With their eighth win of the season secured on Saturday, Indiana has set themselves up for a potentially attractive bowl game destination.
Nine Big Ten teams ended up achieving bowl eligibility, with Ohio State a lock to make the College Football Playoff, if as expected, they defeat Wisconsin at the Big Ten Championship this weekend.
That leaves eight teams for the bowl games with Big Ten tie-ins.
It’s crowded at the top of the Big Ten, with Penn State, Wisconsin and Minnesota all at 10-2, and then Iowa and Michigan both at 9-3 above Indiana. Some of these teams could end up in a bowl game without a Big Ten tie-in like the Orange or Cotton Bowl.
Michigan State and Illinois are also bowl eligible at 6-6.
Where things shake out at the top will impact where IU goes, but as it stands right now there are four destinations that appear to be the most likely.
- TaxSlayer Gator Bowl vs. SEC (Jacksonville, Florida, January 2, 2020), or Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl vs. SEC (Nashville, Tennessee, December 30, 2019)
- New Era Pinstripe Bowl vs. ACC (New York, NY, December 27, 2019)
- San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl vs. Pac-12 (San Diego, California, December 27, 2019)
The Gator/Music Bowls are an either/or situation. The Big Ten will get a team in one but not both. The Big Ten played in the Gator Bowl in 2015 and the Music City Bowl in 2016, 2017 and 2018. That makes the Gator Bowl the more likely scenario, but there have been reports of Music City Bowl interest in IU.)
The Holiday and Pinstripe Bowls seem to be the least likely of the four right now.
- Redbox Bowl vs. Pac-12 (Santa Clara, California, December, 30, 2019)
- Citrus Bowl vs. ACC or SEC (Orlando, Florida, January 1, 2020)
- Outback Bowl vs. SEC (Tampa, Florida, January 1, 2020)
While there are some predictions out there suggesting an IU return to the Redbox (see below), we see that as unlikely, and an unattractive option both for IU and the bowl. The Big Ten teams with records better than IU have made the Citrus and Outback unlikely.
Of the three here, the Redbox and Outback are at least still small possibilities.
OFF THE TABLE
- Quick Lane Bowl vs. ACC (Detroit, Michigan, December 26, 2019)
- Rose Bowl vs. Pac-12 (Pasadena, California, January 1, 2020)
Either Michigan State or Illinois should be Detroit bound. And while IU has a chance to secure a ninth win for the first time since their last trip to the Rose Bowl (1967), there will be no return trip to Pasadena in 2020.
- Brad Crawford (247Sports) — Gator Bowl, vs. Tennessee
- Bill Bender (Sporting News) — Redbox Bowl, vs. Washington
- Eric Single (Sports Illustrated) — Pinstripe Bowl, vs. Virginia Tech
- Jerry Palm (CBS Sports) — Pinstripe Bowl, vs. Pittsburgh
- College Football News — Gator Bowl, vs. Kentucky
Look for Indiana’s bowl game announcement to come on Dec. 8 after the College Football Playoff and six New Year’s Day games are announced.
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