Ohio State and Michigan yesterday accepted invitations to play in the same bowl games they played in last season.
The Buckeyes will play in Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla. Last year, Ohio State lost to South Carolina 24-7.
Michigan will play the same day in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla. - for the third time in four years. The Wolverines beat Auburn 31-28 last year and Arkansas 45-31 in 1999.
Ohio State and Michigan both will play Southeastern Conference teams to be determined.
“We like to play on New Year's Day,” Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger said. “We're delighted.”
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr has mixed emotions. He doesn't dislike the Citrus Bowl, but his team's 26-20 loss to Ohio State on Saturday cost the Wolverines a trip to a Bowl Championship Series game.
Illinois, whose only conference loss was 45-20 at Michigan, is the Big Ten's champion and will represent the conference in a BCS game (Fiesta, Sugar or Orange).
“I hope I'm never anything but deeply disappointed when we don't win the Big Ten championship,” Carr said yesterday.
Michigan (8-3, 6-2 Big Ten) dropped from 11th to 17th in this week's Top 25 poll. The Wolverines started the season ranked 12th, fell as low as 20th after losing at Washington, and rose as high as No.6 before losing at Michigan State.
Citrus Bowl president Bill Dymond said the Citrus Bowl considered taking No.23 Ohio State over Michigan but chose to stick with the Wolverines because they were ranked higher.
Dymond said the Wolverines could face one of several teams: No. 15 South Carolina, No. 16 Georgia, No. 22 LSU, No. 25 Auburn - or even No.2 Florida or No.5 Tennessee if one of those teams surprisingly falls out of the BCS.
The SEC has a full schedule Saturday. After that, the SEC title game will be played and opponents for Ohio State and Michigan probably won't be determined until then.
South Carolina is coached by former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz; LSU's coach is former Toledo and Michigan State coach Nick Saban.
The Wolverines are making their 27th consecutive bowl appearance - second only to the 28th straight bowl Nebraska will play in this season - and 32nd overall.
Ohio State will be making its 33rd bowl appearance and 12th since 1989. The Buckeyes are 14-18 in bowl games.
Several Buckeye players said yesterday that they looked forward to redeeming themselves after their poor performance in the Outback Bowl last year.
The day after the game, former coach John Cooper was fired, and in the weeks leading up to the game, teammates criticized each other, the team MVP showed up late and missed the team's first practice in Tampa and one offensive lineman sued another.
“It was embarrassing,” defensive tackle Mike Collins said of the game. “We kind of want to redeem ourselves.”
GATOR BOWL: Virginia Tech agreed yesterday to play Florida State in the Gator Bowl on New Year's Day.
Miami and Florida moved closer to playing the biggest game yet in their long, often bitter rivalry.
The Hurricanes and Gators settled into first and second place, respectively, in the Bowl Championship Series standings released yesterday.
And all indications are that if both win the rest of their games, it's on to the national championship game in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 3.
Miami plays at Virginia Tech (8-2) on Saturday, while Florida plays host to Tennessee and, with a win, moves to the SEC title game Dec. 8 against the winner of Saturday's Auburn-LSU game.
Miami (10-0) and Florida (9-1) have met 50 times since 1938 - the series is tied 25-25 - but never with the national title on the line for both teams. Last year, Miami beat Florida 37-20 in the Sugar Bowl.
With Nebraska and Oklahoma losing - the Huskers were first, the Sooners third last week - the latest BCS standings underwent major changes.
The final BCS standings will be released Dec. 9.
“Miami and Florida are in control, it's up to them,” said Jerry Palm, who operates a Web site that closely monitors the BCS standings. “If one falls, then Texas and Tennessee are in the best position, but it depends on who else falls and how hard.”