The 2021 Big Ten season will be one to remember, especially for Michigan fans. There was plenty of success to go around, though, with the Buckeyes and Spartans earning New Year’s Six bids and the West division champion Hawkeyes ending with a 10-3 record. As a result, nine different members will take part in bowls against at least one school from each of the other four Power Five conferences.
All times listed are Eastern. Odds brought to you by DraftKings Sportsbook.
Minnesota (-4) vs. West Virginia, O/U 45 — Dec. 28, 10:15 pm, ESPN
Perhaps to some surprise, the Gophers actually ended the year ranked 20th per SP+. An upset of Wisconsin kept their rival out of the Big Ten Championship game, and as a result, they draw a 6-6 Mountaineers squad in Phoenix’s Guaranteed Rate Bowl. This is a good spot for Minnesota to pick up a ninth win, which beats most preseason expectations.
Pick: MINNESOTA -4
Maryland (PK) vs. Virginia Tech, O/U 54 — Dec. 29, 2:15 pm, ESPN
The Terrapins won their high stakes finale over Rutgers to emerge as the bowl-eligible team, earning a Pinstripe Bowl date against their old ACC foe. The Hokies did not have a great year, finishing in the middle of a fairly unimpressive conference. This is the kind of matchup people are thinking of when they claim there are too many bowls.
Pick: VIRGINIA TECH
Purdue (+4.5) vs. Tennessee, O/U 64 — Dec. 30, 3:00 pm, ESPN
Kicking off a Big Ten ESPN tripleheader are the Boilermakers, who made plenty of waves throughout the conference this season. Records aside, this is a tough draw against a 7-5 Tennessee squad that boasts the No. 8 offense in the country (in the Music City Bowl, no less). Can the Spoilermakers pull off one more upset against SP+’s No. 11 squad? Might be a tough one.
Pick: TENNESSEE -4.5
No. 10 Michigan State (-2.5) vs. No. 12 Pittsburgh, O/U 60 — Dec. 30, 7:00 pm, ESPN
This game really just comes down to whether or not Kenny Pickett decides to play. The presumed first rounder could not be faulted for sitting this one out, but a strong Peach Bowl performance could certainly help his draft stock as well. One absence that is confirmed is the Spartans’ pass defense, so should Pickett suit up, the No. 4 Panthers offense will have a field day.
Pick: PITTSBURGH +2.5
Wisconsin (-7) vs. Arizona State, O/U 42 — Dec. 30, 10:30 pm, ESPN
A disappointing end for the Badgers, who controlled their own destiny in the West division before falling to Minnesota for the Axe. Still a great year despite no quarterback, ending with the second-best defense in the country. Do not overlook the Sun Devils though, and this is a classic away game for the Big Ten, traveling to west for the Las Vegas Bowl.
Pick: ARIZONA STATE +7
No. 2 Michigan (+7.5) vs No. 3 Georgia, O/U 44.5 — Dec. 31, 7:30 pm, ESPN
Much more to come on this one, of course. While the Wolverines have posted 42 points in both of their last two games and the Bulldogs have the No. 3 offense, expect the Orange Bowl to be a defensive battle. Georgia’s scoring has been inflated by its schedule, and Michigan has absolutely played like a top-10 defense this year. Low scoring is good here.
Pick: UNDER 44.5
Penn State (-1.5) vs. No. 21 Arkansas, O/U 46.5 — Jan. 1, 12:00 pm, ESPN
The Razorbacks have the ranking, but the Nittany Lions are the favorites heading into the Outback Bowl. Like Wisconsin, Penn State has been very lopsided this season, but the No. 6 defense has the team ranked 16th per SP+. A 7-5 record feels a little harsh, but a win over a solid Arkansas squad would be a good way to close the year.
Pick: PENN STATE -1.5
No. 15 Iowa (+3) vs. No. 22 Kentucky, O/U 44 — Jan. 1, 1:00 pm, ESPN
The Citrus Bowl and Outback Bowl always seem to go hand in hand, and like the latter, the former features the higher-ranked team as the underdog. This is likely due to the complete lack of offense the Hawkeyes so fervently displayed in the Big Ten Championship Game. The defense stays top five despite Michigan’s outpour, and the Wildcats are not quite the same level of opponent.
Pick: IOWA +3
No. 6 Ohio State (-6.5) vs. No. 11 Utah, O/U 67 — Jan. 1, 5:00 pm, ESPN
The Buckeyes still get a Rose Bowl trip for their troubles and remain one of the most dangerous teams in the country. They square off against the Utes, who finished the season as hot as anyone, obliterating Oregon twice in three weeks (something Ohio State could not do even once). This one should have a lot of scoring despite featuring a pair of top-20 defenses.
Pick: OHIO STATE -6.5