Dating back to 2010, I remember looking through the Illini's schedule after a HUGE win over Penn State on the road. Our team was 5-3 at the time and everyone started looking at possible bowl situations to take a look and see where we would go once the season was over. Long story short, the Illini clinched bowl eligibility against Northwestern in Wrigley Field and ended up defeating Robert Griffin III and the Baylor Bears in the Texas Bowl.
While the Illini are currently looking outside in on the possibility of playing in a bowl game, let's take a look at the rest of the conference and see where teams might end up.
Fiesta Bowl (Dec. 31) ~ Michigan State Spartans vs Ole Miss Rebels
With the new college football playoff semifinals being played in the Rose and Sugar bowls this season, the "At-Large" games available to the remaining Top 10 teams are the Cotton, Fiesta, and Peach Bowls. Michigan State (as of 10/27) looks like the best team in the Big Ten and has every reason to believe they will be playing in one of the "At-Large" games. We've slotted them in against Ole Miss as the #7 and #8 ranked teams in the AP polls. Ole Miss has two games that could determine their fate however, as they face Auburn and Mississippi State (both at home).
Capital One Citrus Bowl (Jan. 1) ~ Nebraska Cornhuskers vs Georgia Bulldogs
From the looks of things, Nebraska will represent the West Division of the Big Ten in the Championship game. An early prediction for the game is an MSU victory, which means a runner-up finish for the Huskers. This puts them in the Capital One Bowl against the SEC. With the new bowl situation, Georgia (likely SEC Championship Runner-Up) will be slotted into the Capital One Citrus Bowl to face the second best B1G team meaning a Georgia Nebraska rematch from last year's Gator Bowl.
Outback Bowl (Jan. 1) ~ Ohio State Buckeyes vs Missouri Tigers
To be honest, Missouri is a bit of a stretch in the Citrus Bowl...but when the SEC has 5 teams with only one loss in conference, it's tough to determine quite where everyone is going to end up. Regardless, Ohio State (pending their matchup with Michigan State) looks to be outside looking in on the Big Ten Championship game this season. This slots them in the Outback Bowl. Technically, they Buckeyes won their last bowl game in 2011 against Arkansas but vacated the win after the whole Jim Tressel/Terrelle Pryor and the NCAA debacle which means their last official win in a bowl was 2010 against the Oregon Ducks. Hey! At least the Illini won a bowl game more recently than the Bucks...
National University Holiday Bowl (Dec. 27) ~ Minnesota Golden Gophers vs Utah Utes
Minnesota is currently the 4th best in the conference and will look to maybe sneak into a New Years Day game in Florida. At the moment, they're slotted to take on the Utes of Utah who is coming off a win over the USC Trojans. This game would be quite interesting as both teams feature dominant rushing attacks and solid defenses.
Tax Slayer Gator Bowl (Jan. 2) ~ Maryland Terrapins vs LSU Tigers
Ohhhh nelly this one would be fun to watch. Both teams have potent offenses (when playing well) and would matchup well against each other. The last Gator Bowl Maryland played in was 2004 against West Virginia.
San Fransisco Bowl (Dec. 30) ~ Wisconsin Badgers vs Stanford Cardinal
A re-match of the 2013 Rose Bowl heads back to California! Only this time, it's in the 49'ers stadium and not the Rose Bowl. No matter though, a battle of power football awaits in this matchup and could be a great chance for the Badgers to earn redemption from the Rose Bowl 2 seasons ago.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 27) ~ Penn State Nittany Lions vs Pittsburgh Panthers
Lions and Panthers...oh my? Both teams from the Northeast square off in a battle for Pennsylvania in the House that Jeter built. Rutgers could also work here, but I liked the Penn matchup better.
Quick Lane Bowl (Dec. 26) ~ Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs Boston College Eagles
Simply because both teams are closer to Detroit than any other game, Rutgers gets the nod here against Boston College. This game and the Pinstripe Bowl can be moved around depending on the records of Penn State and Rutgers, as both games feature matchups of teams in the Northeast.
Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dec. 26) ~ Iowa Hawkeyes vs Marshall Thundering Herd
Is Marshall for real!!??! At 8-0 and ranked #23, they look like a team that can do some damage against a Power 5 conference...but they haven't played anyone of note! They have one of the easiest schedules in college football, and this game would be a chance for them to prove they are as good as their record suggests. Would be a really fun game to watch considering both teams are evenly matched offensively and defensively.