How many bowl games will the Big Ten win this postseason? It's time go on the record and predict each one in chronological order.
December 27th: Pinstripe Bowl
Michigan State (6-6) vs. Wake Forest (8-4)
This is a classic contrast in styles. One team plays defense, the other doesn't. One team likes scoring, the other team often can't. But on the perennial tough sledding at Yankee Stadium for this game, I think Sparty can force a finesse team like Wake Forest down into the muck and mire with them and win it in the pitch.
Michigan State 20, Wake Forest 17
December 27th: Holiday Bowl
USC (8-4) vs. Iowa (9-3)
The current Trojans like Clay Helton, so I initially thought they'd rally to the news he's returning next season and win this game. But then Hayden Fry passed away. He's not only the greatest coach in Iowa history, he's one of the most important figures in recent state of Iowa history. It's serendipitous the Hawkeyes are facing USC in the first game after he died, since USC once tried to lure him away from Iowa City back in the day. I think that inspiration propels Iowa here.
Iowa 27, USC 24
December 28th: Cotton Bowl
Memphis (12-1) vs. Penn State (10-2)
This is a game that comes down to motivation. If the Nittany Lions are focused here, they'll be too physical for the group of five representative in the New Year's Six. But if they're not, look out, because I think Memphis will be fired up to play for Ryan Silverfield, a popular assistant promoted to the head job after Mike Norvell bolted for Florida State.
Penn State 27, Memphis 17
December 28th: Fiesta Bowl National Semifinal
Clemson (13-0) vs. Ohio State (13-0)
In what's probably the most compelling semifinal of the playoff era, this is a rematch of the 2017 Fiesta Bowl when Clemson shutout the Buckeyes in the national semifinals. But this is a much better Ohio State squad. In fact, the Buckeyes' overall power rating is on par with recent historically great teams like 2013 Florida State and 2001 Miami. Buckeyes are the far more battle-tested team, too, coming off three straight games against AP top 10 ranked foes.
Ohio State 31, Clemson 27
December 30th: Redbox Bowl
California (7-5) vs. Illinois (6-6)
This is another game of motivation. This is the the Illini's first bowl game since 2014, and their first under Lovie Smith. I have no idea how excited Cal is to go play across the bay against Illinois here. But I know Illinois will be max motivated. Both teams are carried by their defenses.
Illinois 17, California 13
January 1st: Outback Bowl
Minnesota (10-2) vs. Auburn (9-3)
Motivation comes into play in this one as well, but I don't know if that's enough to make up the talent gap. However, the Gophers have a poor man's version of the multi-receiver passing game that lit up this Auburn defense in the Iron Bowl. I also suspect P.J. Fleck will have them rowing the boat for the first 11-win season in modern school history. Nonetheless, after seeing what Auburn did to Purdue in a bowl I thought it wasn't motivated for a year ago, consider me wary.
Auburn 28, Minnesota 24
January 1st: Citrus Bowl
Michigan (9-3) vs. Alabama (10-2)
This will be a high-scoring game on a fast track. The Wolverines have the experience and firepower to exploit what's been at times a pedestrian defense by traditional Nick Saban standards. On the other hand, I don't give Michigan's secondary much of a chance in man coverage against arguably the greatest receiving corps in college football history. The other big edge in the game is Alabama's imposing offensive line against a quick, agile, but undersized Michigan defensive front. Expect Najee Harris to gash Don Brown in the running game.
Alabama 45, Michigan 31
January 1st: Rose Bowl
Oregon (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (10-3)
This is not your typical Big Ten power versus Pac-12 finesse matchup. In fact, the Ducks may have the bigger and better offensive line in this game, if you can believe that. I think they'll surprise Wisconsin with how physical they are at the point of attack. Jonathan Taylor will get his, but there's just too big of a quarterback advantage here for Oregon with top NFL Draft pick Justin Herbert versus Jack Coan.
Oregon 24, Wisconsin 21
January 2nd: Gator Bowl
Indiana (8-4) vs. Tennessee (7-5)
The winner of this game will be a trendy offseason pick for the college football smart set, but in reality both teams have a lot coming back next year. They're also two pretty evenly-matched teams, although this should feel like a road game for the Hoosiers with Vol Nation showing up in full force. And in an even game, I think that's worth a point or two on the scoreboard.
Tennessee 30, Indiana 27
What are your Big Ten bowl picks? Let us know in the comments section.