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Big Ten Bowl Tie-Ins, Selection Process


Big Ten bowl tie-ins, as well selection criteria for each of the conference’s college football bowl games. 


This coming bowl season, the Big Ten will be represented in up to eight different bowl games. Here we break down just exactly how the Big Ten teams will end up in those bowl games.

When the College Football Playoff was implemented, the postseason was restructured such that the conference champion in each Power 5 conference plays in one of the New Year Six bowls. For the Big Ten, this means that the conference is guaranteed to place a team in the Rose Bowl. If conference’s champion is selected for the playoff, the Rose Bowl will have first pick of the all remaining Big Ten teams to fill the open spot.

The Big Ten could also be represented in the Orange Bowl—another of the New Year’s Six—if it has the highest remaining ranked team among the Big Ten, SEC and Notre Dame after the Rose Bowl is filled. If the Big Ten is not selected to participate in the Orange Bowl, the conference will send a representative to the Citrus Bowl instead.

After the Rose and Orange Bowls are filled, the rest of the teams are slotted into bowl games based on various factors. Unlike other conferences, the Big Ten lacks a clearly defined hierarchy in terms of bowls selections. Instead they focus on diversifying Big Ten representation in their various lower bowl games. The Citrus, Holiday, Outback and Foster Farms Bowls are all required to have at least five different teams during a six-year time period. This means that a team like Wisconsin—who has been in the Holiday and Outback Bowls the last two seasons—would likely be placed in the Citrus Bowl this season should they not be invited to the Rose or Orange.

Other pairs of bowls, like the TaxSlayer/Music City Bowl and Armed Forces/Heart of Dallas Bowl, change year-to-year as to whether a Big Ten team is placed in the bowl. A Big Ten team was put into the TaxSlayer bowl each of the last two years, so it is likely the Big Ten will be represented in the Music City Bowl this year.

The other two Big Ten bowls—the Pinstripe Bowl and Quick Lane Bowl—don’t share the exact criteria as any of the aforementioned bowls. Part of the conference’s agreement with the Pinstripe Bowl states that there should be a minimum of six different teams participating over the eight year agreement, with a stated goal of having eight different teams in eight years. The Quick Lane Bowl simply picks one of the lesser bowl eligible teams from the conference, having selected 7-5 Rutgers in 2014 and 5-7 Minnesota last season.

Below is the full schedule of bowl games with Big Ten tie-ins. As with most bowl games, the later in the season the bowl game is, the more prestigious it tends to be.

Big Ten Bowl Tie-Ins

Quick Lane Bowl

Date: Monday, December 26
Location: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
2015 game: Minnesota 21, Central Michigan 14

Selection Criteria: Any eligible Big Ten team vs. ACC/Notre Dame

Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl

Date: Tuesday, December 27
Location: Cotton Bowl Stadium, Dallas, TX
2015 Game: Washington 44, Southern Miss 31

Selection Criteria: Big Ten alternates between playing in Heart of Dallas and Armed Forces Bowl. Any eligible Big Ten team will be selected in 2016 for the Heart of Dallas Bowl in 2016 vs. a C-USA team.

Holiday Bowl

Date: Tuesday, December 27
Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
2015 Game: Wisconsin 23, USC 21

Selection Criteria: Five different teams in six years, so its unlikely Wisconsin or Nebraska will be selected in 2016. Big Ten vs. Pac-12.

Foster Farms Bowl

Date: Wednesday, December 28
Location: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
2015 Game: Nebraska 37, UCLA 29

Selection Criteria: Five different teams in six years, so its unlikely for Nebraska or Maryland to be selected in 2016. Big Ten vs. ACC.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Date: Wednesday, December 28
Location: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY
2015 Game: Duke 44, Indiana 41

Selection Criteria: Minimum six different teams in eight years, so Indiana and Penn State unlikely to be selected. Big Ten vs. ACC.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Date: Friday, December 30
Location: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
2015 Game: Louisville 27, Texas A&M 21

Selection Criteria: Big Ten alternates between playing in Music City Bowl and TaxSlayer Bowl. No Big Ten team may play in multiple TaxSlayer or Music City bowls, although no Big Ten team has been selected in the first two years of the agreement. SEC vs. Big Ten/ACC/Notre Dame.

Capital One Orange Bowl

Date: Friday, December 30
Location: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL
2015 Game: Clemson 37, Oklahoma 17 (CFP Semifinal)

Selection Criteria: When not hosting a semifinal, will select highest team of Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame to play an ACC team.

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus BowL

Date: Saturday, December 31
Location: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL
2016 Game: Michigan 41, Florida 7

Selection Criteria: Will select a Big Ten team if none is selected for the Orange Bowl. Five different teams in six years, so its unlikely Minnesota or Michigan will be selected. Big Ten vs. SEC.

TaxSlayer Bowl

Date: Saturday, December 31
Location: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL
2016 Game: Georgia 24, Penn State 17

Selection Criteria: Big Ten alternates between appearing in the Music City and TaxSlayer Bowl. No team may appear in either came more than once during six-year agreement, meaning Penn State and Iowa will not be selected. Big Ten vs. SEC

Outback Bowl

Date: Monday, January 2
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
2016 Game: Tennessee 45, Northwestern 6

Selection Criteria: Five different teams in six years, so it’s unlikely Northwestern or Wisconsin will be selected in 2016. Big Ten vs. SEC

Rose Bowl Game

Date: Monday, January 2
Location: Rose Bowl, Los Angeles, CA
2016 Game: Stanford 45, Iowa 16

Selection Criteria: Big Ten Champion, unless Big Ten champion is in playoff. Bowl game will select replacement Big Ten team if conference champ is in playoff. Big Ten vs. Pac-12.

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