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College football: The 3 bowl games Wisconsin football is most likely to play in

Despite beating Iowa this season, the Badgers (8-4, 6-3) finished a game behind the Hawkeyes (10-2, 7-2) in the Big Ten West Division standings, putting Iowa in Indianapolis for the league championship game.

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Wisconsin Badgers running back Brady Schipper (29) picks up a first down against the Minnesota Golden Gophers Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, during the second quarter at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Minnesota won 23-13. Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK
USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten championship game between Iowa and Michigan may not have much of an impact on where and when the University of Wisconsin football team plays its bowl game this season.

Despite beating Iowa this season, the Badgers (8-4, 6-3) finished a game behind the Hawkeyes (10-2, 7-2) in the Big Ten West Division standings, putting Iowa in Indianapolis for the league championship game. Iowa can make the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2015 with a win over Michigan (11-1, 8-1), which beat UW in early October.

Michigan will play in the College Football Playoff for the first time if it defeats the Hawkeyes at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Here's how either outcome could affect the Badgers.

If Michigan wins

The Outback Bowl, a Jan. 1 matchup with an SEC team at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, is still in play for UW, but not exceedingly likely.

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No. 2 Michigan would be in the CFP with a win, and No. 7 Ohio State would play in the Rose Bowl as the highest-rated Big Ten non-playoff team. Michigan State could be in line for a New Year's Six bowl, but there's two idle teams ranked ahead of the Spartans (Mississippi and Notre Dame) that will make it difficult for them.

The Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl could have a spot for the Spartans, who are ranked No. 11 in the CFP, and the CFP chooses New Year's Six Bowl participants. The Sugar Bowl may not depending on how things shake out in the SEC and Big 12. If the Spartans are passed over for the New Year's Six bowls, it could take the Citrus Bowl slot and Iowa would bump into the Outback Bowl.

UW hasn't played in the Outback Bowl since 2015, when running back Melvin Gordon led an overtime win over Auburn. Barry Alvarez filled in as UW's coach that day, replacing Gary Andersen, who had left for the Oregon State job.

Should Iowa and Michigan State take the Big Ten positions in the Citrus and Outback bowls, UW likely will play in either the Music City or Las Vegas bowls.

The Music City Bowl is held in Nashville at 2 p.m. Dec. 30 and would pit UW against an SEC team, while the Las Vegas Bowl would be against a Pac-12 program at 9:30 p.m. Dec. 30.

If Iowa wins

The Hawkeyes would represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl against the Pac-12 champion (Oregon or Utah), Michigan likely would be the Big Ten's first team off the board for another New Year's Six Bowl and the Buckeyes also would be a likely pick for another New Year's Six berth.

This scenario would send Michigan State to the Citrus Bowl, leaving the Outback Bowl for UW or Minnesota. Minnesota just played in the Outback Bowl in 2019, defeating Auburn. UW having the head-to-head win against a Big Ten-champion Iowa may help boost its bowl resume, but the Music City and Las Vegas bowls again would be options for the Badgers.

© 2021 The Wisconsin State Journal

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