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Breaking down the bowls: What’s the best game, and how does the Big Ten finish?

Plus, Indiana got screwed...but the newest COVID rules remind us of just how much the fix is in for Ohio State.

Indiana v Ohio State
I don’t have any context for this picture.

Well the Big Ten bowl lineup is finalized. We’ll take a look at the matchups and give you, from a conference perspective, a 32,000-foot overview of the five games for the conference’s best:

Duke’s Mayo Bowl

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Wednesday, Dec. 30 | 11am CT | ESPN
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC

Music City Bowl

#15 Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Missouri Tigers

Wednesday, Dec. 30 | 3pm CT | ESPN
Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN

Citrus Bowl

#14 Northwestern Wildcats vs. Auburn Tigers

Friday, Jan. 1 | 12pm CT | ABC
Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL

Outback Bowl

#11 Indiana Hoosiers vs. Ole Miss Rebels

Saturday, Jan. 2 | 11:30am | ABC
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL

And the reason we’ve all been playing...

College Football Playoff Semifinal — Sugar Bowl

#3 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. #2 Clemson Tigers

Friday, Jan. 1 | 7pm CT | ESPN
Superdome, New Orleans, LA

A. Who got the biggest shaft and why was it Indiana? Show your work.

pkloa: The B1G team always gets the shaft at the Outback Bowl. Who the hell wants coconut shrimp over a bloomin’ onion? Second rate steak fans everywhere are rooting against the Hoosiers.

WSR: I mean, it’s Indiana. The Outback Bowl is fine and Ole Miss is a fun opponent on multiple levels. But fuck Iowa State.

BoilerBettor: The obvious answer is Indiana. And I’m going to disagree with pkloa. The Outback Bowl is fine destination for hangover football between upper-tier teams who basically shouldn’t be there because their league put two teams into the NY6 Bowls.

That said, the Committee gives no fucks about Indiana because it’s not a “Football” school. Not that Iowa State is either. Actually, I’m not sure what Iowa State is. Or Iowa for that matter.

Jesse Collins: I don’t even have anything fun to say. Indiana got screwed, the Big Ten leadership team needs to get its shit together and fight for bowl placement better, and I’m pretty sure both the Bloomin Onion and Coconut Shrimp suck.

MNW: Wait Jesse what the hell:

both the Bloomin Onion and Coconut Shrimp suck

I will not tolerate this Bloomin’ Onion slander. After Northwestern lost the 2016 Outback Bowl by approximately ten touchdo—GOOOOOOOD OLLLLLLLD ROCKY TOP FUCK GET OUT OF MY HEAD—we had to drive all the way back to Chicago the next day. Stopped in Chattanooga, got out of the minivan in all-purple, got seated at three two-person tables right next to each other, and each ate most of a Bloomin’ Onion. God, I hurt all the way through Kentucky.

Iowa State at 6th was the Committee trying to provide some semblance of “Yeah, we care about teams from the other power conferences!” and Gary Barta being a corrupt sack of Title IX-violated shit. That’s about it.

What’s worse is that the Big Ten—and Kevin Warren, you better figure out in a damn hurry how to lobby for this conference—just let Barta and the Committee get away with it. That’s something I don’t think we’ve talked enough about—how the Big Ten straight-up changed its rules to help Ohio State have its full complement of players magically ready, just in time, for Clemson.

We’re just playing by two different sets of rules here.

DJ Carver: I’m not sure why Indiana got screwed, they get to dunk all over the SEC because Ole Miss blows. Indiana’s offense is going to have a field day. I’d argue they should definitely be in a NY6 bowl but I have no idea how you figure out bowl placements this year with so many teams and bowls opting out or being cancelled.

Stew: It’s Indiana, as for my work:

Candystripes for Breakfast: “Indiana didn’t beat a single team with a winning record.”

Ole Miss is 4-5.

“Indiana doesn’t have a single top 25 win.”

Except for #8 Penn State, #23 Michigan, and #16 Wisconsin.

“They didn’t have the quality wins Iowa State had.”

And also didn’t lose to a Sun Belt team by 17 points.


Who got screwed?

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    Indiana, most of all
    (117 votes)
  • 37%
    The whole conference, as rules magically change for OSU.
    (94 votes)
  • 15%
    No one, I see no problem with how any of this worked! O-H!
    (39 votes)
250 votes total Vote Now

B. What will be the best game of these five? Why?

pkloa: I suppose if the Auburn players still don’t have a coach, they could be playing extra hard for Coach Steele to get the job. Or they could completely tank the game to #StopTheSteele.

WSR: It’s the Outback Bowl, followed by Sugar. The Hoosiers and Buckeyes are the only two fun teams playing from the B1G, and Clemson and Ole Miss aren’t going to sit back, punt, and play defense either.

Boiler: I’m actually interested to see the Indiana - Ole Miss game. Give me Indiana’s Defense against Lane Kiffin’s offense and it has some decent possibility to it.

Jesse: Give me the Sugar. I think Ohio State can give Clemson a game despite what many prognosticators are saying. While Ohio State hasn’t looked fantastic as of late, I will say that some time—and uh, miraculous COVID healing—should give the Buckeyes what they need to compete with the insufferable Dabo.

MNW: Gimme Indiana-Ole Miss. I’m ready for a pissed off Hoosiers club, a Lane Kiffin who gives no fucks, and a game that trends closer to 42-35 than it does 14-6.

DJ: OSU/Clemson. That’s easy. I hope OSU is up to speed and has their 22 players back for the game, otherwise it may not be as good of a game. OSU doesn’t look amazing but they have the ability to make this a shootout.

