Projecting the Big Ten bowls

November, 17, 2008
11/17/08
2:34
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Much like the conference championship, the Big Ten bowl picture remains a bit blurry heading into the final week of the regular season. Here's what we know, what we don't know and what we might know at this point. 

Bowl eligible (7): Penn State (10-1, 6-1 Big Ten), Ohio State (9-2, 6-1), Michigan State (9-2, 6-1), Northwestern (8-3, 4-3), Iowa (7-4, 4-3), Minnesota (7-4, 3-4), Wisconsin (6-5, 3-5)

Still alive (1): Illinois (5-6, 3-4)

Staying home (3): Michigan (3-8, 2-5), Purdue (3-8, 1-6), Indiana (3-8, 1-6)

Big Ten bowl tie-ins (in order): Rose/BCS, Capital One, Outback, Alamo, Champs Sports, Insight, Motor City

Big Ten bowl selection procedures: The Capital One, Outback, Alamo and Champs Sports can select any eligible team except a team that has two fewer wins or two more losses than another eligible team. The Insight and Motor City Bowls have no restrictions, so they can take whatever teams are remaining. However, no 7-5 or better Big Ten team can get pushed out of the Big Ten's bowl lineup by a 6-6 team.

The big question: Can the Big Ten can get two teams into BCS bowls for the fourth straight season? Much depends on whether Oregon State wins its final two games and heads to the Rose Bowl. If the Beavers win out, USC likely would get the final BCS at-large spot. If the Beavers stumble and USC heads to Pasadena, the final at-large spot likely would come down to a Big Ten team (most likely Michigan State or Ohio State) and a non-BCS team. It'd be hard to see the bowls not going with the Big Ten squad in this case. 

Here's the team-by-team rundown of possibilities. 

Penn State
The Nittany Lions will head to the Rose Bowl with a win Saturday against Michigan State (ABC, 3:30 p.m.). A loss likely puts Penn State out of the BCS mix and into one of the Florida bowls on New Year's Day. 

Possibilities: Rose, BCS at-large (Fiesta, Sugar, Orange), Capital One, Outback

Prediction: Rose

Ohio State
If the Buckeyes beat Michigan and Penn State falls to Michigan State, Ohio State heads to Pasadena. Otherwise, Ohio State's BCS fate depends largely on what Oregon State and USC do the rest of the way. 

Possibilities: Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, Orange, Capital One, Outback

Prediction: Fiesta

Michigan State
The Spartans will go to the Rose Bowl with a win at Penn State and an Ohio State loss to Michigan (ABC, noon ET). A win in Happy Valley gives Michigan State a shot at a BCS berth either way. Otherwise, it's a New Year's Day trip to Florida.

Possibilities: Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, Orange, Capital One, Outback

Prediction: Capital One

Northwestern
A solid record and road wins against competitors Iowa and Minnesota help, but Northwestern's small alumni base has caused bowls to pass on the Wildcats before. The Wildcats could end up anywhere from Outback to Insight, depending on what happens Saturday against Illinois.

Possibilities: Outback, Alamo, Champs Sports, Insight

Prediction: Alamo

Iowa
The Hawkeyes have come alive in the second half, and their sizable fan base makes them an attractive team to bowl representatives. A lot depends on Saturday's game at Minnesota, but things look good for Shonn Greene and co. 

Possibilities: Outback, Alamo, Champs Sports

Prediction: Outback 

Minnesota
After a sparkling 7-1 start, the Gophers are in danger of dropping their final four games, which can't be good for their bowl prospects. Head coach Tim Brewster thinks Minnesota will end up in the Motor City, Insight or Alamo bowls. I'll throw in Champs Sports for good measure. 

Possibilities: Alamo, Champs Sports, Insight, Motor City

Prediction: Insight

Wisconsin
It has been a disappointing year in Madison, but a strong finish puts Bret Bielema's team in good shape for a bowl game. Wisconsin boasts a sizable fan base that travels extremely well, so the Badgers could jump ahead of a team or two. 

Possibilities: Alamo, Champs Sports, Insight, Motor City

Prediction: Champs Sports

Illinois
The Illini need a win Saturday at Northwestern to become bowl eligible. Nothing is guaranteed after that, though Illinois might sneak into the Insight or Motor City bowls. 

Possibilities: Insight, Motor City

Prediction: No bowl 

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