Okay, let me preface this by saying that nobody should consider my opinion on predicting these bowl games to be reliable. I am an admitted homer for teams from Ohio and the Big Ten Conference. Just to give you an idea of how much weight you should put into these predictions, I will put my preseason Big Ten rankings below so that you may be the judge.
Chad's 2013 Preseason Big Ten Rankings (Actual finish in parentheses)
12. (11.) Illinois - I had the Illini going 4-8 and being the worst team in the Big Ten. In reality they went 4-8 and were the second to worst team in the conference.
11. (4.) Iowa - Man, the Hawkeyes really surprised me this year. I should have had more faith in Kirk Ferentz as his teams always play good defense and run the ball well. I thought they'd go 5-7. They actually went 8-4 and were the Big Ten's fourth best team.
10. (7.) Penn State - A lot of my predictions about Penn State were true. Especially when it came to their lack of depth being a problem as the season wore on. I thought they'd also go 5-7, but they dug in and went 7-5. They are very well coached and I hope their bowl ban is lifted during the off season.
9. (12.) Purdue - Here is another one that I really whiffed on. Wow. The scrappy Purdue teams of recent memory were absent on this year's team. They were flat out awful. I thought they'd go 6-6 and they actually found the cellar of the conference en route to a forgettable 1-11 campaign.
8. (6.) Minnesota - The Golden Gophers were a great story this year. I projected they'd go 7-5 and make a bowl game. They went 8-4 and are appearing in their second straight bowl.
7. (3.) Wisconsin - The Badgers were yet another team I missed badly on. I thought they'd go 7-5 and make a bowl game but they did much better. I thought with a new staff that they would take a natural step backwards. Their 9-3 mark earned them third best in the Big Ten and made me realize that their former coach was not the reason for their success.
6. (10.) Indiana - I looked way too much into the Hoosiers' high powered offense. They put up some great numbers along the way but their absolutely awful defense let them down. Instead of my predicted 7-5 and bowl game berth, they struggled and fell to 7-5 and the bottom third of the conference.
5. (8.) Michigan - I thought the Wolverines would struggle and go 8-4. They struggled more than I expected and fell to 7-5. They largely underachieved, but I said from the beginning that I didn't like their conference schedule to add up in their favor. They are still bowl bound though.
4. (5.) Nebraska - I projected the Cornhuskers would go 8-4; which they did. They fell a spot from where I pegged them to finish, though.
3. (1.) Michigan State- Sparty's excellent defense propelled them from my 9-3 projected finish to their Big Ten Championship 12-1 finish.
2. (10.) Northwestern - Ouch. Perhaps the conference's biggest disappointment this year, the Wildcats just were not built to be able to handle the injuries that they sustained. The depth wasn't there. They were seldom blown out, though, which leaves me reason to believe that they will be back to normal next year when healthy. I thought they'd go 10-2 but they went 5-7 and missed the chance to play in a bowl game.
1. (2.) Ohio State - The Buckeyes had it all in reach. I still believe that a combination of coaching and a lack of discipline beat them against MSU than the actual Spartans did. That is not to discredit what Sparty accomplished, however, as they won the Big Ten fair and square and have earned their trip to Pasadena. It stings for Buckeye Nation, though, as they will be left wondering for years what could have been. Especially if Auburn wins.
So, there you have it. Not a single Big Ten team finished where I pegged them to, and only two finished with the record that I projected that they would. Let's hope I have better luck with my Bowl projections.
1. 12/21/13 Gildan New Mexico Bowl - Washington State Cougars v.s. Colorado State Rams
I am giving the nod to Wazzou in this game that nobody cares about.
2. 12/21/13 Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl - Fresno State Bulldogs v.s. Southern California Trojans (USC)
I really like Fresno State's quarterback Carr. USC is probably in turmoil anyway since the coach they rallied around was deemed not good enough by the administration. Bulldogs roll.
3. 12/21/13 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Buffalo Bulls v.s. San Diego State Aztecs
This game pits the Buckeyes first two opponents of the season against each other. I am taking Buffalo, especially since this will be an outdoor game in cold weather.
4. 12/21/13 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl - Tulane Green Waves v.s. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns
At least neither of these teams had to leave the state to play each other. Ragin' Cajuns is a lot more fun to say so I'm going with them.
5. 12/23/13 Beef O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl - Ohio Bobcats v.s. East Carolina Pirates
I am sticking with my guys from the MAC and picking OU!
6. 12/24/13 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl - Boise State Broncos v.s. Oregon State Beavers
About four years ago, this would have been a marquee game. Not so much anymore. With Boise's coach off to U-Dub, I'm going to roll with O-State.
7. 12/26/13 Little Caesar's Bowl - Bowling Green Falcons v.s. Pittsburgh Panthers
I really do think that the MAC is an underrated league, and BGSU is the conference champ. I think the Falcons make the short trip up to Detroit and win this game.
8. 12/26/13 S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl - Utah State Aggies v.s. Northern Illinois Huskies
NIU had their eyes set on being a BCS buster for the second consecutive year and fell just short. Lynch and company will have their revenge on the Aggies in a blow out.
9. 12/27/13 Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman - Marshall Thundering Herd v.s. Maryland Terrapins
Maryland was ranked for all of one week before being absolutely annihilated by Florida State. They should win but I am going with Marshall. I just want to hear the crowd chant "WE ARE....MARSHALL!!!"
