The Big Ten is once again left out of the College Football Playoff fun, and the conference champ is out of it for a third consecutive season. With no playoff team to rely on this season, the Big Ten will still send two teams into a New Year's Six bowl game and every Big Ten team in a bowl game will be taking on an opponent from another power conference.
The Big Ten actually has a loaded lineup on the bowl schedule this season with nine teams heading to bowl games. That lineup includes the familiar names like Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Penn State as well as some teams that just clawed their way to a bowl game with wins in the regular season finale, Purdue and Minnesota.
The Big Ten also is coming off one of the best bowl seasons in conference history with a record of 7-1 last season. Like last year’s bowl matchups, the Big Ten will take on another power conference opponent in each bowl game on the schedule this season. The Big Ten takes on the ACC in the first two games on the schedule, the SEC in four games, and the Pac-12 in three more games, culminating with the Rose Bowl in a clash of conference champions. The lone power conference missing on the Big Ten bowl schedule is the Big 12.
But which games should you be the most interested in? Let’s run down the list, starting with the most intriguing bowl games on the Big Ten bowl schedule.
Note: All times are ET.
1. Rose Bowl – Ohio State (12-1) vs. Washington (10-3)
Jan. 1 – 5 p.m., ESPN
Ohio State is back in the Rose Bowl for the first and only time under Urban Meyer. The traditional matchup of Big Ten and Pac-12 champions will include Heisman Trophy finalist Dwayne Haskins and a coaching matchup of Meyer vs. Chris Petersen. Of course, this will be the final game coached by Meyer as he heads into retirement.
2. Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl – Michigan (10-2) vs. Florida (9-3)
Dec. 29 – 12 p.m., ESPN
Yet another matchup between Michigan and Florida, which is beginning to feel like an annual event. Jim Harbaugh vs. Dan Mullen could be a fun coaching matchup, and defense should be on display on both sides. The game may be lacking for offensive firepower, but this one could be a tight battle that goes down to the wire.
3. Citrus Bowl – Penn State (9-3) vs. Kentucky (9-3)
Jan. 1 – 1 p.m., ABC
Trace McSorley plays his final game for the Nittany Lions, and he’ll be hunted by Chuck Bednarik Award winner Josh Allen of Kentucky all game long. Penn State will look to get the offense on track against a surprising Kentucky team with both teams looking to get to 10 wins.
4. Music City Bowl – Purdue (6-6) vs. Auburn (7-5)
Dec. 28 – 1:30 p.m., ESPN
Jeff Brohm decided to stay at Purdue instead of going to Louisville, and now the Boilermakers look to celebrate with a win against the Auburn Tigers. Purdue’s offense can be fun but the Tigers' defense could slow them down a bit. This should be an entertaining game in Nashville, Tennessee.
5. Outback Bowl – Iowa (8-4) vs. Mississippi State (8-4)
Jan. 1 – 12 p.m., ESPN2
Iowa will take on Mississippi State, coached by former Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson, this year’s Mackey Award winner, will be key in what should be a good defensive battle in Tampa.
6. Redbox Bowl – Michigan State (7-5) vs. Oregon (8-4)
Dec. 31 – 3 p.m., FOX
A matchup between Michigan State and Oregon in a bowl game seems fun at a glance, but with both teams having some injury issues, this game has lost some luster. The Spartans have been banged up down the stretch and Oregon lost Justin Herbert to an injury. This one could turn into a game so bad that it becomes pure entertainment that cannot be avoided.
7. Pinstripe Bowl – Wisconsin (7-5) vs. Miami (7-5)
Dec. 27 – 5:15 p.m., ESPN
These two teams just played last year in the Orange Bowl, with the Badgers handing Miami a loss in their home stadium. This year the matchup moves north to blustery Yankee Stadium, and this is an environment Miami will not want to be in. Jonathan Taylor and Wisconsin should run their way to victory on the baseball diamond.
8. Holiday Bowl – Northwestern (8-5) vs. Utah (9-4)
Dec. 31 – 7 p.m., FS1
Despite being a matchup of ranked teams, it’s difficult to get too up for this game unless you are a fan of either team. The Big Ten and Pac-12 runners-up bring nine losses to the matchup and neither team has much sizzle on offense to look forward to.
9. Quick Lane Bowl – Minnesota (6-6) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5)
Dec. 26 – 5:15 p.m., ESPN
P.J. Fleck has Minnesota rowing their way into the postseason after upsetting Wisconsin in the regular-season finale. Their reward is a trip to Michigan to play a Georgia Tech team sending Paul Johnson off into retirement.
— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook.