Big Ten Football Bowl Preview
Quick Lane Bowl: Dec. 26
Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-6) vs Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (7-5)
Minnesota’s balanced attack against Georgia Tech’s triple option will be the focus of the game. Minnesota was able to become bowl eligible by beating their rival, Wisconsin, for the first time in 14 years. The Golden Gophers are led by freshman running back Muhammad Ibrahim who leads the team with 936 rushing yards and averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Similar to Minnesota, Georgia Tech missed a bowl game last year and was looking to compete in the ACC this year. They started the year with a 1-3 record, but were able to manage a four-game winning streak at the end of the season before losing to Georgia. Look for TaQuan Smith to lead the nation’s 21st-best offense.
Pinstripe Bowl: Dec. 27
Miami Hurricanes (7-5) vs Wisconsin Badgers (7-5)
Both teams will square off in the postseason again after Wisconsin beat Miami in the Orange Bowl last year. Miami and Wisconsin both entered the season with high expectations, but both ended up having disappointing years. Miami lost to LSU early in the season, but was 5-1 at the midpoint of the season. However, Malik Rosier and the offense struggled greatly and caused the team to lose four straight. The Hurricanes still own the second-best defense in total points allowed. Wisconsin had a similar season with running back Jonathan Taylor leading the team. The Badgers average 100 more rushing yards per game than passing yards, which makes it easy for teams to focus on Taylor.
Music City Bowl: Dec. 28
Purdue Boilermakers (6-6) vs Auburn Tigers (7-5)
The first ever matchup between the two teams will take place in Nashville. The Purdue offense has been stellar, being led by quarterback David Blough and wide receiver Rondale Moore. However, the defense has been inconsistent, allowing 445 yards per game. Auburn has a similar story with the defense allowing 366 yards per game and being carried by the offense. The struggles for the Auburn offense is in the red zone, as they rank 75th in efficiency.
Peach Bowl: Dec. 29
No. 10 Florida Gators(9-3) vs No. 7 Michigan Wolverines(10-2)
After facing each other in the 2016 Citrus Bowl, the teams will square off again in a New Years’ Six Bowl. Both teams are really strong defensively, especially in the secondary. They also both run the ball really well and will look to use their physical offenses to their advantage. The difference in this game will be which team can make the biggest plays and control the ball.
Redbox Bowl: Dec. 31
Michigan State Spartans(7-5) vs Oregon Ducks(8-4)
The Oregon Ducks average 445 yards per game this year thanks to running backs CJ Verdell and Travis Dye as well as quarterback Justin Herbert. If Herbert chooses to leave a year early, he will definately be one of the top quarterbacks selected in the draft after throwing 28 touchdowns this year. The Ducks run defense has been much better in the latter half of the season, but the secondary remains the weakness of the team. Michigan State struggles to throw the ball, but will look to control the clock and keep Herbert off the field.
Holiday Bowl: Dec. 31
No. 22 Northwestern Wildcats (8-5) vs No. 17 Utah Utes (9-4)
Despite Utah not making the Rose Bowl, they will still face a top-25 team in Northwestern. The key matchup will be Northwestern’s offense against Utah’s defense. Northwestern’s offense isn’t great, but it has managed to score enough points to compete with Notre Dame and Michigan. Their defense will allow them to stay in the game, but the offense will battle one of the best defenses in the country. Utah has playmakers all over the field and rank in the top-25 in defensive efficiency. Northwestern must look to wear them down by running the ball.
Outback Bowl: Jan. 1
No. 18 Mississippi State(8-4) vs Iowa Hawkeyes(8-4)
Iowa will be without its best offensive weapon in tight end Noah Fant as he prepares for the NFL Draft. Iowa has been uncharacteristically good on offense this year averaging 30 points per game. However, Mississippi State has the No.1 rated defense in the country holding teams to 12 points per game. The Iowa defense is very strong too and will face an offense that has averaged 35 points per game over the last four games.
Citrus Bowl: Jan. 1
No. 14 Kentucky Wildcats(9-3) vs No. 12 Penn State Nittany Lions(9-3)
Both teams are entering the game on winning streaks and have similar strengths. They both rank in the top 20 in points allowed per game. Kentucky’s running game is its strength led by Benny Snell. Penn State must stop Snell and have success in their passing game in order to win.
Rose Bowl: Jan. 1
No. 9 Washington Huskies(10-3) vs No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes(12-1)
Ohio State enters the game with a five-game winning streak, while Washington’s offense has been spectacular after tight end Hunter Bryant returned from his injury. Washington has a balanced attack led by running back Myles Gaskin. The defense is one of the best in the country, allowing 15 points per game. However, Ohio State is known for creating big plays led by quarterback Dwayne Haskins and wide receiver Paris Campbell. The team averages 45 points per game and will look to continue its momentum against the Huskies.
Matthew White is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism with a double minor in Business and Spanish. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.