NCAA Bowl Projections: Big Ten And Big East

SBN Pittsburgh projects the rest of the Big Ten and Big East's bowl tie-ins. Where will Pitt and Penn State end up this bowl season?

On Monday, SBN Pittsburgh projected all five of the BCS bowls. Today, we continue down the bowl prediction path. The same assumptions will carry over: Virginia Tech, Nebraska, and Auburn win their conference championship games, West Virginia wins the Big East, and Arkansas and Ohio State are the at-large BCS selections. We're not going to look at all 30 (yes, 30) remaining bowls, as that is a fool's errand, bound to be wrong at multiple turns. Instead, to maintain sanity, we'll only be projecting Big Ten and Big East bowls.

In all honesty, once you follow the rules outlined in the BCS bowl projection article, choosing the participants is relatively easy (barring an upset in the conference championship games). The remaining bowls are much more difficult, as they are constrained by fewer rules, not to mention the fact that there are six times as many non-BCS bowls. While non-BCS bowls also have conference affiliations, they have more freedom to make selections from within that conference, as opposed to the BCS bowls, which are typically bound to take conference champions only.

There is only one major rule for these projections: with very few exceptions, bowls must choose the highest conference team remaining, plus or minus one win or loss (for example, a 4-4 Penn State team cannot be chosen ahead of a 7-1 Michigan State team, but a 3-5 Michigan team can be chosen ahead of a 4-4 Illinois team). So let's take a look at the Big Ten and Big East's bowl-bound teams, and where and when they'll be playing this bowl season.

THE BIG TEN

(Eligible teams, in order: Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Northwestern)

Capital One Bowl
January 1, 2011 - 1:00 pm - Orlando, FL
Big Ten No. 2 vs. SEC No. 2
$4.25 million payout per team

With Wisconsin and Ohio State playing in BCS games, the third Big Ten conference co-champion is relegated to the Capital One Bowl. On the other side of the field, the Capital One Bowl has a couple of choices, but they will stick to the traditional format and pick the highest ranked SEC team left, LSU. SBN Pittsburgh projection: Michigan State vs. LSU

Outback Bowl
January 1, 2011 - 1:00 pm - Tampa, FL
Big Ten No. 3 vs. SEC No. 3 / No. 4
$3.1 million payout per team

The third Big Ten selection offers the Outback Bowl many options. All of the remaining eligible teams can be selected here, thanks to the one-loss-away rule. The two most attractive options are Penn State and Iowa, which, for the second year in a row, find themselves tied in both conference and overall records, with Iowa winning the head-to-head regular season matchup. In the SEC, the Cotton Bowl generally takes the best remaining West Division team, leaving the Outback to take the best remaining East Division team. SBN Pittsburgh projection: Iowa vs. South Carolina

Gator Bowl
January 1, 2011 - 1:30 pm - Jacksonville, FL
Big Ten No. 4 / No. 5 vs. SEC No. 6
$2.75 million payout per team

The Big Ten once again finds itself matched up against the SEC, and all remaining teams are eligible to be picked here. The Gator Bowl's decision will likely come down to Penn State or Michigan, but with a better conference record and the regular season victory, Penn State is the easy choice. The SEC will choose whichever of Florida or Mississippi State that the Chick-Fil-A Bowl did not take. SBN Pittsburgh projection: Penn State vs. Florida

Insight Bowl
December 28, 2010 - 10:00 pm - Tempe, AZ
Big Ten No. 4 No. 5 vs. Big Twelve No. 4
$3.325 million payout per team

Ironically, the sixth Big Ten pick will receive more money in its bowl game than the fifth pick. However, playing on New Years Day is a lot better than December 28, in terms of prestige. The Big Ten selection here is easy. For the Big Twelve representative, the Insight Bowl will have a couple of options. Nebraska and Oklahoma should be gone, leaving Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M for the Alamo Bowl, the Big Twelve's pick just before this bowl. Texas A&M would be the best bet there, since the Alamo Bowl is played, naturally, in Texas. SBN Pittsburgh projection: Michigan vs. Missouri

Texas Bowl
December 29, 2010 - 6:00 pm - Houston, TX
Big Ten No. 6 vs. Big Twelve No. 6
$612,500 payout per team

Only two teams remain for the Big Ten, thanks to the conference placing two teams in BCS bowls. Three eligible teams remain in the Big Twelve by the time this selection rolls around. None of the matchups sound particularly attractive, but the Big Twelve selection is pretty obvious, considering the venue of the game. SBN Pittsburgh projection: Northwestern vs. Baylor

TicketCity Bowl
January 1, 2011 - Noon - Dallas, TX
Big Ten No. 7 vs. Big Twelve No. 8
$1.2 million payout per team

There is only one team in the Big Ten left, in terms of bowl eligibility. Similarly, this will be the last Big Twelve team chosen, in a battle that is shaping up to be a matchup of the last kids picked in kickball. SBN Pittsburgh projection: Illinois vs. Kansas State

