The Big Ten has been on a roll of late, announcing four new bowl commitments that will start following the 2014 season. Currently, the league has contracts with eight bowls:
Rose Bowl - The league champion goes here, pretty much in perpetuity. Even with the new playoff coming this is the likely destination of the Big Ten champ as long as it is not involved in the playoff. As you know, Purdue played in the 1967 and 2001 Rose Bowls
Capitol One Bowl - This is currently the No. 2 Big Ten bowl but has often had the No. 3 team in the league. The Big Ten often gets a second BCS bid somewhere, moving everyone up a slot. Purdue played here once, in 2004 after going 9-3 in the 2003 season and both Michigan and Ohio State went to the BCS.
Outback Bowl - The second of the SEC/Big Ten game son New Year's Day played in Tampa. Purdue played here once as well, in 2000 after going 7-4 in 1999. It had the same opponent in both the Capitol One and Outback Bowls with the same result: an overtime loss to Georgia.
Gator Bowl - This is currently the third Big Ten/SEC New Year's Day game in Florida. Purdue has yet to play in it.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl - The first non-New Year's Day game of the bunch, Purdue has often been mentioned for this game when it was the Insight Bowl, but we have yet to play in it.
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas - This one is also a Big Ten/Big 12 matchup that Purdue has not played in.
Heart of Dallas Bowl - The fifth New Year's Day Bowl involving a Big Ten team and former Ticket City Bowl, it was Purdue's most recent matchup. It also is a Big Ten/Big 12 bowl and resulted in the unmerciful beating handed out by Oklahoma State to start this year.
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl - The final bowl has only had a Big Ten team eligible for it three times, and Purdue was two of them. The glorified early season game against one of the better MAC teams has been won by Purdue in 2007 and 2011.
Of course, with Maryland and Rutgers coming into the Big Ten next season it means bowl contracts will be restructured. It is likely that that some of the above eight bowls will go away, but other will join them. I can see the league settling on at least nine guaranteed bowl slots if not 10. Much of that comes from the 2011 season when only Indiana and Minnesota did not reach bowl eligibility in the Big Ten.
We know that the Rose Bowl is definitely returning because well, it's the friggin' Rose Bowl. Here are the other new Bowl Games announced by the league, two of them today.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl - New York, NY - As if playing in Detroit in late December wasn't fun, at least it was indoors. Playing outdoors in New York will be a blast. I think this is more of Jim Delaney thinking that New York gives two shits about the Big Ten, or even college football in general. The Big Ten will be paired against an ACC team here.
Music City Bowl - Nashville, TN - This bowl is back on the Big Ten rotation, as it was a conference bowl game from 2002-05. Minnesota won it twice in 2002 and 2004, with the 2004 game coming over Alabama. In fact, Minnesota played in three of the four Music City Bowls under that contract. The opponent will likely either be an SEC or ACC team.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl - San Francisco, CA - This game is currently played in whatever-the-hell they are calling the home of the San Francisco Giants these days and will eventually be moved to the new 49ers' stadium when it is finished. Really, it should be an argument against too many bowls. The only time a Big Ten team played in it was 2001, when Illinois, who was 6-6 after a 6-0 start, went because of an open slot even after firing Ron Zook. They beat UCLA 20-14 after the Bruins also fired their coach and had a special exemption just to get into a bowl game after losing the Pac-12 title game and finishing 6-8. They did become the first college football team to ever go 6-8, however.
This new game will be a Big Ten/Pac-12 matchup, but they haven't announced where on the hierarchy it will fall. By far, this is the best thing ever written about the game:
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: A BCS conference team vs. Hungry people
Let's take this one literally: A mid-level BCS conference team -- let's say Big 12 No. 5, so usually Texas Tech -- faces 85 really hungry people chosen through an essay contest. The essay topic: Just how hungry are you? The hungry people can field up to 25 players at once, and are allowed to commit defensive pass interference and encroachment. To up the ante, the winning team gets all the Kraft Mac & Cheese, Jell-O, and Oscar Meyer hot dogs it wants for the next year. Can a team of well-trained, well-fed college athletes shuttled to chilly San Francisco in December defeat a mob of really hungry people? It's basically The Walking Dead.
Holiday Bowl - San Diego, CA - This is the most exciting of the four new bowls and will be another Big Ten/Pac-12 matchup. It will likely be upper tier teams as well, since it is currently one of the better non-New Year's Day bowl games out there. The last Big Ten team to play in this one was Michigan in 1994. The Big Ten is 6-2-1 all-time in this game with Penn State (1-0) and Nebraska (1-2) not counting in that record as they played in the bowl before becoming Big Ten members.
According to ESPN, the league will continue its contracts with the Rose, Capitol One, Outback, Gator, and Heart of Dallas Bowls, thus kicking out the two Texas bowl games. There is still the possibility of returning to Detroit as the Lions are kicking the Pizza bowl out of their stadium after this coming season for a possible new bowl game affiliated with the Big Ten. The Pizza Bowl may disband or move across the street to Comerica Park.
Here is my guess as to how the bowls will pick in order:
- Capitol One
- Outback/Holiday (some of the bowls alternate each year)
- Kraft Fight Hunger
- Heart of Dallas
- Music City
- Mythical Detroit Bowl
This, of course, affects Purdue because it gives the Boilers several new postseason destinations. I'd like to think coach Hazell can get us above return trips to Detroit and at least in the middle four with regularity. Purdue has only twice played a bowl game in California (both Rose Bowls), so the idea of having two more chances each year is nice.
Of course, California has not been kind to our Boilermakers. Purdue has won just twice in the Golden State, that being the 1967 Rose Bowl. and a 1970 win at Stanford. Purdue lost in 1939 at Santa Clara, tied at UCLA in 1959, lost at UCLA in 1979, lost at USC in 1975 and 1998, and lost the 2001 Rose Bowl. That's a pretty bad 2-5-1 record all-time record out there.