Like every year, the bowls will distribute gifts to each of the participating players (the NCAA allows bowls to distribute up to $550 for 125 players per team). Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal has the complete list of bowl swag.
Let's take a look:
Texas Bowl (Minnesota): Samsung Galaxy Tab 3; Fossil watch; belt buckle, T-shirt; Ogio backpack; lapel pin
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl (Nebraska): Fossil watch; Dome hat; Mercury Luggage Seward Trunk luggage set; football, Jostens ring
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Michigan): Gift suite; Fossil watch; Ogio Cube backpack
Outback Bowl (Iowa): $150 Best Buy gift card; Fossil watch; cap; Jostens ring, Outback Steakhouse gift card
Capital One Bowl (Wisconsin): $450 Best Buy gift card and shopping trip; Timely Watch Co. watch; Russell Athletic workout shirt
Discover Orange Bowl (Ohio State): Gift suite; Tourneau watch
Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO (Michigan State): Gift suite; Fossil watch; New Era 59Fifty cap; Ogio backpack
Gift suites allow players to select from a list of items, which include electronics, jewlery, headphones and even mountain bikes. Sports Business Journal notes that a home theater recliner with built-in USB ports will be part of gift suites this year. I was with Northern Illinois players as they collected their gift suites at the 2013 Orange Bowl. There were a lot of options.
What are your thoughts on the bowl swag? Wisconsin players look like the big winners, but the gift suites at the BCS bowls should be pretty impressive.
We'll be breaking down these games for the next few weeks, but we wanted to share our first impressions of the lineup:
Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO, Jan. 1: Michigan State vs. Stanford
Discover Orange Bowl, Jan. 3: Ohio State vs. Clemson
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin vs. South Carolina
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: Iowa vs. LSU
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 28: Michigan vs. Kansas State
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, Jan. 1: Nebraska vs. Georgia
Texas Bowl, Dec. 27: Minnesota vs. Syracuse
Let's begin ...
Adam Rittenberg's first impressions
Worst game: Gator. I'm probably not as upset about this one as Brian (or most Nebraska fans), but a rematch of last season's Capital One Bowl featuring two teams playing without their starting quarterbacks doesn't move the needle. At least running backs Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska) and Todd Gurley (Georgia) are fun to watch.
Sneaky good game: Capital One Bowl. Not sure how sneaky this one is, but both teams are talented on both sides of the ball and easily could have better records. The game features the nation's most talented defender in South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney against one of the nation's most accomplished defenders in Wisconsin's Chris Borland. The Badgers' seniors want to go out on a good note after a stunning home loss to Penn State, not to mention three consecutive losses in the Rose Bowl.
The bowl season will be a success if: The Big Ten records a winning record with at least one BCS bowl win. This season's lineup is slightly more favorable, and four wins certainly isn't out of the question. Ohio State and Minnesota both should win their games, and Michigan State, while less experienced than Stanford in BCS games, is playing its best football. Wisconsin needs to rebound, Iowa has a tough draw and both Michigan and Nebraska have been enigmatic, but the Big Ten should expect a little more in its final season of its self-created meat-grinder bowl lineup.
Brian Bennett's first impressions
Best game: The Rose Bowl is tremendous and looks to be the second-best game outside of the BCS title game. But let me also put in a plug for a possible underrated Orange matchup between Ohio State and Clemson. I saw Clemson earlier this season, and while the Tigers stumbled badly against Florida State and South Carolina, they are loaded with athletes. Put Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins, Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde all on the same field, and you're guaranteed some fireworks. Both teams score more than 40 points per game so we could have an entertaining shootout with some intriguing back stories (the Woody Hayes punch, Urban Meyer's return to the state of Florida).
Worst game: Minnesota had a great season and has a legitimately good defense and solid running game led by David Cobb. So I was hoping to see the Gophers get a chance to prove themselves against a decent opponent. Unfortunately, they drew a 6-6 Syracuse squad that beat absolutely no one and has an even lower-scoring offense than Minnesota. A bowl win is probably all that matters to Jerry Kill and his players, but I think they deserved a better showcase opportunity.
Sneaky good game: Outback. Iowa will have to make up for a talent gap with LSU -- as most teams do when they play the Tigers. But the Hawkeyes really hit their stride in the season finale at Nebraska, and they have only lost to teams ranked in the top 20. LSU, meanwhile, will be without starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who tore his ACL in the season finale, and this was not a vintage Tigers' defense. Both teams like to run the ball a lot, and Iowa linebackers James Morris, Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey must continue to lead the way for Phil Parker's defense. Maybe if we're lucky, we'll get an ending half as good as the 2005 Capital One Bowl.