Stew: Ugh, it’s probably going to be OSU/Clemson, but fuck those guys. Indiana/Ole Miss gonna be fun, and we should all watch. Kiffin is going to throw some weird shit around, and Ole Miss has the 6th best offense in the country according to Football Outsiders up against a top 10 defense in Indiana (the best defense Ole Miss has faced all season).

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, Indiana is sporting a respectable top 40 offense against a dumpster fire of a defense for Ole Miss at 118. Should be a good time.

Candy: On a prestige measurement (which I’m coming to understand is the primary measurement of how good something in the Big Ten is), obviously the Sugar Bowl game.

On a watchability level, either Iowa-Mizzou if both teams show up ready to play or IU-Ole Miss if the Hoosier offense shows up ready to play.


What’s the best game in the Big Ten’s bowl slate?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Indiana-Ole Miss
    (77 votes)
  • 39%
    Ohio State-Clemson
    (78 votes)
  • 20%
    Other (comments)
    (41 votes)
196 votes total Vote Now

C. What will be the worst game of these five? Why?

pkloa: Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Missouri Tigers in the Music City Bowl is the beigest matchup imaginable. I feel legitimately sorry for any of you who tune in.

WSR: Oh God. I can’t pick. All 3 of the other games have real trash potential. Auburn doesn’t have a coach, which gives that game some next-level “Who gives a fuck” that just multiplies when you toss Northwestern in.

Boiler: Clemson vs. Ohio State. Disrespekt aside, Justin Fields hasn’t looked that great against actual defenses (12/27 for 114 and 2 INTs against Northwestern, 3 INTs against Indiana) and Clemson /checks notes has an actual defense.

Will it be 31-0? I doubt it. But I expect Clemson to keep the Buckeyes at arms length.

Jesse: I cannot tell you one interesting thing about Wake Forest football, which could be on me, but I’m guessing I don’t watch that game—not unusual for a ‘writer’ here.

Oh, and do either of these teams care about the Mayo Bowl? Should either of these teams care about the Mayo Bowl?

MNW: In order of watchability:
1. Indiana-Ole Miss
T-4. Northwestern-Auburn
T-4. Wisconsin-Wake Forest
T-4. Iowa-Mizzou
5. Ohio State-Clemson

There is nothing tolerable about listening to invented storylines about the “adversity” these two teams have faced as ESPN has to kill time, and there’s nothing pleasurable about seeing a Big Ten school once again get thrashed by Prosperity Gospel Huckster.

DJ: This might be the newer Big Ten member in me but Iowa/Missouri just has zero appeal. I’m sure they might hate each other or something for some reason I’m unaware but happy to find out but it rates about a 0 on my do I even want to watch this scale.

Stew: I really don’t know how to choose between Iowa/Mizzou or Auburn/jNW. They’re both going to be pretty ugly. Especially with Auburn missing Malzahn, jNW is gonna drag that game in the mud pretty easily.

Meanwhile, I expect Iowa to smother Mizzou pretty easily, while also being pretty boring in the process. Something like 24-10.

Candy: Wisconsin-Wake. If you have to ask why, you haven’t watched Wisconsin since the first week or two of the season.


What’s the worst game here?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    Ohio State-Clemson
    (42 votes)
  • 53%
    (117 votes)
  • 7%
    (17 votes)
  • 15%
    (34 votes)
  • 3%
    Indiana-Ole Miss
    (7 votes)
217 votes total Vote Now

D. Early days: How does the Big Ten fare in these five games?

Be as specific as possible while describing how Clemson will disembowel Ohio State; I swear, I’m not touching myself while you do it.

pkloa: Clemson is going to shut down the Ohio State offense faster than the Buckeyes shut down COVID testing protocols following the B1GCCG. Hoping the other four teams win, but more likely 2-3 overall.

WSR: If Ohio State can get some receivers back, they’ll have a shot. Best-case feels like 4-1 with Northwestern losing by 1.746 points. Worst-case is a quite realistic 0-fer.

Boiler: I’m going to go with 3-2. Ohio State is going to get run over by Car RamRod (I don’t know, just roll with it) and I expect Iowa or Northwestern to lose in some spectacular fashion as well. Seriously, though, fuck the CFP.

Jesse: 3-2 and I really don’t want to show my work here. First blush I’m taking Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana, but I could easily be talked into a swap for Northwestern and Ohio State for Iowa and Wisconsin.

I don’t think any of these matchups screams “ABSOLUTE LOSS” or “ABSOLUTE WIN” which means the Big Ten is about to have a very bad bowl season...

MNW: Indiana rolls, one of the three coin flips comes up bad for the B1G, and Clemson beats Ohio State. 3-2.

DJ: 4-1, OSU is the only loss. While it’s the best game of the five, it’s also the only game in these five that I’m not sure how it’ll be a victory if they are down so many players. Even when healthy, the running game has been suspect in comparison to what they will face with Clemson’s offense. Prove me wrong, Buckeyes!

Stew: I’m gonna say the conference goes 3-2, hopefully wisconsin finds a way to lose.

Candy: 4-1, but the Big Ten will declare Ohio State the winner retroactively anyway, so 5*-0.


How does the Big Ten do in bowl season?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    (17 votes)
  • 30%
    (60 votes)
  • 35%
    (70 votes)
  • 15%
    (31 votes)
  • 6%
    (12 votes)
  • 2%
    (5 votes)
195 votes total Vote Now

Let us know how many wins you’re predicting, who you think got screwed, and all your Big Ten bowl reactions in the comments.