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Big Ten bowl projections: Week 12

There were some tense moments for both Ohio State and Michigan State on Saturday, but the Big Ten's big three remained intact for another week.

I've been projecting Michigan State to lose to Penn State in the regular-season finale for several weeks. While I'm not 100 percent sure I'll stick with that prediction -- the Spartans' big scare might have come at home against Purdue -- it won't affect the order of my projections.

Unfortunately for the Spartans, whether they win or lose against Penn State, they're likely headed to the Capital One Bowl unless Wisconsin or Ohio State loses. And I can't fathom either the Badgers or Buckeyes stumbling at home this week.

Penn State could leapfrog Iowa for the Outback Bowl if the Nittany Lions upset the Spartans. Iowa is struggling down the stretch, while Penn State would win five of its final six games if it knocks off Michigan State.

Illinois is now bowl eligible, and the Illini might leapfrog Northwestern after an impressive win against the Wildcats on Saturday at Wrigley Field. If Illinois continues to put up big offensive numbers and beats Fresno State on Dec. 3, it will be more attractive than a Northwestern team that has lost star quarterback Dan Persa to an injury.

Here's how I see things shaking out:

Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. BCS team

Fiesta/Sugar/Orange Bowl: Ohio State vs. BCS team

Capital One Bowl: Michigan State vs. SEC team

Outback Bowl: Penn State vs. SEC team

Gator Bowl: Iowa vs. SEC team

Insight Bowl: Michigan vs. Big 12 team

Texas Bowl: Illinois vs. Big 12 team

TicketCity Bowl: Northwestern vs. Big 12 team

The Big Ten isn't projected to fill its slot in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Minnesota, Indiana and Purdue can't get bowl eligible.