The bowl season will be a success if: At least one BCS win is a necessity, especially with opponents who are similar in style in both games. Winning at least one of the games against the SEC on New Year's Day is also important; that holiday has been unkind to the Big Ten of late, and Georgia and LSU look more vulnerable than usual. An overall winning record is possible and could start to change the conference's image. Another sign of success will be if Wisconsin can avoid adding to Clowney's postseason highlight reel.
- Mark Dantonio made a trip to Pasadena in May and told his MSU team all about it, Graham Couch writes. The Spartans have redefined their program.
- Ohio State can't let the blues linger as it prepares for the Discover Orange Bowl.
- BTN.com's Tom Dienhart weighs in on the seven Big Ten bowl matchups.
- Iowa's large traveling fan base and strong on-field results helped the Hawkeyes land an Outback Bowl berth.
- Michigan's trip to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl is a weird end to a weird year.
- Nebraska coach Bo Pelini isn't complaining about a bowl rematch with Georgia.
- Wisconsin can measure its program against South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl.
- Minnesota is headed back to the Texas Bowl but with elevated expectations.
- Northwestern isn't going bowling, but the Wildcats' 2014 recruiting class just got better.
- Purdue AD Morgan Burke reflects on a tough season and the future for the Boilers.
- Coach Kyle Flood will lead Rutgers into the Big Ten, but he'll have several new assistants in 2014.
- Penn State's linebacker recruits remain on board despite coach Ron Vanderlinden's departure.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
So there's plenty to discuss, even with no league teams in action this weekend (frowny face) for the first time since August. Come on by my Big Ten Monday chat and we'll break it all down.
The chat starts at 3 p.m. ET, and here is the link. See you there.
Adam's Top 25
1. Florida State
4. Michigan State
7. Ohio State
8. South Carolina
13. Oklahoma State
15. Arizona State
19. Fresno State
21. Texas A&M
24. Bowling Green
Brian's Top 25
1. Florida State
4. Michigan State
7. Ohio State
8. South Carolina
13. Oklahoma State
15. Arizona State
20. Texas A&M
22. Fresno State
24. Notre Dame
25. Bowling Green
Not a lot of surprises here. Michigan State and Stanford is a worthy 100th Rose Bowl matchup of top-five teams. If Alabama loses to Oklahoma and Michigan State wins, the Spartans could potentially finish the season No. 2. ... Ohio State drops five spots for both of us after the 10-point loss in the Big Ten championship game. That's the problem with a subpar schedule; once you lose, there's not much else on the résumé. ... Wisconsin is still hanging around the top 20 and gets a top-10 team (South Carolina) in its bowl. Time for the Badgers to prove the Penn State loss was a fluke. ... Northern Illinois drops out for both of us (see: subpar schedule), while the team that beat the Huskies in the MAC title game jumps in. Bowling Green has had a very nice season, even if it did lose by 32 points to Indiana in September. ... Iowa doesn't crack either of our Top 25s, but it was close for me. The Hawkeyes are my No. 26 this week.
What does your final, pre-bowl Top 25 look like?
And despite some challenging weather in Indianapolis, the title game had its best crowd in three years. The presence of Ohio State surely helped, as it appeared that scarlet and gray made up about 70 percent of the stands at Lucas Oil Stadium. Attendance figures for the first three Big Ten title games:
Take that and rewind it back ...
For good measure: Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has faced a lot of criticism for his disciplinary measures and player conduct from his time at Florida. So it's only fair to commend Meyer for taking strong disciplinary actions with the Buckeyes.
There was much hand-wringing last week about the lack of additional punishment for Ohio State offensive lineman Marcus Hall, who got a public reprimand from the Big Ten but nothing more after he was ejected for fighting at Michigan and offered his now infamous two-gun salute to the crowd. Meyer announced on Friday that Hall wouldn't start against Michigan State, which led to a lot of wisecracks about Hall coming in on the second or third play.
But Meyer kept Hall sidelined the entire Big Ten championship game. Even when Ohio State fell behind 17-0 and was doing nothing on offense early on, Hall stayed glued to the bench. For a senior to miss three quarters of his team's biggest rivalry game and then the conference title game, that's pretty stern discipline.
Meyer said Saturday night that he'd decided not to play Hall "a while back." Both Ohio State and the Big Ten could have avoided criticism had Meyer announced early in the week that Hall was suspended for the game. But the Buckeyes probably didn't want Michigan State to have that information.
Meyer's other disciplinary moves during his Ohio State tenure, including the three-game suspension for Carlos Hyde and one-game suspension for Bradley Roby earlier this year, have all seemed fair. So it's time to cut the Buckeyes' coach some slack in that department.
