A larger Big Ten with the addition of Maryland and Rutgers means more bowl games. In 2011 the conference sent a record 10 teams to bowl games with two making the BCS and Illinois even grabbing the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl as an at large team available at 6-6. Recently, the bowl agreements that begin after the 2014 season have been announced and it looks like the conference slate is almost set. There are now 11 known affiliations for nine slots each year through 2019. Here are the destinations for coach Hazell's charges following next season.
Rose Bowl - Pasadena, California vs. Pac-12 - As always, the Big Ten is continuing its tradition with the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day along with the Pac-12. Every three years the Rose Bowl will serve as a semifinal for the College Football playoff starting in 2014, so the Big Ten champion will either be there as a part of said playoff or in the old fashioned Rose Bowl in years where it is not part of the rotation and the Big Ten champ is not part of the playoff. In years where the Rose Bowl is a National Semifinal it won't be a guaranteed Big Ten-Pac-12 matchup.
If a Big Ten team is not in the semifinal played in the Rose Bowl the conference winner will head to Miami to play in the Orange Bowl.
Capitol One Bowl - Orlando, Florida vs. SEC - The current No. 2 bowl likely stay as the No. 2 slot and will be the top non-playoff affiliated bowl. The former Citrus bowl has one of the longest affiliations with the Big Ten. A team from the Big Ten has played int his bowl every year since 1993. Since this is against the SEC it will always be against a pretty good team and it is one of the featured games on New Year's Day.
Purdue lost the 2004 Capitol One Bowl to the Georgia Bulldogs 34-27 in overtime.
Outback Bowl - Tampa, Florida vs. SEC - This is another bowl game that has been relatively stable over time as kind of a Capitol One Bowl-lite. It is still on New Year's Day and against the SEC, but it comes from the third selections and almost always has an SEC East team. The last time it wasn't a Big Ten-SEC affair was 1994 when Duke of all teams played Wisconsin.
Purdue has only been here once, losing the 2000 Outback Bowl 28-25 to Georgia in overtime after blowing a 25-0 lead.
Holiday Bowl - San Diego, California vs. Pac-12 - This is the first non-New Year's Day Bowl and arguably the best one not on that day. It has been Big 12-Pac-12 for awhile but the Big Ten will return in 2014 after a long absence. It was a regular destination for the Big Ten from 1986-1994, or as we know it at Purdue, "The Dark Times". Michigan was the last team from the Big Ten to play here, doing so in 1994 when it beat Colorado State.
Purdue never played in this bowl, but Indiana, Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan, and Penn State have won it.
Gator Bowl or Music City Bowl - Jacksonville, Florida or Nashville, Tennessee vs. TBD - This is where it gets a little confusing. The Gator Bowl is another New Year's Day Bowl, giving four in the top five, but the Big Ten will actually rotate with the ACC in sending teams to these games. In place of playing each other these two bowls will provide an opponent for a team from either conference. In some years the Big Ten will go to Nashville and the ACC to Jacksonville, while in other years it will be the opposite. I can see it being the No. 5 slot for the conference based on bowl prestige.
Purdue has never played in either bowl game. Northwestern was the first Big Ten team in 22 years to win the Gator Bowl last season, while the Big Ten has had Minnesota win the Music City Bowl twice.
Heart of Dallas Bowl or Armed Forces Bowl - Dallas or Fort Worth, Texas vs. TBD - This sixth agreement was announced today and is also on a rotational basis. The Heart of Dallas Bowl, or Fake Cotton Bowl since it is played in the Cotton bowl on New Year's Day and the real Cotton Bowl is at Jerry World, is currently one of the Big Ten's affiliated bowls against Conference USA or Big 12 (they rotate). Going forward the Big Ten does not have a definite opponent in either game, but will rotate between the two through 2019.
Purdue has yet to play in the Armed Forces Bowl and was thumped 58-14 this past year by the Oklahoma St. Cowboys when it was the Big 12's turn to rotate in place of Conference USA.
Pinstripe Bowl - New York City, New York vs. ACC - The seventh possible bowl is a brand new affiliation for the Big Ten and will be played at Yankee Stadium. Nothing says "reward for a great season" like being sent to the South Bronx to play at a baseball stadium against an ACC team in late December. The Florida bowls have nothing on this game. I really hope this becomes the permanent home for Rutgers once they join.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl - San Francisco, California vs. Pac-12 - Another late December bowl game in a baseball stadium (AT&T Park, home of the Giants), but at least this one is in more temperate San Francisco. This has been called the Emerald Bowl, the San Francisco Bowl, and the Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl. Starting in 2014 it will move to the new stadium being built for the 49ers in Santa Clara.
Illinois is the only team to play in this bowl game, beating UCLA 20-14 in 2011 where both coaches were fired, Illinois came in having lost six straight, and UCLA needed a waiver after finishing 6-7 and losing the Pac-12 title game since USC was ineligible. And they say there are too many bowls!
Mystery Detroit Bowl - Detroit, Michigan vs. TBD - The ninth and final (for now) bowl agreement signed by the Big Ten keeps Detroit's Ford Field in the fold for many years to come. This is not the Little Caesar's Bowl, which is getting kicked out of Ford Field and may move across the street to Comerica Park (because New York for outdoor football in December was too sunny?) if it stays alive. Yes, Purdue can return to the site of its last two bowl wins over directional Michigan schools and visit beautiful downtown Detroit, home of the frozen urban hellscape of the first major American city to declare bankruptcy.
At least Canada is across the river. Poutine for all!
With these agreements the conference is guaraunteed to have nine bowl slots filled as long as it has nine eligible teams. That will likely be easy until the 2016 season when a non-conference patsy of a game is lost to the new nine-game schedule, but at least the league has Rutgers and Maryland to kick around in addition to Illinois and Indiana. Purdue gets three of those four on each of the first two nine-game schedules so the recipe for a bowl is beat them, win the two non-Notre Dame non-conference games, and surely we can find a win somewhere else!
Seriously though, it is my hope we're never clamoring for Detroit again after this season with coach Hazell. Getting this year means we did well against a very tough schedule. After that, not so much. May Detroit never be mentioned again in terms of a viable destination for a bowl game in West Lafayette.
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