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Big Ten Bowl Projections: Michigan State To Capital One Bowl; Michigan To Gator Bowl

The final Big Ten bowl projections of the season have Michigan State headed to Orlando to play Nick Saban's Alabama team. Also, they have Michigan headed to Jacksonville to play Tennessee.

If the BCS sets up as we all expect, Michigan State will be headed to Orlando to play in the Capital One Bowl. There is no uncertainty with this since the Spartans' record (11-1) is so much better than the rest of the conference's bowl eligible schools, which is four 7-5 teams and one 6-6 team.

Things are actually up in the air once you get to the Outback Bowl and other games. With there being a bunch of teams with the same record, the remaining bowls are free to select whichever schools they want. This means throwing out who beat who and all that and worrying solely about the best matchups and which teams will bring in the most revenue. Based on this method of choosing the games, here are my non-BCS Big Ten bowl projections (BCS predictions can be found here):

Capital One Bowl: Michigan State vs. Alabama

With the chance to match up Nick Saban against his former team, this is an easy call for the Capital One Bowl, especially since LSU, the other possible SEC team, played in this game last season.

Outback Bowl: Penn State vs. Florida

If this selection actually happens, there are going to be some angry people in the Big Ten and SEC. Iowa, which has the same record as the Nittany Lions and beat them, could be shuffled down to the Insight Bowl. For the SEC, South Carolina, which went to the conference's title game and beat Florida, could be pushed down to the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Why? It's simple: ratings. A PSU/UF matchup is more attractive from a ratings standpoint than putting Iowa against South Carolina.

Gator Bowl: Michigan vs. Tennessee

The reasoning for putting Michigan above Iowa is the same. Although Iowa beat the Wolverines, a Michigan/Tennessee matchup is more attractive for ratings. Just from Michigan's side you have these storylines going into the game: Rich Rodriguez's job status, Denard Robinson (one of the most exciting players in college football), Robinson and many others returning home to Florida, Michigan's maligned defense and so on. By matching the Wolverines up with Tennessee you also have a rematch of the 2002 Citrus Bowl, which the Volunteers won, 45-17. There are just too many storylines here for the Gator Bowl to pass on this matchup.

Insight Bowl: Iowa vs. Nebraska

Although Iowa fans would likely have a problem with being put in the Insight Bowl, this would actually be a really intriguing matchup. Nebraska joins the Big Ten next year and is in the same division as Iowa. These two teams are expected to have a pretty good rivalry going forward, so it would be very cool if we got a preview of it in the Insight Bowl.

Texas Bowl: Illinois vs. Baylor

It seemed like a lock for Illinois to be in this game, but thanks to the Illini's loss to Fresno State on Friday this isn't a slam-dunk pick. Even so, I still think the Texas Bowl will opt for Illinois over Northwestern since the Wildcats' starting quarterback, Dan Persa, is out for the season. Without Persa, Northwestern got beat pretty handily by Illinois, so my prediction is that his injury will cost the Wildcats a better bowl game.

TicketCity Bowl: Northwestern vs. Texas Tech

Northwestern is the only bowl eligible team left from the Big Ten, so it gets slotted in the TicketCity Bowl on New Year's Day. That's not a terrible consolation prize by any means.