but Detroit's only tropical in the summer. This could be a really interesting matchup of in-state schools; NIU will be the automatic qualifier if they beat Ohio University in the MAC championship game.
Insight Bowl, Dec. 28, Tempe, Arizona: Penn State vs. Oklahoma. One thing for certain: it will be warmer in Tempe than it will be in Detroit.
Texas Bowl, Dec. 29, Houston: Michigan vs. Baylor.
Gator Bowl, Jan. 1, Jacksonville: Michigan State vs. Arkansas
TicketCity Bowl, Jan. 1, Dallas: Illinois vs. Texas Tech. This is the one that used to be (for a whole year!) called the Dallas Classic, played in the Cotton Bowl. The Cotton Bowl game itself is now played in Cowboys Stadium. And since it's being sponsored by a ticket broker, just how much will it cost to attend?
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1, Tampa: Ohio State, Iowa or Wisconsin vs. Florida.
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1, Orlando: Ohio State, Iowa or Wisconsin vs. Alabama. This assumes that Alabama loses the SEC championship game -- if they win, Auburn will play here. This will be so much easier to nail down earlier next year when there is a Big Ten title game.
Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, Pasadena: Ohio State, Iowa or Wisconsin vs. Boise State or TCU. The Big Ten champion gets one slot here; the other is a BCS at-large selection that looks headed toward Boise State or TCU, but if Oregon falters, they could wind up here and make this an old fashioned Big Ten vs. Pac-10 matchup.