10. 12/27/13 Texas Bowl - Syracuse Orange v.s. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Minnesota is going to be the first Big Ten team to pull through for me.
11. 12/27/13 Fight Hunger Bowl - Brigham Young Cougars (BYU) v.s. Washington Huskies
The Huskies have something to prove after their coach up and left them; for a team that is in their own conference! They will rally around the interim guy and win big in San Francisco.
12. 12/28/13 New Era Pinstripe Bowl - Rutgers Scarlet Knights v.s. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
This should actually be a good game. My hatred for all things South Bend, however, are leading me to pick Rutgers.
13. 12/28/13 Belk Bowl - Cincinnati Bearcats v.s. North Carolina Tar Heels
This should also be a good game but I have to roll with my 'Cats from the Queen City.
14. 12/28/13 Russell Athletic Bowl - Miami Hurricanes v.s. Louisville Cardinals
Teddy Bridgewater will put up big numbers in his final showing before heading off to the NFL. Cardinals!
15. 12/28/13 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl - Michigan Wolverines v.s. Kansas State Wildcats
These teams are trending in opposite directions. Big Blue started hot and ended poorly and K-State did just the opposite. Kansas State will win a shootout.
16. 12/30/13 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl - Navy Midshipmen v.s. Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders
This is a bowl named after our armed forces. Navy is playing in it. I'm picking them.
17. 12/30/13 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl - Ole Miss Rebels v.s. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Georgia Tech is one dimensional so I'm going with Ole Miss.
18. 12/30/13 Valero Alamo Bowl - Oregon Ducks v.s. Texas Longhorns
The difference is Texas wants to be here while Oregon thinks they are above it. Longhorns win one more for Mack Brown.
19. 12/30/13 National University Holiday Bowl - Arizona State Sun Devils v.s. Texas Tech Red Raiders
I prefer Tech in this game but I'd have to think that ASU wins pretty big.
20. 12/31/13 AdvoCare V100 Bowl - Arizona Wildcats v.s. Boston College Eagles
This will be a ground and pound game as it features two of the nation's best running backs. I'm taking Boston College by a field goal.
21. 12/31/13 Hyundai Sun Bowl - Virginia Tech Hokies v.s. UCLA Bruins
The Bruins are the better team this year and I think they will win this game.
22. 12/31/13 Auto Zone Liberty Bowl - Rice Owls v.s. Mississippi State Bulldogs
I'm taking the Bulldogs in a high scoring affair.
23. 12/31/13 Chik-fil-A Bowl - Duke Blue Devils v.s. Texas A&M Aggies
Again, Duke is ecstatic to be here. A&M is not. Duke wins by double digits.
24. 1/1/14 TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl - Nebraska Cornhuskers v.s. Georgia Bulldogs
Nebraska will be the first Big Ten team to expose the SEC this bowl season. Nebraska isn't that great, but neither is Georgia.
25. 1/1/14 Heart of Dallas Bowl - UNLV Rebels v.s. North Texas Mean Green
North Texas will have the home crowd and they have the better nickname. Go Green!
26. 1/1/14 Capital One Bowl - Wisconsin Badgers v.s. South Carolina Gamecocks
Wisconsin will run for over 200 yards on this over rated SEC defense and will win 24-17.
27. 1/1/14 Outback Bowl - Iowa Hawkeyes v.s. Louisiana State Tigers (LSU)
The Hawkeyes are thrilled to be back in a bowl game while LSU had much higher expectations. I believe Iowa completes the three game sweep of Big Ten v.s. SEC in bowl games this year.
28. 1/1/14 Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO - Michigan State Spartans v.s. Stanford Cardinal
This should be one of the better bowl games of the season. I think MSU scores a late touchdown to win 17-13.
29. 1/1/13 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - Central Florida Knights (UCF) v.s. Baylor Bears
Baylor's offense this year was pretty prolific but they struggled against teams that played defense. I think UCF will surprise them with their physicality and win the game.
30. 1/2/13 Allstate Sugar Bowl - Oklahoma Sooners v.s. Alabama Crimson Tide
This is a huge mismatch. The only way 'Bama loses is if they aren't mentally in the game. With Saban at the helm, I don't see that happening. Roll Tide!
31. 1/3/13 Discover Orange Bowl - Clemson Tigers v.s. Ohio State Buckeyes
This game should feature plenty of offensive fireworks. Ultimately Ohio State has more weapons and will run for 250+ yards. Buckeyes win 47-38.
32. 1/3/13 AT&T Cotton Bowl - Oklahoma State Cowboys v.s. Missouri Tigers
This game features former Big XII foes and should be another shootout. OK-State wins late.
33. 1/4/13 BBVA Compass Bowl - Vanderbilt Commodores v.s. Houston Cougars
Vandy will finish off a solid season with a bowl win.
34. 1/5/13 GoDaddy Bowl - Arkansas State Red Wolves v.s. Ball State Cardinals
Ball State should win this game pretty convincingly.
35. 1/6/13 VIZIO BCS National Championship - Florida State Seminoles v.s. Auburn Tigers
This game has all the makings of a repeat of the 2006 title game where a one loss SEC team upsets a vastly superior undefeated team. The difference, however, is that Florida Gator team played defense. Auburn does not. Florida State will shake off early butterflies and will blow this game wide open in the second half.
There it is, folks. My predictions for all 35 ridiculous bowl games. It will only get crazier next year, but I don't think anybody will miss the BCS.