Dienhart: My quick take on Big Ten bowls

The Big Ten bowl matchups have been announced. And there are some interesting clashes.

The Big Ten failed to get a team in the BCS title game for the sixth season in a row, but there are two teams in BCS bowls. Here’s a quick look at the seven Big Ten bowl matchups.

[ MORE: View the complete 2013-14 college football bowl schedule ]

Rose Bowl: Michigan State vs. Stanford

The Spartans are in Pasadena for the first time since the 1987 season, when they beat USC. Michigan State will be tested by a good Stanford team led by rising star coach David Shaw. The Cardinal were in this game last season, knocking off Wisconsin. And this will be their fourth BCS bowl in a row. Shaw coaches a tough, physical Stanford team that in many ways mirrors the style of Mark Dantonio. So, if you live smash-mouth football, watch this game.

Orange Bowl: Ohio State vs. Clemson

A great quarterback battle between Braxton Miller and Tajh Boyd. In fact, not many bowls will have a better matchup of signal-callers. The Buckeyes defense struggled down the stretch, allowing 603 yards and 41 points to Michigan and 438 yards and 34 points to Michigan State in the last two games. Clemson’s offense will be another tough test for this maligned Buckeye defense, as the Tigers are 12th in the nation in passing (329.3 ypg) and 12th in scoring (40.2 ppg). Boyd is a special talent with 3,473 yards passing with 29 TD tosses. Long-time OSU fans will remember these schools met in the 1978 Gator Bowl, which became famous after Woody Hayes slugged Clemson linebacker Charlie Bauman—ending Hayes’ illustrious career in a dubious fashion.

Capital One Bowl: Wisconsin vs. South Carolina

Can’t wait to watch that massive Wisconsin o-line contend with South Carolina stud end Jadeveon Clowney in the Capital One Bowl. Remember that hit Clowney delivered vs. Michigan last year in the postseason? Sure you do. We all have seen it 1,233,457 times. The matchup between Steve Spurrier and Gary Andersen will be one of the best coaching battles of the postseason. This Gamecock offense vs. this Badger defense. Nice, as well. Can Wisconsin run enough with Melvin Gordon and James White vs. South Carolina? The Gamecocks will know what’s coming, and they have an athletic defense unlike any the Badgers have seen in 2013.

Outback Bowl: Iowa vs. LSU

This conjures memories of the classic 2005 Capital One Bowl clash between the Hawkeyes and Bayou Bengals, won by Iowa on a dramatic 56-yard touchdown heave by Drew Tate to Warren Holloway in the waning moments to earn a 30-25 win. Both of these teams are physical squads that like to run to set up the pass. Without a doubt, this will be the best team that the Hawkeyes have faced all season. Does Iowa have enough skill/speed on offense to score on this athletic LSU defense? The Iowa defense catches a big break, as LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger will miss the game with a knee injury suffered in the finale vs. Arkansas.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Michigan vs. Kansas State

An interesting clash pitting Brady Hoke vs. all-time coaching great Bill Snyder. No Big Ten team in a non-BCS bowl will be more scrutinized. The Wolverines need to finish the season on an up note after going 1-4 in November during a highly disappointing season. And the lone win came in triple overtime at Northwestern. An inconsistent offense was the biggest issue. The good news for Michigan: KSU’s offense isn’t great, which means the Wolverines may not need to rely on their dysfunction offense much to win. Still, Michigan’s offense could have issues moving the ball and scoring on K-State, which is 36th in the nation in scoring defense (23.7 ppg). This is a physical Wildcats team will try to run to set up the pass. Snyder’s teams typically play with discipline; and they rarely beat themselves. So, Michigan will have to play smart and limit turnovers.

Gator Bowl: Nebraska vs. Georgia

This clash may have the least buzz of all the Big Ten bowls. Why? Because it’s a rematch of the Capital One Bowl from last year, a 45-31 Georgia win. And this is one of the least impressive Bulldogs teams under Mark Richt, as injuries proved to be ruinous for Georgia in a disappointing season. Oh, and each team will be using backup quarterbacks. Still, this will be a good chance for the Huskers to score a win over a SEC team and help Bo Pelini quell his critics. Nebraska finished the season losing two of its last three games. The Bulldogs will be without quarterback Aaron Murray, who suffered a season-ending injury in November, augmenting the Huskers’ chances to win. So, a young and improving Nebraska looks to have a good chance to succeed and build confidence for 2014. And the Huskers offense should be healed up—and hopefully better than the last time we saw it vs. Iowa.

