Michigan State and Michigan appear destined for Florida bowl games, although the Big Ten championship game Saturday night could have some impact on how the dominoes fall.
But Jerry Palm of CBS Sports, who among his assignments projects bowl pairings and the NCAA basketball Tournament field, said it appears Michigan State (9-3) will play LSU in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando on Jan. 1, and Michigan (8-4) will face South Carolina in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 in Tampa.
Wisconsin and Ohio State play for the Big Ten title Saturday night, and the bowl pairings will officially be announced on Sunday.
“The Big Ten bowl situation depends on how many end up in the New Year Six bowls, and I don’t see a scenario that they don’t get three in,” Palm said.
Palm has Wisconsin as the No. 4 team in the College Football Playoff, Ohio State in the Peach Bowl and Penn State in the Cotton.
The Big Ten is the only conference that has the final say in where its teams play in bowl games. And while the conference discourages having a team play too often in the same region, exceptions are made. For instance, Michigan has played in Florida its last two bowl games, but because the Orange Bowl, where the Wolverines played last year, is considered a selection-committee game, the Big Ten doesn’t count that as a conference tie-in game.
Until Thursday, Palm projected Michigan playing in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. The fact the Big Ten wants to place teams that travel well and will buy tickets changed his mind.
“Michigan is a better draw than Northwestern,” Palm said, referring to the Outback. He now has the Wildcats projected for the Holiday Bowl.
Michigan State last played in the Citrus Bowl in 2011, and Michigan last played in the Outback in 2013, ironically, against South Carolina.
If three Big Ten teams aren’t in New Year’s Six games, Michigan State could move to the Outback and Michigan potentially to the Holiday, but Palm is sticking with Wisconsin, Ohio State and Penn State playing in those games.