Complaining about the Big Ten’s bowl slate is one of college football’s grandest traditions. It can come from all sides, be it fans of Big Ten teams tired of seeing their teams get creamed in faraway bowl games, or fans of other teams hypothetically tired of non-competitive bowl games.
The Big Ten’s bowl tie-ins could use a serious refresh. A new game at nearby Lambeau Field would be a good start, as would breaking up that annual cluster of games in the Southeast against SEC teams.
However, instead of just swapping in a couple new games and conference opponents, I’ve come up with some new bowls to maximize entertainment value.
1. The battle of styles, in some Midwestern dome. Take the middling Big Ten team that has a great defense and bad offense and put it against a Big 12 or Pac-12 team with the opposite. It would be a grotesque stylistic battle, and someone is going to walk away looking just terrible. The defensive Big Ten team will slow down the other team’s offense just enough to stay in it, and its pop-gun offense will find an accommodating foil. If that’s not enough to get the B1G offense going, artificial turf will help.
For this past season, think Northwestern vs. Texas Tech.
2. The Relegation Bowl, somewhere in Indiana. The last-place Big Ten team will face the winner of the MAC, and loser walks. Bill Connelly talks about it just about every offseason. So let’s do it.
Purdue, Maryland and Rutgers tied for last in the conference, but Purdue would’ve gotten the nod since they finished with the worst overall record. They would have faced Bowling Green, which just so happened to beat Purdue by a touchdown in West Lafayette. With the stakes so high, I would be legitimately pumped.
3. Penn State vs. Pitt in Birmingham. If neither can get above eight wins, they are automatically rerouted to Birmingham, where their fans can scream at each other in a slightly warmer clime. Alabama and Auburn fans have a high tolerance for this behavior already, and the rest of us can watch from a safe distance.
4. Nebraska vs. Wisconsin in totally matching uniforms. There are a lot of teams that use red as their primary color in the Big Ten, but no two do it in such a similar way as Nebraska and Wisconsin. So to determine which program is the ultimate, uhhh, red team, these two will play each other, but they both have to wear their standard home uniforms. White helmets with red logos, red jerseys and white pants. Iowa probably won’t let two rivals play in its stadium, so use fellow red team Iowa State’s.
Before you ask, yes, two teams from the same conference have played in a bowl before. In fact, it was last year.
This will be so difficult to watch, someone will just give up and start wearing something else.
It will be like this, just much, much worse.
5. Harbaugh in Lambeau. If the Packers want to host a bowl, they could ensure it’s a true spectacle of oddities by making it Michigan vs. Miami.
On one side, you’d have a team from South Florida playing in Northern Wisconsin in the dead of winter.
And on the other, you’d have the cold-resistant Wolverines, led by Jim Harbaugh going shirtless in a display designed to get the other team to quit before the game starts.