Teddy Greenstein predicts the Big Ten's bowl games

Where will the Big Ten teams go bowling? We make our best guesses.

The biggest question regarding the Big Ten's new bowl system is not how it will work. It's why anyone didn't think of this sooner.

For decades the bowls determined which teams they would invite. They based their decisions on potential ticket sales, the quality of the teams, potential ticket sales, the lobbying power of the athletic directors and, yes, potential ticket sales.

The problem is there was no third party to speak for the greater good, so bowls would get stuck with the same team again and again. Minnesota went to the Insight Bowl in 2006, '08 and '09; Wisconsin hit Orlando in 2005, '06, '08 and '09 and Tampa in 2007.

That led to declining ticket sales and the term "bowl fatigue."

"You look at Wisconsin in central Florida all those years, and it just wasn't healthy," said Mark Rudner, senior associate commissioner of the Big Ten. "Bowl communities told us they didn't like it."

Starting this season — it all shakes out Dec. 7 — the bowls will submit a 1-2-3 ranking of their preferences. Schools will in turn rank their preferred destinations. And then the conference will make the match, based on creating desirable matchups (no rematches) and other parameters.

For example, the Outback Bowl (Tampa) and Holiday Bowl (San Diego) are promised five different Big Ten teams over a six-year span.

"We've never been through this process before, but we're fired up about it," Holiday Bowl executive director Bruce Binkowski said. "To get Big Ten teams back in the Holiday Bowl family is a big deal to us."

The Big Ten not only will give its teams and fans more variety, but also has added several new destinations: Miami (roughly once every three to four years); San Diego; Nashville, Tenn. (three times in six years); New York; Santa Clara, Calif.; and Fort Worth, Texas (three times in six years).

"We came up with bowls in great destinations," Rudner said. "Can't go to the Orange Bowl? Well, you might go to San Diego."

Here are the Big Ten bowl projections

Ohio State: Sugar Bowl (College Football Playoff semifinal), Jan. 1, New Orleans

The Buckeyes need to win the Big Ten title game and rise from No. 6 to No. 4 in the CFP rankings. If Ohio State gets to No. 3, it could play Oregon in the Rose Bowl, which hosts the other semifinal. The top-ranked team gets its geographic preference, so Alabama could "host" the Sugar Bowl.

Michigan State: Citrus Bowl, Jan. 1, Orlando, Fla.

The Orange Bowl will select the highest-ranked team from the Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame to face an ACC team. If the Orange does not pick a Big Ten team, it will play in the Citrus Bowl. If the Spartans win out, they'll have a decent chance to play in a selection committee bowl (Orange, Cotton, Fiesta or Peach).

Wisconsin: Outback Bowl, Jan. 1, Tampa, Fla.

Fitting for the Badgers, Melvin Gordon & Co. would receive the red-carpet treatment.

Minnesota: Holiday Bowl, Dec. 27, San Diego

Nebraska played here in 2009 and 2010, so it might make more sense to send the Gophers out west — especially if they upset the Cornhuskers on Saturday.

Nebraska: Music City Bowl, Dec. 30, Nashville, Tenn., or TaxSlayer Bowl, Jan. 2, Jacksonville, Fla.

These bowls will decide whether to take a team from the Big Ten or ACC. The Huskers played in Jacksonville last season, so Nashville would be a logical destination.

Penn State: Pinstripe Bowl, Dec. 27, New York

Free from NCAA sanctions, the Nittany Lions would attract a nice crowd from their New York/New Jersey alumni base.

Iowa: Foster Farms Bowl, Dec. 30, Santa Clara, Calif.

Who says overalls and wine-tasting don't mix?

Michigan: Quick Lane Bowl, Dec. 26, Detroit

The Wolverines would likely get this "reward" by beating Maryland on Saturday to reach six wins.

Maryland: Heart of Dallas Bowl, Dec. 26

The Terrapins haven't played in a Texas bowl since the 1984 Sun Bowl. Wonder if the cowboy boots still fit.

Northwestern: Armed Forces Bowl, Jan. 2, Fort Worth, Texas

Army (3-7) won't qualify, so why not invite the Wildcats and require they wear those red, white and blue jerseys with COURAGE and DUTY among the "names" on the back? Northwestern needs to beat Purdue and Illinois to reach six wins.

Rutgers: Hawaii Bowl, Dec. 24, Honolulu

Rutgers fans sipping Lava Flows would feel really good about joining the Big Ten if this works out.

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