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Realistic Bowl Games for Every Big Ten Football Team

With the 2017 regular season in the books, the College Football Playoff is almost upon us. For the rest of the country, most teams will cross their fingers for a great bowl game in warmer weather, including at least eight schools from the Big Ten. But we have the supreme knowledge of the real bowl games all Big Ten teams will be invited to this year, as well as our predictions for the appropriate opponents for each team:

Illinois (2-10)— The “Yes, We’re Still Here” Bowl vs. that one friend you start talking shit about even though she is clearly in earshot:
They’ve been missing from the mainstream sports scene for so long that sometimes we have to double-check to make sure they didn’t get lost. That 13-game conference losing streak is sadly impressive, particularly because their last Big Ten win was against… well, never mind.

Indiana (5-7)— The “We’re a Basketball School” Bowl vs. Kansas Jayhawks (1-11, you guys should stick to basketball, too):
This is hardly an excuse anymore, considering they haven’t won a basketball title in 30 years. Still, it’s the only the one they really have.

Maryland (4-8)— The “We Put Our State Flag on Everything” Bowl vs. Texas gift shops:
Helmets, jerseys, backpacks, tattoos, pets, neighbors, other state flags it literally does not matter so long as you can see that red, white, black, and yellow. We’re not mad at you, Maryland, but chill out a little bit.

Minnesota (5-7)— The “Our Mascot is a Gopher and We Still Expect to Win” Bowl vs. Bill Murray’s character in Caddyshack:
Gophers are ugly and stupid. All they do is eat dirt and hide underground, kind of like Minnesota’s football program the past 55 years. Don’t expect to make history while Goldy is still your frontman; he’s not in the book, y’know.

Rutgers (4-8)— The “Second Bye Week” Bowl vs. the ever-present looming ominousness of an upset:
This team is so bad it’s like getting another week of rest.

Nebraska (4-8)— The “We’re Still a National Program Despite Recent Years’ Results” Bowl vs. Notre Dame (9-3 – yeah, they’ve been good lately, but haven’t won a title since Reagan was president):
This team hasn’t won a national championship since 1997 but still acts like they’re hot shit… wait, this sounds familiar…

Iowa (7-5)— The “Beat the Shit Out of OSU and Not Really Anyone Else” Bowl vs. 2011 NCAA Investigation:
The Big Ten is tough, and really no team should be slept on. Ohio State learned this the hard way against an Iowa team that basically tread water the rest of the year. This team put up 55 against a national contender and then lost to Purdue two weeks later. What is you doin’, Iowa?

Purdue (6-6)— The “We Like Trains” Bowl vs. Chattanooga Mocs (3-8, what the fuck is a Moc?):
A somewhat surprisingly impressive .500 season for Purdue this year. Now that they have escaped the role of Big Ten bottom-feeder, can they now escape their weird fetishizing of railroads? What the fuck is a Boilermaker anyway?

Michigan (8-4)— The “Finished 6th in the Conference” Bowl vs. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (4-7, also finished 6th in their conference):
Remember when ol’ Jimmy returned to A2 and people lost their marbles because it was pretty much the equivalent of the Second Coming? Then he finished 4th in the Big Ten. Then he finished 4th again. Now he’s finished 6th. We’re not saying he’s overrated, but these aren’t exactly divine salvation-level numbers. Hang in there, Jimbo, Dancing with the Stars usually sends out their invitations about this time.

Penn State (10-2)— The “Close, But Just Not Good Enough” Bowl vs. Lonzo Ball’s rookie year:
Led by a Heisman candidate and a multitude of returning talent, the Nittany Lions were poised for a big season. However, everything just fizzled out to an above average year while other programs lunged ahead and capitalized on their chances for success. The hype was just a bit too much.

Michigan State (9-3)— The “Flipped the Script” Bowl vs. Robert Downey Jr.’s mid-2000s career:
Well, well, well… guess who’s back in the top tier of Big Ten football. It only took one year for Dr. Dantonio and his PhD in winning to flip that dismal 3-9 record of yesteryear to a clean 9-3 season, along with a chance at a New Year’s Day bowl game. Well done, Marky Mark.

Northwestern (9-3)— The “Holy Crap, We’re Actually Good” Bowl vs. Michigan State fans after the first 2 weeks of football:
For a team that was formed in 1876 and has never even gotten close to contending for a national championship, it seems any season over .500 would be cause for excitement. Channel the spirit of that 1949 Rose Bowl team, Wildcats, and make them proud this postseason.

Ohio State (10-2)— The “I Will Find You” Bowl vs. Liam Neeson in Taken:
After he easily dismantled an unranked Michigan, OSU head coach Urban Meyer claimed a cameraman knocked into Buckeye quarterback, JT Barrett, and tweaked his knee. Barrett’s knee has been iffy all year, but this mishap seemed to be the gravest offense in Meyer’s entire coaching career, as he promised to hunt down and find the cameraman responsible for the crime of the century.

Wisconsin (12-0)— The “LOL We’re Undefeated” Bowl vs. Michigan State in bad weather:
The least talked-about undefeated team in Division 1 football (probably ever). The low-key Badgers have slowly climbed the polls week after week and are sitting pretty atop the Big Ten. Sure, their schedule was pretty weak, but it’s hard to go undefeated for a whole season at any level. Their legitimacy will be tested against OSU in the Big Ten Championship, though.

With all these impressive possibilities, it sure is a great time for college football.


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