Buckeyes Will Not Play in New Year's Day Bowl

Posted Oct 19, 2011 Rob Kunz | 1 comments
Okay, I have to be honest…the headline is a little misleading. Of course Ohio State won’t play in a New Year’s Day bowl game this year…there are none scheduled.
January 1, 2012 is on a Sunday, and it’s the final weekend of the NFL regular season, so there are no college games that day.
All the “traditional” New Year’s Day games will be played on Monday, January 2nd. Thanks to last week’s win over Illinois, it is still very much possible that the Buckeyes will be playing on that day.
Before I get ahead of things, it is imperative to point out that Ohio State needs two more wins to even become bowl eligible. Next week’s game with Wisconsin will be the toughest game of the year, but the other four left (Indiana, at Purdue, Penn State, at Michigan) are all winnable.
Even if OSU finishes the season 6-6, or 7-5, I still like the chances of ringing in the New Year down in Florida for the Buckeyes.
First off, the Big Ten has five games that the conference is affiliated with that are being played on January 2nd, including the Rose Bowl. That doesn’t take into consideration a second Big Ten school getting invited to play in another BCS Bowl game, which is still a decent possibility.
Here are the bowl games that have Big Ten schools tied in, listed by order of selection:
·         Rose Bowl/BCS Championship Game (Jan. 2/Jan. 9) vs. Pac-12 or BCS
·         Capital One Bowl (Jan. 2) vs. SEC
·         Outback Bowl (Jan. 2) vs. SEC
·         Insight Bowl (Dec. 30) vs. Big 12
·         Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl (Jan. 2) vs. SEC
·         Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (Dec. 31) vs. Big 12
·         TicketCity Bowl (Jan. 2) vs. Conference USA
·         Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (Dec. 27) vs. MAC
Let’s be pragmatic here and go ahead and rule out the Rose Bowl or a BCS Bowl game. It’s become habit (6 straight BCS bowl), but that streak is over.
Unless Ohio State wins out, and is sitting at 9-3, the Capital One Bowl is also probably a stretch. It’s the same with the Outback Bowl, which would select next.  
However, it’s worth noting that it’s been ten years since Ohio State has played in Tampa (2002 Outback), and 16 since a bowl trip to Orlando (1996 Citrus). Both games would love to have the Buckeyes back, but first-time Big Ten member Nebraska won’t be passed up here if it comes to that. Michigan and Michigan State would also be appealing.
Technically, the Insight Bowl picks fourth, but I would think Ohio State might be a long-shot here. The Insight is run by the same folks who handle the Fiesta Bowl, and the Buckeyes have played in that game (or the BCS Championship) five times in the last nine years.
If you really want to be bold, book your bowl trip to Jacksonville. The Gator Bowl has a history of taking teams that travel well (West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Florida State) while records that year seem secondary. Ohio State could be looking at an SEC team like Auburn, Georgia, Mississippi State or even Florida.
Even the sixth choice, the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas (played at the Cotton Bowl) would love to have the Buckeyes, as long as they are eligible.
A lot of football remains to be played, and really, I could see Ohio State finishing anywhere from 6-6 to 8-4.
If it ends up 8-4, with a “New Year’s Day Bowl”, that would be quite an accomplishment for everything this program has gone through—on and off the field—over the past eight months.