For the 12th straight year and 19th time overall, the Big Ten will send five or more teams to postseason play. In the 10 years prior to this season, Conference teams made 64 bowl appearances, including a League-record eight bowl participants in 2003. Overall, Big Ten institutions have made 206 bowl appearances entering the 2004 campaign -- the third-highest total of all Division I-A conferences.
Michigan (9-2 overall, 7-1 Big Ten) returns to the Rose Bowl for the second straight season for the first time since the 1991-92 campaigns, as the Big Ten Co-Champions will face an opponent to be determined on January 1 at 5 p.m. EST in Pasadena, California. The Wolverines earned a share of the 2004 Big Ten title and claimed the League's Bowl Championship Series automatic bid based on a victory over Iowa. Michigan will be making its 19th appearance in the "granddaddy of all bowl games" and will be playing in a New Year's Day bowl for the ninth straight year. The program will take part in a bowl game for the 30th straight season, which currently ranks second for consecutive bowl appearances behind Nebraska's 35 straight postseason bids entering the 2004 campaign. The Wolverines are 18-17 overall in bowl games, including five wins in the last seven trips, and 8-10 in Pasadena. The Big Ten and Pac-10 have squared off 58 times in the Rose Bowl with each conference coming away with 29 victories, although the Big Ten boasts four wins in its last six appearances.
Co-Big Ten Champion Iowa (9-2, 7-1) has accepted a bid to the Capital One Bowl for the first time in program history as the squad will battle an SEC opponent on January 1 at 1 p.m. EST in Orlando, Florida. The Hawkeyes clinched their fourth straight bowl excursion under Big Ten Coach of the Year Kirk Ferentz for the first time since appearing in eight straight postseason events from 1981-88. Iowa has played in 19 bowl games all-time, building a record of 10-8-1, including a victory over Florida in last season's Outback Bowl. The Big Ten has produced a 6-8 record in the Capital One Bowl, including a narrow 34-27 overtime loss by Purdue last season.
Wisconsin (9-2, 6-2) will be making its first trip to the Outback Bowl since 1997 as the Badgers will take on a team from the SEC on January 1 at 11 a.m. EST in Tampa Bay, Florida. Wisconsin has played in 15 bowl games, including 10 of the last 12 years under the guidance of head coach Barry Alvarez, who has won four of his last five postseason games and holds a 7-2 record in bowl action. Big Ten squads maintain a 7-8 mark in the Outback Bowl, including two straight victories by Iowa in 2003 and Michigan in 2002 and a 1-1 tally for the Badgers.
Ohio State (7-4, 4-4) will be making its first appearance in San Antonio, Texas, for the Alamo Bowl as the team will square off against a Big 12 representative on December 29 at 8 p.m. EST. The Buckeyes are making their fifth consecutive bowl excursion, including four straight under head coach Jim Tressel, as OSU picked up wins in the last two Fiesta Bowls. Ohio State will be playing in its 36th bowl, which is tied with Michigan for the League lead, and holds a 16-19 record in postseason play. The Big Ten boasts a 6-4 ledger in the Alamo Bowl, including triumphs in six of the last eight games.
Purdue (7-4, 4-4) will take part in the Sun Bowl for the third time in the last four seasons, as the program will battle a Pac-10 foe on December 31 at 2 p.m. EST in El Paso, Texas. The Boilermakers have earned an eighth consecutive postseason bid for the first time in school history, as head coach Joe Tiller has led his squad to a bowl game in each of his eight years on campus. Purdue is 7-5 all-time in bowls, including splitting a pair of Sun Bowls with a win over Washington in 2002 and a loss to Washington State in 2001. Big Ten teams are 5-5 overall in the Sun Bowl.
Minnesota (6-5, 3-5) is also bowl eligible. Big Ten participation in the Music City Bowl and the Motor City Bowl will not be determined until after the results of Saturday's game between Northwestern (6-5, 5-3) and Hawaii in Honolulu are known.