Big Man on Campus (offense): Raise your hand if you predicted in the preseason, or even in September or October, that Connor Cook would be MVP of the Big Ten championship game. But Michigan State's sophomore quarterback earned it by throwing for a career-high 304 yards and three touchdowns, delivering some terrific, clutch throws all night. Cook is uncannily confident in himself, and he's inspiring confidence with the way he's been playing.
Big Man on Campus (freshman): Despite the loss, Ohio State's Joey Bosa introduced himself to the country as a future major star. Bosa created havoc all night from defensive end, finishing with two tackles for loss, a sack and three total quarterback hurries. It seemed like he was in the backfield all night. Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington got all the preseason pub, but Bosa looks like the most fearsome Buckeyes pass-rusher of the future.
Bring on 2014: We're about to say goodbye to both the dreaded BCS and its ridiculous use of the coaches' poll. Even more promising changes are in store for next season when it comes to bowls.
Leagues like the Big Ten promise to have a much greater input on bowl matchups starting in 2014. That should help prevent a situation like we got on Sunday, when the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl took Michigan over Nebraska to play Kansas State. Selecting the Wolverines might have been in the best interest of that bowl, but it created a matchup with no history or really much of a storyline. It also meant the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl got a rematch nobody wanted in Nebraska-Georgia.
It would make much, much more sense, both geographically and in terms of the matchups, to have Kansas State-Nebraska and Michigan vs. Georgia games. The Huskers went to the same bowl in back-to-back years in the 2009 and 2010 seasons (Holiday) and again in 2011 and 2012 (Capital One), and now they play the same team as last year.
Of course, bowls and common sense have rarely gone together. Maybe next year they will.
Fun with numbers (via ESPN Stats & Info): Miller did not convert a first down on 11 third- or fourth-down attempts, including the stuffed fourth-and-2 rush that all but clinched the game. Miller entered Saturday with a 91.7 Total QBR on third and fourth downs, ninth-best in the FBS. He had converted 49 percent of those downs while averaging 8.1 yards per play the first 12 games of the season. Against Michigan State, he averaged minus-1.4 yards in those situations.
Overall, Ohio State converted just 1 of 12 third or fourth downs against Michigan State. That was its lowest conversion percentage in the past 10 seasons. Entering the game, the Buckeyes had converted 54 percent of third- or fourth-down chances this season, the sixth-highest percentage in the FBS.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The phone call came in, the next challenge was confirmed and Urban Meyer was ready to move on.
The Ohio State coach praised the bowl destination, talked up the opponent he’s already preparing for and mentioned on several occasions how his driven team will quickly adapt its goals now that there’s only one thing left to accomplish this season.
But as Meyer rattled everything off the No. 7 Buckeyes have to look forward to against No. 12 Clemson in the Discover Orange Bowl on Jan. 3, even on a teleconference it was clear he was still carrying with him at least one wound from the loss that abruptly ended “The Chase” and ripped a likely crack at the national championship away from his team.
“Excuse me,” a hoarse Meyer said Sunday night. “I lost my voice yesterday a little bit.”
The Buckeyes had no shortage of reasons to scream as Michigan State picked apart their secondary, largely shut down the spread offense and snatched a trip to the Rose Bowl from them in the Big Ten title game. And that loss is likely to haunt Ohio State well after Meyer has any need for lozenges.
But in place of one spot in the BCS, the Buckeyes quickly earned a bid to another when the Orange Bowl called to help brighten up Meyer’s afternoon.
They may not have a shot at Florida State, but another ACC powerhouse filled the void to give the Buckeyes a chance to make a statement victory after having their schedule picked apart all season long.
The school-record 24-game winning streak is gone as well, but then there’s a springboard to maybe start a new run down in south Florida.
And while it’s understandable and perhaps acceptable for Ohio State to be feeling a little down and disappointed for a day or two, that can’t last long if it’s going to do anything with the opportunity that took the place of the one the Buckeyes really wanted.
“I actually opened a forum a little bit [after the game], opened the floor for anybody, and it was interesting to have a couple players, a couple coaches say a few words,” Meyer said. “It was just about finishing this thing the right way. The team has got a chance to win 13 games in a season, and obviously finish ranked very highly. A lot of these players with what they’ve gone through the last two years, you could look in their eyes and they were very disappointed, but they understand there’s an incredible opportunity ahead of them. With opportunity comes responsibility, and they understand that.
“They’re heartbroken, but they’re competitors and they’re also [aware of] the fact we’re playing in a BCS bowl against Clemson. It’s going to wake you up real fast.”