Texas Bowl: Minnesota vs. Syracuse

Two programs on the rise face off. The Orange don’t have a dynamic offense, ranking 100th in the nation in scoring (22.8 ppg). And Syracuse struggles to pass, ranking 102nd in the nation (181.5 ppg). Minnesota lacks a dynamic offense, as well. Both teams have solid defenses. Bottom line: This may be a low-scoring game. A win in the Texas Bowl would be Minnesota’s ninth this season. It would also be the eighth time in program history and only the second time in the last 108 years that Minnesota would finish the season with nine wins. The Gophers beat Syracuse 17-10 at home last season on the strength of two Donnell Kirkwood rushing touchdowns.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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26 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (26 Comments)
Mike on 12/8/2013 @ 10:13pm EST Said:

LSU is the best team Iowa will have faced all season? Better than MSU, OSU, and Wiscy? I seriously disagree.

Dylan N-S on 12/8/2013 @ 10:19pm EST Said:

“This conjures memories of the classic 2005 Outback clash between the Hawkeyes and Bayou Bengals, won by Iowa on a dramatic 56-yard touchdown heave by Drew Tate to Warren Holloway in the waning moments to earn a 30-25 win.”

That was the 2005 Capital One Bowl.

“Without a doubt, this will be the best team that the Hawkeyes have faced all season.”

Ummm, what? I think the fourth ranked Michigan State Spartans might have something to say about that. Also, that team in Columbus that has lost one game in two years. How can you say “without a doubt” this LSU team, without starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger, is the best team that Iowa has faced all season? That’s a joke.

schawk on 12/8/2013 @ 10:59pm EST Said:

“Without a doubt, this will be the best team the Hawkeyes have face all year” Tom says of LSU in the Outback Bowl. I guess I just don’t know quite what to say about that comment. I guess LSU is better than Ohio State, and LSU must be better than the Spartans, and of course Wisconsin must not match up. Let’s see, the Hawkeyes played every team in the BIG that is going to a bowl game. So BIG brethans I would say that this so called BTN writer just called out all of our teams by saying the fifth place team in the SEC is better than all of the BIG. BTN need to give this quack his walking papers. BTW the ESPN commentators as I write this put LSU on upset alert to the Hawkeyes.

nd on 12/8/2013 @ 11:29pm EST Said:

“Without a doubt, this will be the best team that the Hawkeyes have faced all season.”

You realize Iowa played OSU, MSU and Bucky Badger this year?

So without a doubt none of those three could beat LSU missing their starting qb?

Interesting take.

Scott on 12/8/2013 @ 11:59pm EST Said:

“Without a doubt, this will be the best team that the Hawkeyes have faced all season.”

Wow! You must have a pretty low opinion of the Big Ten to say that Sparty and tOSU are “without a doubt” worse than LSU.

Eric on 12/9/2013 @ 10:11am EST Said:

“Without a doubt, this will be the best team that the Hawkeyes have faced all season.”

Really? Without a doubt? I don’t think many objective observer would conclude that LSU is “without a doubt” the best team Iowa has faced. LSU lost three games, including one against a decent but unspectacular Ole Miss team, and needed a near-miracle to beat an Arkansas team that went winless in the SEC just to get to nine wins. Yes, they beat Auburn in a game that was played in September. Iowa played both OSU and MSU, two teams that would quite possibly be favored in a matchup against LSU. I believe the B1G deserves more credit than you’re giving it.

I’d like to hear the rationale behind LSU’s undoubted superiority that was not included in this article.

akble on 12/9/2013 @ 11:25am EST Said:

seems the Seniors writer for BTN has little regard for the Top 3 Finishers in the B10- He states about LSU “Without a doubt, this will be the best team that the Hawkeyes have faced all season.” Evidently feels MSU , OSU and Wisc are not as good as the Bayou Bengals. Seems the Hawks took care of them in 05 and also Ga Tech and the Gators in recent years when they were underdogs also.

Greg Thimmig on 12/9/2013 @ 12:26pm EST Said:

You said ” Without a doubt, this will be the best team that the Hawkeyes have faced all season.” (In regards to LSU)
I think the Spartans may have slipped your mind before making this statement.

Brian Schwartz (@bwschwa) on 12/9/2013 @ 12:41pm EST Said:

“Without a doubt, this (LSU) will be the best team that the Hawkeyes have faced all season.” Um … MSU? OSU?

Justin on 12/9/2013 @ 12:50pm EST Said:

Hey, on your bowl writeup for Iowa vs LSU, you say that “Without a doubt, this will be the best team that the Hawkeyes have faced all season.” Yeah, I’m not that impressed with a 3 loss LSU team that lost to Ole Miss and barely beat a 9 loss Arkansas squad, whose star 3000 yard quarterback is injured and out compared to Michigan State, Ohio State, or Wisconsin. LSU may be good, but remember who you write for Tom, don’t beat the SEC drum here.

