A LOOK AT THE BIG TEN'S BOWL PROSPECTS
The Star Tribune's Phil Miller breaks down the Big Ten and its bowl teams:
Insight Bowl, Iowa vs. Missouri: Hard to believe the Hawkeyes, last seen falling to the Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium to close the season with three consecutive losses, will be motivated against the Tigers, especially after losing their top receiver to a drug arrest and top rusher to suspension. Take Missouri.
Texas Bowl, Illinois vs. Baylor: The Illini haven't won a bowl game since 1999, and have never played a Big 12 team in the postseason, but they're the experienced ones; Baylor's last appearance was in 1994. Both teams average more than 200 yards rushing and have questionable defenses. Take Baylor.
TicketCity Bowl, Northwestern vs. Texas Tech: The Wildcats haven't won a bowl game since 1945, going 0-7 since becoming relevant again. This would be a fascinating matchup if quarterback Dan Persa was healthy, but without him, Northwestern doesn't figure to score enough. Take Texas Tech.
Capital One Bowl, Michigan State vs. Alabama: No team is more motivated than the Spartans, who like to point out they beat Wisconsin, but the Badgers get to go to the Rose Bowl. Defending champ Alabama has been a disappointment and has reasons to think about next year. Take Michigan State.
Outback Bowl, Penn State vs. Florida: Joe Paterno has been coaching the Nittany Lions almost since Urban Meyer was born, but it's the Gators coach who is burned out. Florida will try to send Meyer out a winner, but Penn State's defense has improved enough to pull the upset. Take Penn State.
Gator Bowl, Michigan vs. Mississippi State: All the questions are about whether Rich Rodriguez will be back to coach the Wolverines next year, and the potential is there for the Bulldogs -- who gave Auburn its biggest scare this year -- to make Michigan's decision an easy one. Take Mississippi State.
Rose Bowl, Wisconsin vs. TCU: A terrific matchup between a Badgers offense that looked unstoppable by season's end and a Horned Frog defense that allowed the fewest yards in the nation. Count on Wisconsin's three-back system to keep fresh legs testing TCU. Take Wisconsin.
Sugar Bowl, Ohio State vs. Arkansas: The Buckeyes are 0-9 against SEC teams in bowl games, and the delayed-until-next-year suspensions of quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four other Buckeyes adds a strange, will-they-go-pro distraction. Razorback Ryan Mallett might be the best QB in the game, and the Superdome should be full of Hog fans. Take Arkansas.