Motor City Bowl still committed to Big Ten

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

As Ohio State inches closer to a BCS at-large berth, the Motor City Bowl inches farther away from having a Big Ten representative in Detroit on Dec. 26.

Unfortunately for Motor City Bowl executive director Ken Hoffman, this scenario has been the rule rather than the exception.

Since becoming a Big Ten tie-in bowl in 2002, the Motor City has hosted only two Big Ten squads, Northwestern in 2003 and Purdue last year. Should Ohio State reach a BCS bowl as expected, the Big Ten won't have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill its Motor City spot for the fifth time in seven seasons.

"We would certainly like to have Big Ten representation here," Hoffman said Thursday. "That's why we signed the contract with the Big Ten. We share the same geography as the Mid-American Conference and the same fan base, essentially. But the good news is we have lots of other, positive, very strong options, and that's what we'll do this year if Ohio State gets a BCS at-large spot."

One of those options appears to be Rutgers. If Ohio State goes to the BCS and Rutgers beats Louisville tonight, the Motor City Bowl could swap choices with the International Bowl and take the Scarlet Knights. It would set up a possible matchup with No. 12 Ball State, which plays in the MAC Championship Game on Friday night (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET).

Since 2002, the Big East has placed the same number of teams as the Big Ten in the Motor City Bowl, with Boston College going in 2002 and Connecticut in 2004.

"We have a verbal agreement with [the Big East]," Hoffman said. "We're going to have to see what the results are of the game tonight and Saturday, but there's a very good chance that it could happen."

If Ohio State is somehow left out of the BCS, the Motor City Bowl would select the seventh Big Ten team, most likely Minnesota.

The lack of Big Ten representation in the Motor City Bowl over the years doesn't concern Hoffman, who noted that last season the Big Ten had 10 bowl-eligible teams and two (Iowa and Northwestern) stayed home.

"It's just one of those situations," Hoffman said. "This year was 30 percent fewer bowl-eligible teams out of the Big Ten. Next year could be 10 again. You just don't know from year to year."