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Sunday, October 27, 2013
Big Ten bowl projections: Week 9

By Brian Bennett and Adam Rittenberg

After the Week 9 results, our biggest tumblers in the Big Ten bowl projections are Nebraska and Northwestern.

The Cornhuskers' loss to Minnesota prompted us to move Big Red down two slots to the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl. Nebraska isn't really in danger of missing a bowl, and its large fan base will ensure a decent landing spot (in reality, probably one better than Jacksonville). But we weren't exactly encouraged for the Huskers' future while watching how easily they got pushed around by the Gophers.

The fall was even harder for Northwestern, whose fourth straight loss resulted in an absence from our bowl projections for the first time this season. We never really envisioned a scenario in which the Wildcats would miss a bowl this season. But they look lost and confused on offense and need to win two more games against a schedule that includes showdowns with Nebraska, Michigan and Michigan State just to get bowl eligible. Right now, we have no confidence they will get that done.

Our top two teams remain the same this week, and we've bumped up the 7-1 Michigan State Spartans a notch. The problem for Michigan State, of course, is that even if it wins the Legends Division, it could run into an Ohio State buzz saw in Indianapolis. And if the Spartans lose there, they could pay for it because bowls aren't usually high on teams coming off a loss. It's a Catch-22 of sorts.

As a reminder, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl picks ahead of the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl in this season's Big Ten lineup.

We also leave Indiana in for yet another week, but Saturday's home game against Minnesota might just be a must-win for the Hoosiers if they want to make the postseason.

The projections:

Rose Bowl Presented by VIZIO, Jan. 1: Ohio State
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: Michigan State
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 28: Michigan
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, Jan. 1: Nebraska
Texas Bowl, Dec. 27: Iowa
Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jan. 1: Minnesota
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Dec. 26: Indiana