Jim Ostrander on 12/9/2013 @ 12:59pm EST Said:

So Tom, when you say “Without a doubt, this will be the best team that the Hawkeyes have faced all season,” you are saying that LSU is better than Mich St., Ohio St, or Wisconsin? Why are they playing in the Outback Bowl?

LukeinNE on 12/9/2013 @ 1:07pm EST Said:

“Without a doubt, this will be the best team that the Hawkeyes have faced all season.”

Um, what? Iowa played Ohio State (12-1), Michigan State (12-1), and Wisconsin (9-3). I don’t view LSU (9-3) as being “without a doubt” better than any of those teams.

nate robers on 12/9/2013 @ 1:08pm EST Said:

ummm ‘without a doubt this will be the best team the hawkeyes have faced all season’… so you are saying that lsu is better than osu and msu? i really doubt that(and i have watched lsu a bit this year).

akble on 12/9/2013 @ 1:24pm EST Said:

Perhaps Tom is Senior writer for the wrong conference?

Dave on 12/9/2013 @ 1:28pm EST Said:

It’s great to read that college football and the BIG exists for the SEC. The BIG is picking LSU over Iowa!

JP on 12/9/2013 @ 1:31pm EST Said:

So Tom….. Thought on the Iowa-LSU matchup?? LOL! Holy freak out!!!

matt on 12/9/2013 @ 1:32pm EST Said:

Not even ‘possibly the best’ or ‘when they play their best game are the best’ or even the subjective ‘most talent’, LSU is ‘without a doubt the best team’ Iowa has faced this year? Are you auditioning for the SEC network?? I mean not only would most sensible people outside of SEC country not agree with you, but you basically just took a shot at the entire conference that your network is devoted to covering. MSU and OSU are ‘without a doubt’ better than LSU and Wisky might be as well…

Tim Oaks on 12/9/2013 @ 2:42pm EST Said:

Okay Tom…I just read the comments section, and yes……..you have been asked multiple times about your LSU comment.

Mike on 12/9/2013 @ 3:02pm EST Said:

Wow. Even a writer for the BTN are on the $EC bandwagon. LSU without their projected 1st round draft pick QB, is better than Ohio State, Michigan State, ow Wisky?

Terry M on 12/9/2013 @ 3:22pm EST Said:

10 replies (now 11) to this article & all relate to LSU being the best team the Hawks will have faced this year!?! I don’t know how a supposed BTN “Sr Writer”, could make such a stupid statement. Maybe, I should become a “Sr Writer” as the competition appears to lacking in common sense.

Andrew on 12/9/2013 @ 4:14pm EST Said:

‘Without a doubt’, Mr. Dienhart desperately needs the help of a editor.

Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer on 12/9/2013 @ 4:23pm EST Said:

I think LSU from 1-85 has as much or more talent than any Big Ten team. Maybe I should have softened my statement when I said “absolutely” the best. Michigan State and Ohio State are very good teams.

Justin on 12/9/2013 @ 4:51pm EST Said:

Can we fire this guy? Man, just own it, don’t try to defend what was obviously some hyperbole taken far too far. You are the senior writer for the B1G, and you are now trying to back up your statement that LSU, the #5/#6 team in the SEC is better than the best teams in the B1G. Way to burn your bridges, Tom. Go write for them if you want to shill for the SEC so badly.

akble on 12/9/2013 @ 5:12pm EST Said:

From 1-85 – last time I checked only 11 on field at a time and most teams play about 50. So having “as much ” makes them a better team than any B10 team? My son has told me all season you were not that sharp in FB – the way you kept promoting Nebr and Mn and putting Hawks down only confirmed that. I think the fan voting week to week showed they knew as much about FB as a so called expert and Sr Writer. A little B10 smashmouth is coming LSU’s way- and Iowa played 4 teams in Week 16 T25 – LSU 3 so not that impressed with their schedule either.
Obviously your last comment is a backstep-

Doug on 12/9/2013 @ 7:04pm EST Said:

Tom is still upset his pick of the wolverines winnning the Legends failed to come thru, don’t worry Tom, please pick them again next year ! you were close, they only finished in 5th place and were a missed penalty against NW from finishing in last ! bring back Rich Rod !

akble on 12/29/2013 @ 9:47am EST Said:

Doug – at least his pick – the Wolverines finished their bowl season on a high – haha- shows you 4 and 5 star HS players and 100,000 seat stadiusm do not make a great college team. You need good coaching and hard work to improve- obviously both lacking @ Michigan and Nebraska also. Keep picking those “programs” Tom and their great recruiting classes and the Iowas and Michigan States will keep being happy to continue to out perform them 80% of the time.