Sunday, November 6, 2011
Big Ten bowl projections: Week 11
By Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett
The Big Ten isn't the nation's best conference this year, but it doesn't lack for excitement.
Week 10 brought two more upsets -- Iowa over Michigan and Northwestern over Nebraska -- and shook up the Legends Division race. As a result, the bowl projections also shuffle a bit. Iowa became bowl eligible with its sixth victory, and Northwestern's bowl hopes received a huge boost after the win in Lincoln.
These projections remain largely a crap-shoot as the final three weeks of the regular season are sure to bring more surprises. But as always, we'll give it our best shot.
We're projecting Michigan State (Legends) and Penn State (Leaders) to reach the inaugural Big Ten championship game Dec. 3 in Indianapolis. Not sure if the Land Grant Trophy will make an appearance, but the Spartans and Nittany Lions certainly can get to Naptown. We're projecting Michigan State to win and earn the Big Ten's automatic BCS bowl berth, while Penn State, like many title game losers, won't get an at-large berth. We project Penn State to win its next two games but fall at Wisconsin, which will win out.
The Outback, Insight and Gator bowls will have some appealing choices as Michigan, Ohio State and Nebraska will be in the mix for the spots. Nebraska has arguably the toughest remaining schedule of the three. Iowa and Illinois trade places on this week's projections, and Northwestern re-enters the mix as it faces a favorable schedule down the stretch. Purdue's recent road struggles combined with wins by both Iowa and Northwestern leave the Boilers on the outside looking in.
OK, enough chatter. Here are the projections:
Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO: Michigan State vs. BCS team
Allstate Sugar Bowl: Wisconsin vs. BCS team
Capital One Bowl: Penn State vs. SEC team
Outback Bowl: Ohio State vs. SEC team
Insight Bowl: Michigan vs. Big 12 team
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl: Nebraska vs. SEC team
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas: Iowa vs. Big 12 team
TicketCity Bowl: Illinois vs. Big 12 team
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Northwestern vs. MAC team