The Buckeyes didn’t get much sleep after their first loss in two seasons, getting back from Indianapolis at 4 a.m. Some of the coaches didn’t even return to Columbus, leaving directly after the game and locker-room discussion to hit the recruiting trail.
But when the staff and players do all get back together again to start preparing for the Tigers, they’ll hear plenty from Meyer about everything that’s left for to play for. And for the first time in his tenure, that will include the chance to bounce back from a loss.
“I think it means a lot for us to go back and play in a BCS bowl game,” senior left tackle Jack Mewhort said in a release. “To get a win in a big time bowl and at the same time show some resiliency would be a great way to go out.
“I couldn’t ask at this point for anything more than to play in a BCS bowl game, and getting to go to battle with these guys I’ve been fortunate to play with for the last four or five years will be great.”
The first step before they can deliver another successful battle cry: The Buckeyes just have to get their voice back.
Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio
4 Michigan State Spartans vs 5 Stanford Cardinal
January 1, 2014, at 5 ET on ESPN
Michigan State: First Rose Bowl appearance since the 1987 season and its first appearance in a BCS bowl. The Spartans have reached a bowl game in all seven seasons under head coach Mark Dantonio after making no bowl appearances from 2004-06.
Stanford: Second consecutive appearance in the Rose Bowl (def. Wisconsin 20-14 last season). The Cardinal are making back-to-back Rose Bowl appearances for the first time since 1970-71. Stanford has reached a BCS bowl in four straight seasons after making just one from 1998-2009.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
15 UCF Knights vs 6 Baylor Bears
January 1, 2014, at 8:30 ET on ESPN
UCF: First BCS bowl berth in school history. Won 11 games this season, tied for the most in school history (also won 11 in 2010).
Baylor: Like their opponents in the Fiesta Bowl, the Bears receive their first BCS bowl berth in school history. Baylor looks to extend a school-record 11 wins this season to 12 in this game.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
11 Oklahoma Sooners vs 3 Alabama Crimson Tide
January 2, 2014, at 8:30 ET on ESPN
Oklahoma: Ninth BCS bowl appearance, second-most all-time. The Sooners are 3-5 in BCS bowl games, snapping a five-game losing streak with a win in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl vs Connecticut.
Alabama: Third straight BCS bowl appearance and fifth in the last seven seasons under Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide will make their first Sugar Bowl appearance since the 2008 season (lost to Utah in that game).
Discover Orange Bowl
12 Clemson Tigers vs 7 Ohio State Buckeyes
January 3, 2014, at 8:30 ET on ESPN
Clemson: First BCS bowl appearance since 2011, when the Tigers played in the Orange Bowl. Those two games mark the only BCS bowls in school history. Speaking of history for the Tigers, they will make a school-record ninth straight appearance in a bowl game.
Ohio State: Tenth BCS bowl appearance, most all-time. The Buckeyes will make their first Orange Bowl appearance since the 1976 season against Colorado. Their last BCS appearance came in a 2011 Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas.
Vizio BCS National Championship Game
1 Florida State Seminoles vs 2 Auburn Tigers
January 6, 2014, at 8:30 ET on ESPN
Florida State: After beating Northern Illinois in last year’s Orange Bowl, the Seminoles return to a BCS bowl game. It marks their first back-to-back BCS bowl appearances since 2002-03. This will be their first BCS Championship Game appearance since 2000 and fourth overall.
Auburn: Second BCS Championship Game appearance, first since winning the national title over Oregon in the 2010 season. This marks the third BCS bowl appearance for the Tigers, who are unbeaten in such games thus far.
Clemson Tigers (10-2) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (12-1)
Jan. 3, TBD, Miami (ESPN)
CLEMSON TIGERS BREAKDOWN
Despite its third straight season with at least 10 wins, Clemson ended the regular season by extending its sour streak with a fifth straight losses to rival South Carolina and once again looking up at Florida State in the Atlantic Division standings.
It wasn’t just that the Tigers lost those games; it was the fact that they lost them in embarrassing fashion. Florida State rolled Clemson in Death Valley on Oct. 19, quieting the crowd with a 51-14 romp. In a 31-17 loss to the Gamecocks, Clemson turned it over six times, each gaff seemingly more unbelievable than the last. Clemson’s only two losses, though, were to top-10 opponents. Clemson committed 10 turnovers versus FSU and South Carolina and was outscored 45-0 in points off turnovers in those games.
Still, the Tigers will bring one of the country’s most productive offenses, led by Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins, who has 224 career receptions and will need nine catches in the bowl game to break Aaron Kelly’s school career record of 232. The defense, led by Vic Beasley, has also shown significant improvement in the second season under coordinator Brent Venables. -- Heather Dinich
OHIO STATE BUCKEYES BREAKDOWN
The flawless, fairytale run wasn’t going to last forever, but Ohio State surely wasn’t planning on trying to start a new winning streak in its bowl game.