THE BIG EAST

(Eligible teams, in order: West Virginia, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, South Florida, Louisville, Notre Dame*)

Champs Sports Bowl
December 28, 2010 - 6:30 pm - Orlando, FL
Big East No. 2 vs. ACC No. 3
$2.13 million payout per team

You'll notice that one of the Big East's eligible teams doesn't quite belong. Unfortunately for all the other teams, the Champs Sports Bowl has a deal whereby it can pick Notre Dame ahead of all other Big East teams provided certain conditions are met, and this year, they are met. Even in dismal years such as this, the Irish brand and traveling fan base are too much for any bowl to turn down. The ACC opponent will come down to Maryland or North Carolina State, but because the two met in the regular season, the choice is relatively clear. SBN Pittsburgh projection: Notre Dame vs. Maryland

Meineke Car Care Bowl
December 31, 2010 - Noon - Charlotte, NC
Big East No. 3 vs. ACC No. 5
$1 million payout per team

What should be the third Big East pick will actually be the second, thanks to the Irish. The best bets here are Connecticut and Pitt which, assuming WVU is in the BCS, will have the same overall record, while Pitt will have a slightly better conference record. However, UConn won the regular season matchup. This will be a tossup. In the ACC, anything can happen with Miami, North Carolina State, Clemson, Boston College and North Carolina all in the mix. Pitt already played Miami, though, making a rematch unlikely. SBN Pittsburgh projection: Pitt vs. North Carolina State

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
December 30, 2010 - 3:20 pm - Bronx, NY
Big East No. 4 vs. Big Twelve No. 7
$2 million payout per team

If you had to do a double take reading the last bowl caption, I'm not surprised. There really will be a college football bowl outside in Yankee Stadium. Luckily for the bowl organizers and Hank Steinbrenner (who else would pay $2 million per team for college football in Yankee Stadium in the dead of winter?), there is an eligible Big East team in the state. Unfortunately for Texas Tech, the Red Raiders are a more attractive selection than Kansas State (see above). SBN Pittsburgh projection: Syracuse vs. Texas Tech

BBVA Compass Bowl
January 8, 2011 - Noon - Birmingham, AL
Big East No. 5 vs. SEC No. 8
$600K payout to Big East team, $900K payout to SEC team

Don't worry, I looked it up. The corporate sponsor for this bowl is a Spain-based banking conglomerate with a U.S.-based entity known as Compass. The other thing that stands out in the caption is the payout disparity. I can find no answer as to why there are differing payouts. Either way, this isn't a glamorous game, despite its January 8th game date. SBN Pittsburgh projection: Connecticut vs. Tennessee

Beef O' Brady's Bowl
December 21, 2010 - 8 pm - St. Petersburg, FL
Big East No. 6 vs. C-USA No. 4
$1 million payout per team

In case you hadn't already noticed, the corporate sponsors of the Big East tie-in games are some of the best in terms of level of hilariously named college football bowls. This is the last of the Big East bowl tie-in games, meaning that one of the Big East teams will have to be a replacement pick elsewhere, most likely for the last Big Ten tie-in game, due to two Big Ten teams playing in BCS bowls. The pickings are slim in C-USA, a non-automatic qualifying conference where no team has less than three losses. SBN Pittsburgh projection: South Florida vs. Southern Mississippi

Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl
December 26, 2010 - 8:30 pm - Detroit, MI
MAC No. 1 vs. Big Ten No. 8*
$750K payout per team

The Big Ten will have run out of eligible teams by this selection, so the bowl committee will have to pick from remaining teams. That means Louisville gets to travel to balmy Detroit for the holidays. The winner of Friday's MAC Championship falls into this bowl, a matchup that pits Northern Illinois against Miami (OH). This bowl will undoubtedly break some TV ratings records. SBN Pittsburgh projection: Louisville vs. Northern Illinois

LOCAL ANALYSIS

We put West Virginia in a BCS bowl, but Connecticut could win on Saturday, dashing all Mountaineer hopes. If that happens, Notre Dame would likely still get the Champs Sports invite, pushing WVU, Pitt, and the rest even further down the chain. Further, because of the one-off-loss rule, Pitt could end up anywhere from the Champs Sports bowl to the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl. None of the Panthers destinations sound particularly exciting, but a bowl victory will come in mighty handy when looking back on this season. The five non-BCS Big East teams will play against five different conferences.

Similarly, Penn State has a wide variety of possible destinations, from the Outback Bowl to the Texas Bowl. There is a chance they could be selected before Iowa (or even Michigan) to represent the Big Ten in the Outback Bowl, but I just don't see it happening. The Big Ten plays both the SEC and the Big Twelve in all of its non-BCS games, an even three of each.

Stay tuned for the final BCS standings on Sunday evening, along with the bowl invitation announcements for all 30 bowls. SBN Pittsburgh will then revisit our projections, and predict the winners of every bowl!

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