And so we begin the long, dark nights of bye week.
On the heels of a loss to the hated Wolverines (coached in the second half by eyeglass aficionado and longtime State Farm representative Tim Harbaugh), we are left to our own devices, aimless, without the comforting anchor of a game this Saturday. We are adrift in a sea of ennui, still smarting from defeat, begging for something to fill the void.
What to do?
Yup. That’s it.
They say that idle hands are the devil’s playthings. Whew boy, has that proven true, for in this quiet time of crushing introspection and pumpkin spice lattes, we have stumbled upon the ultimate, totally perfect, absolutely-pointless-but-oh-man-so-much-fun activity to fill the chilly fall nights.
It’s BOWL SPECULATION TIME!
Cue the music. Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up.
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl, Dallas TX (Match-Up: Conference USA (hey, that’s still a thing!); Odds of Participation: 250-1; Level of Interest: 0.47%).
Ok - so the Big Ten Bowl Selection Rules read about as clearly the Handbook for the Recently Deceased, so I apologize in advance for any and all mistakes. I am going in the order outlined in the BTBSR, so if you don’t like it, take it up with the good people at the Big Ten communications office.
From best I can tell, the HoD Bowl has dibs on a B1G team this year as part of its alternating back-and-forth selection tag-team with bottom-of-the-table pick partner Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. Don’t read too much into the odds. They have nothing to do with the Badgers. I just find it highly unlikely that the Big Ten will scrape together enough eligible teams for this gem to even come into the equation. Fun game: name as many C-USA teams as you can without Googling the conference. Take a drink for every one you miss (ed. note: do not do this, you will die).
Quick Lane Bowl, Detroit, MI (Match-Up: ACC; Odds of Participation: 75-1; Level of Interest: 3.23%)
Ah man, I forgot there was one of these in Detroit. Jeez. Ok. Well, so here’s the thing. Sure, if you end up in Detroit, things have gone horribly wrong. You’re probably 6-6. Your quarterback AND your back-up quarterbacks have been declared ineligible or landed on IR with a wicked case of the rickets and fisherman’s gout respectively. But Detroit is fun. Greektown is nice. Canada is, like, right there, man. There’s even an ACC match-up. Ok, let’s hope this cup passes us by and move on.
Foster Farms Bowl, Santa Clara, CA (Match-Up: PAC 12; Odds of Participation: 30-1; Level of Interest 7.01%)
Winner, winner, chicken dinner! One of my favorite games at bowl time is to look at all the bowl swag bestowed upon the young men participating in the festivities. I thought FOR SURE that the Foster Farms Bowl would have given everyone a frozen turkey last year. I appear to be wrong (though I still hold out hope that it is included in the just-a-little-too-innocuously-phrased "gift suite").
Anyway, this would be meh. It probably means we dropped a bunch of games to teams we shouldn’t have and could salvage the season against a mid-tier PAC 12 team. Yay.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl, New York, NY (Match-Up: ACC; Odds of Participation: 17-1; Level of Interest: 34.52%)
So, for reasons that are not abundantly clear, I am way more into this bowl than any of the lower tiered bowls (and by "not abundantly clear" I mean that I moved to Connecticut a few weeks ago and could easily take the train down). When the time comes for the Badgers to take the field at Yankee Stadium (and odds are pretty good that they will at some point - the Big Ten has committed to fielding six different teams in eight years), the NYC-based Wisconsin diaspora will likely be out in force. Financy, lawyerly force.
So now the math starts getting complicated. These two essentially share a selection. According to the helpful staff over at College Football News, the Big Ten went to the Taxslayer last year, so it’s pretty likely that this year’s pick is going to Nashville. That’s fine, in the Battle of ‘Villes, Nashville > Jacksonville. It’s a fun town, within driving distance of Madison, and a novel location. Either way, they’ll catch a mid-table SEC team. Even with the hot start to the year, I wonder if this might be the spot?
No Holiday Bowl or Outback Bowl, say the folks at CFN, since the Badgers played in each in the past few years. Brian Bennett thinks the Outback is in play. We know these bowls and I think they pass on the Badgers either way, so we’ll move on.
Capital One Orange Bowl, Miami, FL (Match-Up: ACC; Odds of Participation: 40-1; Level of Interest: 100%) OR Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL (Match-Up: SEC; Odds of Participation: 12-1; Level of Interest: 63.12%)
Oh man, it’s Orange Bowl year.
By virtue of the fact it is not hosting the semifinal this year, the Orange will take a Big Ten rep if it is the highest ranked non-playoff participant between the Big Ten/SEC/Notre Dame (lolz). Unless the Big Ten team is the league champion (or a replacement) which goes to the Rose.
So if, say, the Badgers are a one-loss West representative in the Big Ten Championship and lose to an undefeated playoff participant Michigan (so much ugh writing that sentence) and finish juuuust below a highly-ranked two-loss Ohio State (which would then go to the Rose to replace the Harbaurines), and juuuust above the next eligible SEC team, UW would get the call. Sounds like something that could absolutely happen (and yes, I realize in that scenario the Badgers beat the Buckeyes - life ain’t fair y’all).
The Citrus Bowl, on the other hand, got bumped by the NFL and is a New Year’s Eve game this year (11:00 a.m. ET start). We’ve played the New Year’s bowl against an SEC team plenty of times by now, but I wonder if maybe this year might be a little different (more on that below).
Rose Bowl Game, Pasadena, CA (Match-Up: Pac-12; Odds of Participation: 40-1; Level of Interest: All. All of the interest).
The Big Ten champion heads to Pasadena unless it’s a playoff participant, so this one is a bit less complicated than the Orange. If the Badgers win the Big Ten, but miss the playoffs (say, a two-loss UW upsets Ohio State or Michigan in the Big Ten Championship Game), that oughta do it.
If the Big Ten champion gets a playoff birth, the Rose gets first dibs on a replacement, so there’s a decent chance it could take the Badgers to replace a champion from the East. I’m guessing that a highly ranked, two-loss UW that finished as West champ would be very attractive. I suspect, however, it would take a drop off from either the Wolverbaughs or the Buckeyes for the Badgers to jump those teams, given the hype surrounding them this year (don’t sweat it too much, in that scenario, I think the Badgers end up in the Orange).
Playoffs - Nah. I think that talk died out with the Michigan loss. If Badgers run the table, then we’ll revisit. Otherwise, a two-loss UW is probably not making it without a ton of chaos in the Top 10.
The Prediction - I think the moment we’ve all been waiting four years to arrive has come.
I think we end up in the Citrus.
On New Years Eve.
Against a quality SEC opponent on the rise.
Coached by this guy:
A warm thought to keep you up nights. Happy bye week everyone.