Big Ten bowl projections 2023-24: Predictions for Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and more

As December arrives, the only thing standing between the Big Ten and bowl season is the Conference Championship Game between Michigan and Iowa on Saturday, December 2nd (which, in all fairness to Iowa, isn't expected to be a particularly close match-up). Beyond that, the focus is on what the bowl game landscape will look like for the conference's eligible teams.

For some, like undefeated juggernaut Michigan, all signs point towards a spot in the College Football Playoff semifinals in either the Rose Bowl or Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day. For others, there's significantly more uncertainty, particularly amidst the complex puzzle of bowl game sponsorship and school affiliations.

But for all nine of the Big Ten's bowl eligible teams, there's the opportunity for big wins on the national stage, in the final year before the conference moves away from the division model, adds USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington to the field, and gears up for an expanded College Football Playoff. Keep reading for bowl eligibility and projections for all of the Big Ten teams, as well as the full College Football Playoff rankings entering Week 14.

College Football Bowl Game Schedule 2023-24: Complete list, dates, times, TV channels and more

What Big Ten teams are bowl eligible in 2023-24?

In total, nine Big Ten teams are bowl eligible for 2023-24: Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Maryland, Rutgers, Iowa, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

While Minnesota did not hit six wins (the Golden Gophers finished the season 5-7), they were added to the field by virtue of their Academic Progress Ranking score and the dearth of 6-6 teams to choose from.

Which Big Ten teams are not Bowl eligible?

In the final season with 14 Big Ten teams before arrivals from the west coast, five teams will not be going bowling: Michigan State, Indiana, Nebraska, Illinois and Purdue.

Michigan State is coming off a particularly turbulent and disappointing season, and announced the hiring of new head coach Jonathan Smith on November 25th. Nebraska, formerly a conference powerhouse, will miss out on a bowl game for the 7th straight season. Illinois and Purdue miss out after both playing in bowl games last season, while Indiana, who fired head coach Tom Allen in late November, is out of the mix for the second straight season.

College Football Playoff ‘chaos’ scenarios

Big Ten Bowl Projections for 2023-24

Michigan Wolverines

Undefeated and currently No. 2 in the CFP rankings, Michigan is expected to be back in the College Football Playoff (the Wolverines have lost in the semifinals the last two years, including a wild 51-45 upset by the TCU Horned Frogs last year, and are hoping third time's the charm). Michigan is coming off their biggest win of the season, a 30-24 victory over Ohio State without Jim Harbaugh. Even with the Big Ten Championship game against Iowa still ahead of them, Michigan should land in either the Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA) or Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA) with a shot to play for the National Championship, assuming they take care of business this weekend.

Ohio State Buckeyes

It's not completely out of the realm of possibility that No. 6 Ohio State could end up in the College Football Playoff (losses from Texas, Florida State and Alabama would help) but a more likely landing spot is the Orange Bowl (Miami, FL), which features the ACC against the highest-ranked available SEC or Big Ten team, or Notre Dame.

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Penn State Nittany Lions

No. 10 Penn State is the other team ranked in the CFP Rankings, and at 10-2 is expected to feature in one of the New Year's Six bowl matchups. The Peach Bowl (Atlanta, GA) could be a likely landing spot for the Nittany Lions - it would be their first Peach Bowl trip in a century of bowling trips.

Maryland Terrapins

Multiple experts have 7-5 Maryland headed to the Las Vegas Bowl (Las Vegas, NV) for a possible meeting with Utah, or potentially future conference opponent USC. The Terrapins' season was fueled by a powerhouse season from quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, who led the Big Ten in touchdown passes, passing yards, and yards per game in his redshirt senior season, but the Terrapins still couldn't avoid their usual momentum slowdown in the second half of the season.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

After finishing the 2023 season 6-6, Rutgers returned to bowl eligibility for the first time since 2014 (in the 2021 season, the team appeared in the Gator Bowl against Wake Forest but as a replacement for Texas A&M, which withdrew amidst a COVID-19 outbreak). Despite a season-ending loss to Maryland, it's a positive step for the Scarlet Knights, who could reportedly be bound for the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl (New York, NY), where they last made an appearance in the 2013 season (a loss to Notre Dame).

Iowa Hawkeyes

The Iowa squad likely isn't thinking about bowl season yet: they still have a huge matchup with Michigan ahead of them in the Big Ten Championship Game. At 10-2 they stand atop the Big Ten West (the last team to ever do so, with the conference moving away from the divisional format in 2024) but are massive underdogs heading into the meeting with Michigan.

After that, the Hawkeyes are likely contenders for a trip to the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl (Orlando, FL), which hosts the top Big Ten and SEC teams outside of the College Football Playoff semifinals and the New Year's Six bowls (Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Orange, Cotton and Peach).

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Northwestern Wildcats

Seven-win Northwestern is bowl-bound, a stunning outcome after the program went 1-11 last year and started the 2023 season firing head coach Pat Fitzgerald amidst hazing and abuse allegations. Interim head coach David Braun was officially named to the permanent role in November (and named Big Ten coach of the year just this week), and under his leadership the Cats are one of the biggest surprises of the college football season.

There's still some uncertainty about what bowl game they're headed to, but several experts have the team projected to head to the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix the day after Christmas.

Wisconsin Badgers

Here's another case without clear consensus - some experts have the Badgers headed to the Music City Bowl, while others have them slated for the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl (New York, NY) or the Las Vegas Bowl (Las Vegas, NV). After a 7-5 season under first-year head coach Luke Fickell, Wisconsin has the chance to win a bowl game for the fourth consecutive season (they most recently defeated Oklahoma State in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl last year). Win or lose, it will be the team's 22nd straight bowl game - the longest active streak in the Big Ten.

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Despite their 5-7 finish, the Golden Gophers are going bowling thanks to their smarts: the team had the highest Academic Progress rate amongst 5-7 teams and were slotted in to fill out the field of bowl eligible teams. Top landing spots for Minnesota include the Quick Lane Bowl (Detroit, MI) and the Guaranteed Rate Bowl (Phoenix, AZ), both of which they've played in within the last five years.

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College Football Playoff Rankings - Entering Week 14

Big Ten teams noted in bold italics
1. Georgia (12-0)
2. Michigan (12-0)
3. Washington (12-0)
4. Florida State (12-0)
5. Oregon (11-1)
6. Ohio State (11-1)
7. Texas (11-1)
8. Alabama (11-1)
9. Missouri (10-2)
10. Penn State (10-2)
11. Mississippi (10-2)
12. Oklahoma (10-2)
13. LSU (9-3)
14. Louisville (10-2)
15. Arizona (9-3)
16. Iowa (10-2)
17. Notre Dame (9-3)
18. Oklahoma State (9-3)
19. NC State (9-3)
20. Oregon State (8-4)
21. Tennessee (8-4)
22. Tulane (11-1)
23. Clemson (8-4)
24. Liberty (12-0)
25. Kansas State (8-4)