I got a lot of questions on where Purdue will play in the postseason now that it is eligible, so I thought I would post a quick entry outlining the various destinations and places the Boilers could play. Now that the regular season is over The Big Ten has seven eligible teams for eight bowls that it has contracts with. This means that Purdue is 100% guaranteed to play SOMEWHERE in late December or early January. Penn State and Ohio State would be eligible if not for their varying sanctions.
This helps Purdue, actually. If the Big Ten had nine eligible teams there is a very good chance that Purdue could be left out of even Detroit, but there are currently 70 bowl eligible teams for 70 bowl slots across the country and only three more teams can get to eligibility, so even then we'd likely be headed somewhere. Plus, in this hypothetical scenario Ohio State would almost certainly be a BCS team win or lose vs. Nebraska in the B1G title game, so the conference getting two BCS teams would move everyone up one and we would head back to Detroit.
But that is NOT the case. As I said, there are seven eligible teams for eight bowls. We're obviously not headed to Pasadena, so let's take care of some of the top bowls right now:
Rose Bowl: The winner between Nebraska and Wisconsin in Indianapolis
At large BCS bowl: There is a very small chance the BCS will select Nebraska if it loses the Big Ten title game because it has a huge traveling fan base. There are four at large spots, but one will be taken by Notre Dame, a second by an SEC team, and a third likely by an 11-1 Oregon team that cannot play int he Pac-12 title game. That leaves one spot.
The extreme wild card here is Kent State. The Golden Flashes were No. 23 in last week's BCS standings, but Louisville, Michigan, Rutgers (a team they beat), Oregon State, and Texas all lost ahead of them. If they rise to No. 16, pass Boise State (and could with a quality win over Northern Illinois) and Wisconsin upsets Nebraska, Kent State would steal a BCS bowl bid.
So the chances are pretty small, but it is worth mentioning that Nebraska has a shot if it loses to Wisconsin. That would, of course, move everyone up one slot in the selection order. Nebraska's two losses are to the possible Pac-12 champ and undefeated Ohio State, both on the road.
Capitol One Bowl: Nebraska if it loses to Wisconsin or Michigan if Nebraska goes to Pasadena.
Outback bowl: Northwestern, but Wisconsin may go here as the Big Ten title game loser because they sell a bunch of tickets.
Gator Bowl: Wisconsin. I just don't see the Badgers falling further, specially since there are three 6-6 teams left.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: This is where it gets interesting. They will likely have their pick of three 6-6 teams: Michigan State, Minnesota, and Purdue. Michigan State and Purdue did not play, but Michigan State beat Minnesota, who beat Purdue. Given that MSU had a TON of close games this season, I think they are the best option to go to Tempe for this one.
Meinecke Car Car Bowl of Texas : Now it is down to Minnesota and Purdue. Minnesota has a convincing head-to-head win over Purdue and they are returning after a bowl absence. That means an excited fanbase and tickets sold. If it is down to Minnesota and Purdue here I think the Gophers are picked, but Purdue could be picked because it did have a better conference record and won its last three games while Minnesota lost its last three.
Heart of Dallas Bowl: This is Purdue's worst case scenario and where I think we'll end up.
Who would Purdue play?
The Boilers are almost assuredly going to play a Big 12 team no matter where we end up because the last three bowls are all paired against Big 12 teams. Nine of the 10 teams in the Big 12 are bowl eligible, so they will have enough teams available even for the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Therefore, I can say with about 99.9% certainty that we will face a Big 12 team, because there is almost no chance we will go as high as the Gator Bowl and face an SEC team.
This is where it gets a little tricky. The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl has their No. 4 selection, the Meinecke Care Care Bowl the sixth, and the Heart of Dallas the eighth.There is also a decent chance that Oklahoma will be a BCS at large team if it beats TCU this coming week and finishes 10-2 with losses to Kansas State and Notre Dame. Again, that would move everyone up one spot.
In the unlikely event we head to Tempe it will probably mean a game against Oklahoma State or TCU. The Cotton Bowl is the Big 12's No. 2 bowl and they will want to grab Texas for a Texas-Texas A&M game regardless of what happens to Oklahoma. That puts the Sooners at No. 3 at worst, with Ok. St. and TCU next up.
For the game in Houston we're probably looking at Texas Tech or West Virginia. They are currently sixth and seventh int he Big 12 standings, respectively.
Since I think we're headed to Dallas it looks like the most likely opponents would be West Virginia, Baylor, or Iowa State, who are the last three teams eligible in the Big 12 standings. I kind of like the idea of West Virginia or Baylor. Both have exciting offenses, but very shitty defenses. Let's put it this way. Indiana's defense rates better than both West Virginia and Baylor. All bowl games should be fun shootouts, and I think a game against West Virginia or Baylor on New Year's day would be a hell of a lot of fun with a ton of points like the game yesterday.
So, in roughly 1,000 words, there is your answer.