Big Ten Bowl Preview

With the Big Ten beginning bowl play Tuesday, Badger Nation looks at the eight conference teams that will be bowling this post season.

MADISON – With the Big Ten matching the conference record for most bowl berths in a single season and sending a pair of teams to Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games for the 10th time in the system's 13 years, the conference finds itself with a perfect position to make an impact on the national stage.

With the conference's first team –Iowa – kickoff off the conference's bowl slate on Tuesday, we give a breakdown of the eight teams that will go bowling.

- Iowa (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten) is bowl-eligible for the 10th consecutive year and will take part in its ninth postseason game in that time span with the program's first trip to Tempe (Ariz.) and the Insight Bowl, squaring off against Big 12 foe Missouri (10-2, 6-2 Big 12) on Tuesday. The program has produced a bowl record of 13-10-1 and has won its last two postseason outings, defeating Georgia Tech in the 2010 Orange Bowl and knocking off South Carolina in the 2009 Outback Bowl.

The Hawkeyes entered this season as the nation's ninth-ranked team, with hopes of a Big Ten title, but lost their final three games to finish fourth in the conference. The Hawkeyes will play without all-Big Ten wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (drug charges) and sophomore running back Adam Robinson (failing to comply with team expectations and policies).

- Illinois (6-6, 4-4) will make its first bowl trip since playing in the 2008 Rose Bowl when it faces Baylor (7-5, 4-4 Big 12) on Wednesday in the Texas Bowl in Houston. Illinois has posted a 6-9 bowl record and Head coach Ron Zook will take part in the fourth bowl game of his career and his second at the helm of the Illini. Baylor clinched its first winning season since 1995. The Illini have recorded eight losing seasons and played in two bowls since beating Virginia 63-21 in the 1999 Bowl in its last non-BCS bowl appearance.

- Northwestern (7-5, 3-5) will play in a third straight bowl game for the first time in program history when the school participates in the inaugural TicketCity Bowl, one of the Big Ten's newest bowls, against Texas Tech (7-5, 3-5 Big 12) on Saturday in Dallas. After making only one bowl trip in its first century of college football, the program will be appearing in its eighth bowl since the 1995 season. Fitzgerald has led Northwestern to three straight bowl games, including narrow overtime defeats in the 2008 Alamo Bowl and the 2010 Outback Bowl. Northwestern has not won a bowl game since the 1949 Rose Bowl.

- Michigan State (11-1, 7-1) returns to Orlando's Capital One Bowl for the second time in three seasons and will make its fourth straight bowl appearance, matching a school record set following the 1987-90 campaigns, and will challenge face (9-3, 5-3 SEC) on Saturday. The Spartans won a share of its first conference title in 20 years under Mark Dantonio, who is the first head coach in school history to lead Michigan State to bowl games in each of his first four seasons on campus. The Spartans will be without leading receiver B.J. Cunningham, who is out after breaking his foot in practice Dec. 18. Cunningham led the team with 50 receptions for 611 yards and nine touchdowns. Dantonio served as Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban's assistant at Michigan State from 1995-99 until Saban left for LSU.

- Penn State (7-5, 4-4) will take part in its sixth straight bowl game and will look to maintain their undefeated record in the Outback Bowl (3-0) when it faces Florida (7-5, 4-4 SEC) on Saturday in Tampa. Head coach Joe Paterno will make his 37th bowl appearance at Penn State and boasts 24 victories, both of which stand as NCAA records. Overall, the school has built a 27-13-2 record in postseason play, including a 10-3 mark since joining the Big Ten. Paterno's 10 bowl triumphs since joining the Big Ten is a record for head coaches while leading conference programs. On the opposite sideline, Head Coach Urban Meyer, who has led Florida to two national championships, will be stepping down after the game.

- Embattled Rich Rodriguez will coach his first bowl game as Wolverines coach when Michigan (7-5, 3-5) plays its first post-season game since winning the ‘08 Capitol One Bowl when it plays Mississippi State (8-4, 4-4 SEC) Saturday in Jacksonville. Question surround whether Rodriguez will coach next season but in order to boost his job security, he lean heavily on sophomore quarterback Denard Robinson, who helped guide an offense that ranked sixth in the FBS with an average of 500.9 yards. Robinson, the conference's player of the year, set the NCAA record for most rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,643.

- Wisconsin (11-1, 7-1) returns to the Rose Bowl Game for the first time since 2000 and will take part in its third BCS contest, the third-highest total among conference schools behind only Ohio State (nine BCS games) and Michigan (four). The Badgers have played in six Rose Bowl Games, including triumphs in each of their last three trips following the 1993, 1998 and 1999 seasons, and will face Mountain West Champion Texas Christian (12-0, 8-0 Mountain West) Saturday. Head coach Bret Bielema will make his fifth bowl appearance in as many seasons at the helm, including victories in the 2007 Capital One Bowl and 2009 Champs Sports Bowl. Wisconsin will take part in a program-record ninth straight bowl game and has played in 21 overall bowl contests with an 11-10 record. The Big Ten has produced a 30-33 record in the Rose Bowl Game.

- Ohio State (11-1, 7-1) will play in its sixth straight BCS contest when the Buckeyes take part in the Sugar Bowl for the first time since 1999 will battle Arkansas (10-2, 6-2 SEC) on Tuesday, Jan. 4. OSU is the only program in the country to qualify for nine BCS games in the 13-year history of the system. The six-time defending Big Ten Champions are making their 11th consecutive bowl excursion, including 10 straight under head coach Jim Tressel, and its 42nd overall (19-22), which leads all Big Ten programs. This game will feature the quarterback, as Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor and Arkansas' Ryan Mallett are finalists for the Manning Award, presented to the nation's top QB.

for more free content on Wisconsin, click on

Badger Nation Top Stories