Rutgers has one of the toughest paths in the country to bowl eligibility in 2014, but will finally have a conference with the tie-ins to truly reward strong seasons. Highlighted by the creation of a college football playoff, in which the Big Ten is eligible, the new conference opens doors for the growing Scarlet Knights.
The Big Ten champion either earns a spot in the BCS playoff, or heads to the granddaddy of them all – the Rose Bowl. There's no hoping for a favorable at-large bid as a member of the Big Ten.
AAC Tie – Fiesta, Peach, Cotton or Playoff
AAC Tie – BBVA Compass
More Big Ten and SEC in the Sunshine State. An LSU victory over Iowa last season, the Outback Bowl takes place at Raymond James Stadium – the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the site of multiple Rutgers victories over South Florida.
AAC Tie – St. Petersburg
A winter week spent in San Diego is a welcome site for any cold-conference team, and another Pac-12 opponent presents an attractive game site.
AAC Tie – Miami Beach
That's right – two more warm-weather bowl sites for the Big Ten. The Big Ten alternates with the ACC annually for the Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, Fla.) and the Music City Bowl (Nashville, Tenn.). Both games feature SEC opponents with Nebraska beating Georgia last season in the Gator Bowl.
AAC Tie -- Military
Played at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., this game became another Big Ten vs. Pac-12 opportunity in the offseason. The last time a Big Ten team played in the Fight Hunger Bowl, Illinois beat UCLA on New Year's Eve in 2011.
AAC Tie – Armed Forces
This one might seem a tad familiar to Rutgers fans. The Scarlet Knights have two appearances in the first four years since the game's inception and drew well in both. Played at Yankee Stadium, Rutgers fell to 6-7 on the season last year with a loss to Notre Dame. Rutgers beat Iowa State in 2011 behind MVP Jawan Jamison.
AAC Tie – Bahamas Bowl
This newly created bowl game by the Detroit Lions pits Big Ten against ACC at Ford Field. Ford Field has hosted many big-time events, including the Final Four, Super Bowl XL and WrestleMania XXIII.
If the Big Ten is able to get a ninth team bowl eligible, the Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas) and the Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, Texas) are destinations on alternating years. Both pit Big Ten or Big 12 against Conference USA.