But the combined star power of Meyer, quarterback Braxton Miller, running back Carlos Hyde and linebacker Ryan Shazier still made Ohio State plenty attractive for a BCS bowl, and it will have a marquee opportunity to post an impressive victory and cap what has still been a record-setting season for the program.
Few teams have been as explosive as the Buckeyes offensively, with both Miller and Hyde rushing for more than 1,000 yards and causing defenses fits with the zone-option attack. And while the passing game has regressed during the final month of the season, Miller has still come a long way as a passer, which has helped receivers Philly Brown and Devin Smith and tight end Jeff Heuerman find the end zone a combined 21 times.
The defense hasn’t been quite as consistent, particularly since the loss of stabilizing senior safety Christian Bryant in late September to a fractured ankle, but more often than not, it has made the plays needed to rack up wins. Typically, it has been Shazier doing the most damage, as the junior has routinely stuffed the stats sheet while leading the Big Ten in three different individual categories.
Neither side of the ball did quite enough to push the Buckeyes into the bowl they really had their eye on. But there was a nice consolation prize waiting for them, and a big opportunity to start over with, as well. -- Austin Ward
MIAMI LAKES, Fla. -- The Bowl Championship Series came calling once again for Ohio State, albeit not the game the Buckeyes wanted.
A day after seeing their national-title hopes and 24-game winning streak end with a loss in the Big Ten championship game, the seventh-ranked Buckeyes were selected Sunday to play against No. 12 Clemson in the Discover Orange Bowl on Jan. 3.
It's the 10th BCS berth for the Buckeyes, more than any other school, though one of those appearances was later vacated.
"This team, a lot of these players have been through a lot of stuff," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. "Last year they went 12-0 and were unable to go play in a bowl game. Now, their first chance to go play in a bowl game, they're in a BCS game against a great team. ... This group of kids wants to go win a bowl game and win their 13th game. That's what we're going to work awful hard to get done."
Since the start of 2012, both the Buckeyes (12-1) and Tigers (10-2) rank in the top 10 nationally in terms of points per game and winning percentage. Combined, they're 45-5 since the start of last season, and although both had bigger aspirations, they still figure to give the Orange Bowl the type of marquee matchup that bowl games covet.
"I definitely want to congratulate Ohio State, another great year," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "They were a couple plays away from playing for the national championship and I've got all the respect in the world for coach Meyer. Looking forward to spending some time with him down in Miami."
Still, going to the Orange Bowl may seem like a bit of a consolation prize for both schools.
Red Smith, the poet laureate of sweat, once wrote that 90 feet between bases is the nearest to perfection that man has yet achieved. The basepath has nothing on the length of college football's regular season, which, with the patience of a kindergarten teacher and the tenacity of Scotland Yard, identified Florida State and Auburn as the two best teams to play for the BCS National Championship.
Tenacity is the lifeblood of a sport that demands physical and mental exertion for 60 minutes. Patience, not so much. Patience in college football is attributed to tailbacks who wait for a hole to appear. But in a sport in which a quarterback may have three seconds to complete a pass without getting his slobber knocked, patience often goes untapped.
Yet patience has never been more important than it has been in 2013, and not just because it was nearly midnight on the final Saturday of the regular season before Michigan State proved that Ohio State didn't have the credentials to play for the crystal football. In a season made predictable only by its unpredictability, patience became the coin of the realm.
Patience rewarded no fans more than at Auburn. It didn't take any patience to appreciate the rapid rise of the Tigers from 3-9 in 2012 to 12-1 this year. But the way that the Tigers waited until the very end to upend Georgia on a Hail Mary tipped pass and defeat archrival No. 1 Alabama on a 109-yard field goal return for a touchdown, focused upon the power of faith no matter what reality promised.
Patience proved critical at Florida State, not because head coach Jimbo Fisher decided to start a redshirt freshman at quarterback. Jameis Winston played with poise and the acumen of an upperclassman as the Seminoles cruised to a 13-0 record (12 wins by at least 27 points). But Florida State fans had to hold their collective garnet-and-gold breath for several weeks before local authorities decided not to charge Winston in a sexual assault case.
Patience paid off at Missouri, which had endured a 5-7, injury-filled debut in the SEC in 2012. Coach Gary Pinkel revamped his training and practice methods, and took advantage of the depth that resulted from playing so many players in 2012. The Tigers won the SEC East and finished 11-2 this season.
To continue reading, click here.